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Islamic State Rears Its Head, Adding to Chaos as Turkey Battles Kurds

Islamic State Rears Its Head, Adding to Chaos as Turkey Battles KurdsCEYLANPINAR, Turkey — The Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria raised new fears of a resurgence of the Islamic State on Friday, as five militants escaped from a Kurdish-run prison and the extremist group claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded in the regional capital.As Turkish troops launched a third night of airstrikes and ground incursions, Kurdish fighters said they had thwarted a second attempt to break out of a detention camp for families of Islamic State members.The moves compounded a mounting sense of turmoil in northeast Syria, where tens of thousands of residents were reported fleeing south. The Turkish government said its troops had advanced 5 miles inside part of the country. Several major roads had been blocked and a major hospital abandoned.Since Wednesday, Turkish forces have pummeled Kurdish-held territory with airstrikes and sent in ground troops, trying to seize land controlled by a Kurdish-led militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces. That militia fought alongside U.S. troops in the recent war against the Islamic State.The campaign began after President Donald Trump suddenly ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from the area, giving implicit approval to Turkey's long-anticipated attack on the Kurdish-led militia.Trump's decision was widely criticized, including by his Republican allies in the United States, who said it was a betrayal of an ally — the Kurds — that could cause a re-emergence of the Islamic State.The White House — concerned that Congress would pursue bipartisan sanctions legislation against Turkey — said Trump would sign an executive order giving the Treasury Department new powers to punish officials in Turkey if its military targeted ethnic and religious minorities."We hope we don't have to use them," said Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. "But we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to."Since pulling out, U.S. officials have expressed growing concern at the direction the Turkish incursion has taken, with officials warning Friday that the United States would respond forcefully if Islamic State fighters were allowed to escape from prisons in the area.On Friday afternoon, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey vowed to continue the campaign."The West and the U.S., together they say, 'You are killing the Kurds'," said Erdogan in a speech. "Kurds are our brothers. This struggle of ours is not against Kurds. It is against terror groups.''The Turkish government has framed the campaign as a counterterrorist operation because the Kurdish-led militia has close ties with a banned Turkey-based guerrilla movement that has waged a decadeslong struggle against the Turkish state.Erdogan has promised that the fight against the Islamic State will continue and that his forces and their allies will continue to guard any captured militants in Kurdish-held prisons.But the operation has already proved highly disruptive to efforts to keep the Islamic State at bay. Although U.S. and Kurdish forces have defeated Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria, the group has sleeper cells in the region that could use the turmoil to retake the land they controlled in the early years of the Syrian civil war.And the Kurdish militia has diverted soldiers to fight the invasion and abandoned joint operations with U.S. troops as it prioritizes the defense of its land.On Friday, a car bomb exploded on a residential street in Qamishli, the de facto capital of the Kurdish-held region — a rare act of Islamic State terrorism in a city that was relatively free of trouble before the Turkish assault began.The Turkish bombardment has also endangered the security of several Kurdish-run prisons for Islamic State militants, with at least three in the vicinity of continuing Turkish airstrikes. It is widely feared that in the chaos, Islamic State fighters will escape captivity, as the five did Friday.Kurdish authorities said shells had reached two Kurdish-controlled displacement camps, prompting officials to move some of their 20,000 inhabitants farther south.One of the camps, in Ain Issa, has hundreds of relatives of Islamic State fighters, heightening fears over the effect that the Turkish invasion will have on the fight against the militant group.Kurdish forces also released video of a third camp, which they said showed an effort to escape by members of Islamic State families.A second video, seen by The New York Times, appeared to show prisoners trying to escape a