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September 11, 2018

Russians protest against pension reform

Russians protest against pension reform

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Rally against raising the retirement age (2018-09-09; Saint Petersburg).
Image: VOA.

A member of the protest holds a sign saying “‍[This is] Pension default (not reform)! Impeachment to Putin! Fire Medvedev! Remove Gosduma!”.
Image: VOA.

On Sunday, reportedly over a thousand Russians were arrested for illegally protesting against government plans for pension age adjustment. The protest spanned several regions across the country. The plan would raise the retirement age an additional five years, with new age for men at 65, for women at 60.

According to monitoring data from media project OVD-Info, 1018 people were arrested, including 452 people in St Petersburg, 183 people in Yekaterinburg, 60 in Krasnodar, 43 each in Moscow and Omsk, 23 in Perm, 22 in Kazan, 20 in Tver, 17 in Ufa, 15 in Habarovsk, 13 each in Tomsk and Belgorod, 12 each in Chelyabinsk and Lipetsk, 10 in Novosibirsk, and some 80 in other cities.

Locations of the arrests.

In Moscow, the rally started at Pushkin Square at 2 p.m. local time and anti-riot police pushed people away. They marched toward the Kremlin. On their way, they again clashed with Police and did not complete the route.

The protests reportedly started in the Far East and Siberia first, followed by western regions of the country.

Regional elections were also on Sunday.

The pension adjustment plan has reportedly coincided with a significant drop in approval rating of Russian President Vladimir Putin.



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September 9, 2018

Three soldiers die in clashes in Plateau, Nigeria

Three soldiers die in clashes in Plateau, Nigeria

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

In the Barkin Ladi local government area of Plateau State, Nigeria, three military people died on Saturday. These people belonged to a military group from the government which had allegedly “locked down” the region as a response to a conflict between herders and farmers, who had been causing a number of violent attacks on civilians in this area previously.

The commander of the military group, Augustine Agundu, announced the deaths to journalists on Saturday at Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The locals possessed an excessively large number of arms, he remarked; “The worst of it is that the proliferation of arms in Plateau is out of magnitude. I have locked down Barkin-ladi, this act will never repeat itself. We have made efforts to reconcile the warring factions but they have remained adamant.”

The military burned 200 houses without permission, Nigerian newspaper Premium Times reported. They attributed this claim to local residents, and the state secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.

The Nigerian government called the military operation Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).

Last week on Tuesday and Thursday five miners and two people were killed at Gana-Ropp village and at Nding village, respectively, Plateau State police command said on Thursday. In late August following a religious peacemaking summit, locals burned a church in Barkin Ladi and its pastor and his family.

Other regions of Plateau State affected by the conflicts between farmers and herders included Ryiom and Bassa local government areas.



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September 2, 2018

Final service for US Senator and Vietnam War veteran John McCain as he is buried at the United States Naval Academy

Final service for US Senator and Vietnam War veteran John McCain as he is buried at the United States Naval Academy

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

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Senator John Sydney McCain III of Arizona

Sunday, the United States (US) Republican Senator from Arizona and Vietnam War veteran John Sydney McCain III, age 81, was buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. McCain died on the evening of August 25 at his Sedona, Arizona ranch from complications associated with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Ending a week of services, viewings, and speeches, McCain’s body was laid to rest next to his Naval Academy friend Admiral Charles Larson. The motorcade with police escort had streets lined with people saluting and waving American flags. An honor guard would remove the casket to be placed on a horse drawn carriage and offloaded at the burial site. A private service was held at 14:00 EST (1800 UTC) to 16:00 EST (2000 UTC) which concluded with a flyover in the missing man formation.