Kurdish-controlled jail after it was hit by an airstrike.While the Turkish airstrikes have hit targets along most of the 300-mile-long Kurdish-held territory, the ground battle has focused on two small but strategically located Syrian border towns, Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain.Turkish troops and their Syrian Arab allies have captured a cluster of villages around the two towns, which lie in the center of the Kurdish region. The troops have in one place established a front line 5 miles from the Turkish border, the Turkish vice president, Fuat Oktay, said Friday evening, according to Turkish media.Their presence has prompted 100,000 residents to flee south, according to U.N. estimates, and forced the evacuation of a major hospital in Tel Abyad that was run by Doctors Without Borders, an international medical charity.A second hospital, in Ras al-Ain, was also evacuated, according to a separate report by the Rojava Information Center, an information service run by activists in the region.Turkish mortar shells also landed close to U.S. troops near the city of Kobani on Friday, prompting a complaint from the U.S. military, the Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed. No one was killed. Turkish officials said the Americans had not been targeted, though the Pentagon said Turkey had known that U.S. forces were in the area.At least 54 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Wednesday, along with 42 from the Turkish-backed force, according to tolls compiled by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor based in Britain.Turkish towns north of the border have also been affected, as Kurdish fighters have returned fire.Since fighting began Wednesday, at least 17 civilians, including four children, have been killed in Turkish border towns. At least four Turkish soldiers have died in the fighting, according to Turkish officials.An entire Turkish border town — Ceylanpinar — was evacuated, after two girls were killed in a rocket strike Thursday and two people were seriously wounded Friday.Ceylanpinar was largely deserted Friday afternoon, with shops shuttered and only stray dogs and a few men slipping out to chat or buy cigarettes."Our city is a ghost town," complained Musa Sahman, 70, who sells a local raw meat delicacy but had no customers. "Our government is fighting for Syria, but we don't have any business."But the damage has been far worse on the Kurdish side, where 60 civilians have died since Wednesday, according to the Kurdish Red Crescent.The U.S. decision to ally with Kurdish militias set the stage for Turkey's invasion this week.By capturing land previously held by the Islamic State, Kurdish fighters were then able to create an autonomous statelet that spans roughly a quarter of all Syrian territory and is effectively independent of the central Syrian government in Damascus.But this dynamic has been chastening for Syria's northern neighbor, Turkey, which views the central figures in the autonomous Kurdish region as hostile actors with strong connections to a violent Kurdish nationalist group inside Turkey itself.Turkey's military campaign has come hand in hand with a crackdown on criticism inside Turkey.The state-run media authority warned that it would "silence" any outlet deemed to have published material damaging to the offensive. Two editors at separate independent news websites were briefly detained, their outlets reported."We will never tolerate broadcasts that will negatively affect our beloved nation and glorious soldiers' morale and motivation, that serves the aim of terror, and might mislead our citizens with faulty, wrong and biased information," the media authority said in a statement.The Turkish incursion has prompted a mixed reaction from the 3.6 million Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkey.Some fear they will end up being deported to the areas recaptured by Turkish forces in northern Syria, despite having no ancestral links there. Others from the areas of northern Syria currently under attack said they welcomed the campaign.In Turkey, on a hilltop overlooking the Syrian border and the town of Tel Abyad, a lone Syrian man, Mehmet Huseyn, 45, crouched in the shade of a rusting water tank, scanning the horizon for signs of movement.His brother and family were in his home village, 6 miles beyond the ridgeline, while he had been working as a farm laborer in Turkey for four years to support his family of seven, he said."Our village is there," he said. "I am looking in case they leave and we can return home."But it pained him to see more war visited on his home. "Our insides are burning," he said. "We love our land and we love our country."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company