McCain is remembered by his service to the US during the Vietnam War where he was shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam being rescued by local fishermen. When offered repatriation due to his father becoming the commander of all US forces in Vietnam, he refused to leave the Hỏa Lò Prison, nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton,” suffering pervasive torture unless earlier prisoners of war were repatriated. In all, he was detained for 5 1/2 years. Stateside, he would enter the world of US politics as Congressmen from the Arizona 1st district. When the Republican Senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater vacated his seat in the US Senate, McCain was elected to his seat, which he filled for the next 3 decades, overseeing the military as a ranking member of the politically powerful Senate Armed Services Committee. With McCain’s extensive public service, his death garnered several services that were carried out over the last week.

Starting last Sunday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey lowered all flags at half-mast and announced McCain and would lie in state under the copper rotunda at the Arizona Capitol Building Wednesday in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Also Governor Ducey’s office confirmed through a senior adviser Daniel Ruiz, II, the Constitutional power for appointing McCain’s successor will take place after McCain’s funeral and this person will serve until the 2022 election cycle. The official statement produced by Ruiz reads, “Out of respect for the life and legacy of Senator John McCain and his family, Governor Ducey will not be making any announcements about an appointment until after the Senator is laid to rest … Now is a time for remembering and honoring a consequential life well lived.”

A small service was held around 10:00 a.m. MST (1600 UTC) Wednesday when McCain’s casket arrived at the Arizona Capitol Building. Opening the service was Arizona Governor Doug Ducey with a eulogy, with remarks from former Republican Senator from Arizona Jon Kyle, and the benediction from the Republican Senator from Arizona Jeff Flake. Following the service, the public was allowed into the rotunda with an estimated 12-15 thousand individuals by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

His last ceremony in Arizona took place Thursday at the North Phoenix Baptist Church which featured McCain’s former Chief of Staff John Woods, National Football League wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Leaving the church, a personal musical selection by McCain of Frank Sinatra song, “My Way” played. A police escort would take him and his family to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. Greeting him on the tarmac was the entire Arizona National Guard with Air Force Two, a smaller modified Boeing 757 then the Air Force One Boeing 747 used to fly the president. Air Force Two would land in Washington, DC at Joint Base Andrews with an honor guard ready to receive his casket.

Friday, McCain came to the US Capitol Building for the last time, honored by lying in state under the rotunda on the catafalque originally built for assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. This honor has only been extended to 31 individuals over the past 166 years. As the honor guard removed the casket from the hearse and began climbing the stairs it began to rain. After the ceremony for Congress, the public was allowed to view his casket for the remainder of the day.

Saturday, a service was held at that National Cathedral also in Washington, DC. where former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were personally asked by McCain to give eulogies when they visited him as he recovered from chemotherapy and radiation treatments at his ranch. Absent from the National Cathedral was the current President Donald Trump after tensions with McCain and the McCain family resulted in Trump not being invited. Instead, invitations were extended to Vice President Mike Pence other administration officials including Chief of Staff and retired General John Kelly.

Throughout the week, no speech referenced Trump by name. However Meghan McCain‘s eulogy at the National Cathedral stated, “We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” subtly comparing McCain’s war record to Trump’s multiple medical deferments.

Trump would spend the time when the service was taking place at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. During his public appearances this week, he remained silent on McCain’s death with only a single Twitter post directly following McCain’s death, “Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family. Thank you Senator McCain for your service to the nation.” First Lady Melania Trump also reached out through Twitter with, “Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family. Thank you Senator McCain for your service to the nation.” Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner attended the National Cathedral service as an invitation extended by Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham.

Trump ordered the flags at half-mast, a showing of national mourning, the Saturday evening when McCain died, with the flag being placed back at full-mast two days later. Trump defended his actions with, “I’ve done everything that they requested and no, I don’t think I have at all.” After quick bipartisan criticism the flag was returned to half-mast until Sunday’s final burial.

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56)
Image: Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Todd Frantom.