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89-year-old Florida woman battles and kills 6-foot snake after it eats visiting birds

89-year-old Florida woman battles and kills 6-foot snake after it eats visiting birdsAn 89-year old Tallahassee woman killed a six-foot snake in her backyard yard after it ate most of her birds in three weeks.



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Fox Business Host Calls on Trump to Ban Assault Weapons, Battles Ex-NRA Spokeswoman

Fox Business Host Calls on Trump to Ban Assault Weapons, Battles Ex-NRA SpokeswomanD DipasupilIn a somewhat surprising move, Fox Business Network host Trish Regan—a vocal and loyal booster of President Donald Trump—on Wednesday called for stricter gun laws and the ban of assault weapons. Her comments drew the ire of one-time NRA spokesperson and frequent Fox News guest Dana Loesch.With renewed calls for action on gun control and universal background checks following this past weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the conservative Fox personality took to Twitter to call on the president to act.“.@realDonaldTrump has a major opportunity: he can BAN assault weapons and envoke strict gun laws and backgrnd (sic) checks in one executive order,” Regan wrote Wednesday morning. “To heck w/ lobbyists at NRA – the majority of Americans and common sense supports this! It’s time to do what is right for our country.”Regan’s message to Trump prompted Loesch to fire back, telling the Fox Business host that she disagreed with Regan and wasn’t sure where Regan was getting her data to support stricter gun laws.“She has to disagree bc she’s paid to disagree,” Regan replied, referencing Loesch’s former position at the gun lobby. “I don’t envy her position.”The primetime FBN host continued: “Nonetheless – majority of Americans believe we need better background checks for prospective gun owners. No one w/common sense believes we should hand an assault rifle to a mentally ill person.”Regan went on to write in another tweet that recent polls reveal the vast majority of voters favoring background checks on all potential gun buyers and purchases.Loesch, meanwhile, said Regan’s “ergo decedo response is unnecessary” since she’s been a strong Second Amendment defender for more a decade and that, seeing as she’s no longer employed by the NRA, she’s not currently paid to disagree with anyone. As for the poll numbers Regan shared, Loesch brushed them off, adding that she was “disappointed” to see such a response from the Fox host and “was hoping for good faith discussion on this issue.” She further asked for “cross tabs” of the polls, which showed 92 percent and 86 percent in favor of universal background checks, respectively.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Syria force battles into last jihadist pocket

Syria force battles into last jihadist pocketKurdish-led forces battled jihadists defending their last village on Saturday as operations were relaunched to flush out the Islamic State group from eastern Syria after several days of humanitarian evacuations. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces pushed into Baghouz, a tiny hamlet near the Iraqi border where IS fighters have been making a desperate last stand. An official for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms the backbone of the SDF, on Saturday said they had breached the jihadists’ perimeter.



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Manafort’s Mystery Lender Battles Mueller to Remain Shrouded

Manafort’s Mystery Lender Battles Mueller to Remain ShroudedIn what has become a curious sideshow to Manafort’s sprawling legal battles, an obscure Nevada lender says it has a right to be paid back without Mueller asking too many questions. The lender offered to identify the money’s source to Mueller if he promised to keep it confidential, according to a court filing on Monday. Mueller refused.



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Fierce battles near final IS foothold in eastern Syria

Fierce battles near final IS foothold in eastern SyriaBEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State group militants cornered in their last foothold in eastern Syria fought back with suicide car bombs, snipers and booby traps Monday, slowing Kurdish fighters advancing under the cover of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish news agencies and a Syrian war monitor said.



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How long will the federal shutdown last? Here are lessons from previous budget battles.

How long will the federal shutdown last? Here are lessons from previous budget battles.The government shutdown, which is moving into its second week, is not the longest in history. Here's how some past budget fights have played out.



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Nation's first charter school strike ends, but could portend more battles on choice

Nation's first charter school strike ends, but could portend more battles on choiceThe strike affected only about 7,500 of Chicago's 371,000 public school students. But it was closely followed by labor leaders and charter advocates around the country.



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Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalition

Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalitionIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party denied Friday that he had decided to call a snap election, as he battled to keep the government afloat after his defence minister quit over a Gaza ceasefire. Netanyahu’s ruling coalition was left with a single seat majority in parliament after the walkout on Wednesday by Avigdor Lieberman and his hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party. Netanyahu held crunch talks on Friday with his other main right-wing rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose religious nationalist Jewish Home party has threatened also to quit unless he is given Lieberman’s job.



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8 combatants, 6 civilians die in Kashmir battles, clashes

8 combatants, 6 civilians die in Kashmir battles, clashesSRINAGAR, India (AP) — Three local rebels were killed in a gunbattle with Indian government forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday, and six civilians were killed in an explosion at the site after the fighting was over, officials and residents said.



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