A number of honorary measures have been purposed and adopted throughout the federal, state, and city levels. Navy officials, prior to his death, added his name to the Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer USS John McCain originally named for his grandfather and father, both Navy Admirals. Congressional colleagues also entitled the 2019 fiscal year military sending bill, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. Legislation was also submitted by the Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer to renaming the Russell Senate Office Building dedicated to the late Democratic Senator from Georgia Richard Russell, Jr. Russell was a segregationist and civil rights opponent, but some in Congress have reservations on the renaming like the Republican Senator from Georgia David Perdue stating, “He did so many other things. He was a big supporter of the Great Society, the War on Poverty. Now, we all know those things failed, but he was a big champion of them.” The legislation will be taken up when Congress reopens after Labor Day.



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August 31, 2018

US Senator John McCain lies in state at Arizona Capitol

US Senator John McCain lies in state at Arizona Capitol

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Friday, August 31, 2018

On Wednesday, deceased Vietnam War veteran and Republican United States Senator from Arizona John Sidney McCain III arrived at the Arizona State Capitol, transported via police-escorted hearse, where his remains lay in state. The senator’s remains were later transported to Washington, D.C., ahead of further services planned there for today.

McCain died Saturday evening from complications associated with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, diagnosed 13 months ago after a biopsy on a blood clot which formed above his left eye.

Before the public viewing, a small service was held under the Arizona State Capitol’s copper rotunda with the McCain family, former and present governors of Arizona, Arizona state legislators, and past and current Arizona Congressional delegation. Beginning at approximately 10:00 local time, current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey gave the eulogy, with remarks from former Republican Senator from Arizona Jon Kyle. Republican Senator from Arizona Jeff Flake delivered the benediction. Other public figures included his daughter Meghan McCain, former Vice President Joe Biden and Arizona Cardinals football receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.

The Arizona State Capitol started allowing the public view around 14:00 local time, with the Arizona Department of Public Safety reporting 7,500 people standing for hours in 104°F.



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July 26, 2018

Palestine elected as G-77’s presiding country, ambassador Riyad Mansour confirms

Palestine elected as G-77’s presiding country, ambassador Riyad Mansour confirms

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

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On Tuesday, Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations, confirmed Palestine would preside next year over the UN’s G-77 bloc of developing countries.

While speaking to The New York Times, Mansour said, “We will be negotiating on behalf of 135 countries”. Formed in 1964, Group of 77 now represents about 80% of the world population. Palestine is expected to take over presiding for 2019 in January. Currently, the presiding nation is Egypt.

Palestine is an observer non-member state of the UN. In 2012, Israel and its ally the United States opposed promoting Palestine to “observer” status, and in 2015 both countries also opposed allowing Palestine to fly their flag at the UN.

Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon criticised Palestine’s presiding, saying, “The goal of the Group of 77 originally was to facilitate the economic advancement of underdeveloped nations […] It is unfortunate that it will now become a platform for spreading lies and incitement. This will not promote the G-77’s goals, and encourages the Palestinians to not engage in negotiations for peace.”



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July 25, 2018

German footballer Mesut Özil announces retirement from international football

German footballer Mesut Özil announces retirement from international football

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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On Sunday, German footballer Mesut Özil announced retiring from international football via his official Twitter handle. The 29-year-old gave racism as the reason for his retirement.

Özil and his international teammate İlkay Gündoğan, who are of Turkish origin, met the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in London in May. The two players took a photo with Erdoğan, after which, many Germans reportedly booed the players prior to this year’s FIFA Football World Cup in Russia. Özil said that he received hate mail and threats after meeting the Turkish president.

In his tweets, Özil said, “It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”

Speaking about his meeting with the Turkish president, Özil said, “Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey […] For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country”. Referring to the German football association’s president, Reinhard Grindel, Özil said, “In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

Özil made his international debut on August 12, 2009, playing against Azerbaijan. Since then, he has featured in 92 matches for Germany, scoring 23 goals. Özil was part of 2014’s World Cup winning squad.

“He [Mesut Özil] played a key role in Germany lifting the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and so the DFB is and always will be incredibly grateful for his outstanding performances in Germany colours” ((de))German language: ‍Er hatte entscheidenden Anteil daran, dass Deutschland 2014 in Brasilien Weltmeister geworden ist. Deshalb ist und bleibt der DFB Mesut Özil für seine herausragenden Leistungen im Trikot der deutschen Nationalmannschaften sehr dankbar., the German football association Deutscher Fußball-Bund said in a statement. It also said, “The DFB regrets Mesut Özil’s decision to step down from the national team.” ((de))German language: ‍Der DFB bedauert den Abschied von Mesut Özil aus der Nationalmannschaft.

Özil’s last match for Germany was against South Korea in this year’s FIFA World Cup, which ended in a 2–0 defeat for Germany, as the 2014 winners failed to qualify for the knockout phase.



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German footballer Mesut Özil announces retirement from international football over ‘racism’

German footballer Mesut Özil announces retirement from international football over ‘racism’

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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On Sunday, German footballer Mesut Özil announced retiring from international football via his official Twitter handle. The 29-year-old gave racism as the reason for his retirement.

File photo of Özil, 2011.
Image: Steindy. (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Özil and his international teammate İlkay Gündoğan, who are of Turkish origin, met the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in London in May. The two players took a photo with Erdoğan, after which, many Germans reportedly booed the players prior to this year’s FIFA Football World Cup in Russia. Özil said that he received hate mail and threats after meeting the Turkish president.

In his tweets, Özil said, “It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”

Speaking about his meeting with the Turkish president, Özil said, “Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey […] For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country”. Referring to the German football association’s president, Reinhard Grindel, Özil said, “In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

Özil made his international debut on August 12, 2009, playing against Azerbaijan. Since then, he has featured in 92 matches for Germany, scoring 23 goals. Özil was part of 2014’s World Cup winning squad.

“He [Mesut Özil] played a key role in Germany lifting the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and so the DFB is and always will be incredibly grateful for his outstanding performances in Germany colours” ((de))German language: ‍Er hatte entscheidenden Anteil daran, dass Deutschland 2014 in Brasilien Weltmeister geworden ist. Deshalb ist und bleibt der DFB Mesut Özil für seine herausragenden Leistungen im Trikot der deutschen Nationalmannschaften sehr dankbar., the German football association Deutscher Fußball-Bund said in a statement. It also said, “The DFB regrets Mesut Özil’s decision to step down from the national team.” ((de))German language: ‍Der DFB bedauert den Abschied von Mesut Özil aus der Nationalmannschaft.

Özil’s last match for Germany was against South Korea in this year’s FIFA World Cup, which ended in a 2–0 defeat for Germany, as the 2014 winners failed to qualify for the knockout phase.



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  • “FIFA World Cup 2018 day 12, 13, 14, 15: Iran, Nigeria, Germany, Senegal out of the tournament” — Wikinews, July 1, 2018

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July 22, 2018

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

Israeli Knesset passes ‘Jewish nation-state’ bill

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Crime and law
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On Thursday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the “Jewish nation-state” bill granting Israel the status of “national home of the Jewish people”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel”.

The bill was passed at 3 AM with 62–55 majority. Two lawmakers abstained. The bill declared Hebrew as the only official language and demoted Arabic from national language to a “special status” language. Netanyahu said, “An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish characters for generations to come.” Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein said this bill, which received just 51.66% votes in favour out of the full Knesset of 120, was “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset”.

The Knesset began the voting on Wednesday. Previously, the bill had clauses declaring the state as a Jewish-only community as well as direction for judiciary courts to consider Jewish values over democratic values. Both of the clauses were challenged by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the Attorney General. The latter clause about Jewish values for courts was dropped in May; the other clause was eventually dropped, and the final draft of the bill was approved on Monday. The bill was first introduced in 2011 by the right-wing Likud party.

The latest draft of the bill said the Hebrew calendar is to be the official calendar of the state. It also read, “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established” and “the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” Israel is home to about 1.8 million Palestinians, who account for roughly 20% of the national population. The bill also declared Jerusalem, in its entirety, as the capital of Israel.

The bill received negative reception from a number of people. The Arab Joint List multi-party alliance called it “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist, and with clear characteristics of apartheid.” Calling it a “shameful night”, Meretz Party’s Tamar Zandberg said it was a “debased and tainted law”. The Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi questioned, “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?”.

Last week, Netanyahu said, “We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy but the majority also has the rights and the majority decides”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a US-based Jewish Organisation, said the bill “was born in sin, its only purpose is to send a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens. Two months ago we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, where it was written that the State of Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender.’ Today Netanyahu’s government is trying to ignore those words and the values that they represent.”



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July 19, 2018

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

After signing peace declarations, Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Politics and conflicts
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On Monday, Eritrea reopened their embassy in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa just a week after both the countries signed a declaration of the end of the two-decade-long conflict between the countries.

71-year-old Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki raised the Eritrean flag in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed handed Afwerki the keys for the embassy. Abiy said, “Both nations have chosen peace as opposed to war […] We won’t allow anyone to stop this from happening.”

A former province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted in favour of a sovereign state and declared independence in 1993. The Eritrean embassy in Ethiopia was shut down in 1998 and, per reports, about 80 thousand were killed in the border conflict between the two nations from 1998 to 2000.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister visited Eritrea earlier this month and on July 9, leaders of both countries signed a declaration of the end of the conflict in Eritrean capital Asmara. After announcing the end of the conflict, telephone lines were set up between the two countries and on Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines flew the first direct plane between Ethiopia and Eritrea in twenty years. Chief Executive of the airlines Tewolde GebreMariam said, “This day marks a unique event in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea”.



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August 30, 2016

Turkey invades Jarabulus, Syria under operation \’Euphrates Shield\’

Turkey invades Jarabulus, Syria under operation ‘Euphrates Shield’

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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On Monday, special presidential envoy for the coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Brett McGurk, urged for the “unacceptable” clashes between the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Turkish troops, who are allied with theFree Syrian Army (FSA) to end.

Over the weekend Turkey targeted the PYD in Jeb el-Kussaa, near the border of Turkey in Northern Syria. Reports state at least 20 civilians died, and 50 were wounded due to Turkish air-strikes and artillery fire. On Sunday, another 15 civilians died, many of which are reported to be Kurdish civilians. So far, 35 civilians have died due to the operation, however on Monday, Turkey refuted this and claims only 25 Kurdish militants died in the strikes.

Turkish forces in allegiance with the (FSA) and backed by the U.S, launched operation “Euphrates Shield” on August 24, and quickly captured the ISIL held city of Jarabulus, where ISIL fighters seem to have fled without a fight. Approximately 40 Turkish tanks and 2,000 FSA troops entered Jarabulus via the Turkish border that day. In support of the operation, U.S. A-10 and F-16 warplanes also hit targets within Syria.

Turkish President, Recap Tayyip Erdogan said operation “Euphrates Shield” targets “terrorist groups” such as ISIL and the PYD, who Erdogan claims have been threatening and attacking Turkey from Syria. However analysts have said the operation is really to prevent the PYD, who had been marching towards Jarabulus, from gaining territory in Northern Syria and creating an independent state.

Ankara considers the PYD and its military wing (YPG) to be a faction of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who are regarded as enemies of the Turkish government for starting an insurgency within Turkey. Earlier this month, the YPG helped regain control of the formerly ISIL held city of Manjib, and have been deemed as one of the strongest U.S. backed forces in Syria.

On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. sided with Turkey’s demands and asked the Kurdish troops to withdraw over the Euphrates River or risk losing U.S. support. Later that day, US State Secretary John Kerry said the Syrian Kurdistan forces had retreated east from Euphrates.

The Syrian regime condemned Turkey’s actions claiming their invasion violates Syria’s sovereignty and added that Turkey was merely “replacing one terrorist group with another.” Following a complaint from Syria to the United Nations (UN), a spokesman from Secretary General Stephane Dujarric de la Rivière, confirmed Turkey’s actions were considered an invasion.


Sources[]

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