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Turkey may have targeted US forces with artillery in Syria, coalition source claims

Turkey may have targeted US forces with artillery in Syria, coalition source claimsTurkey may have deliberately targeted US forces with artillery in northern Syria in order to push them out, coalition sources have told the Daily Telegraph. US officials confirmed an explosion occurred near where a small contingent of its special forces were based on a hill near the town of Kobane. They said the cause of the explosion had not been confirmed but local reports suggested it was either an artillery or air strike. No US personnel were injured. It was the first time a coalition base had come under fire since Turkey's offensive began. US warplanes flew over the base immediately after the incident. Turkey's defence ministry denied targeting the US position, saying its forces were responding to Kurdish fire that originated nearby. Civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border  Credit: AFP A spokesman said: "There was no firing on the US observation post. The firing was ceased as a result of the issue being relayed to us by the US." But a coalition source said there was nothing else around in the area that the Turks could have been targeting, apart form the US forces. "It's likely they are trying to push us out. Kobane is the heart and soul of the Kurds," a source said. "If Turkey can get us to leave it's all over." A US official in Washington said an explosion had occurrednear the US military outpost, but no personnel were hurt. The official said the source of the explosion was unclear, but it coincided with Turkey's offensive against the Kurds. US troops were in the outpost at the time of the explosion but there had been no further activity since. Before the explosion Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said Turkey had been informed of US positions in Syria. Speaking at the Pentagon he said: "The Turkish military is fully aware, down to explicit grid coordinate detail, of the locations of US forces. "Everyone is fully aware that we are the United States military. We retain the right of self-defence." A picture taken from Turkish territory shows smoke rising from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces at Ras al-Ayn town Credit: REX It came after the US defence secretary pleaded with Turkey to stop its offensive on Kurdish-held northern Syria before it was “irreparable”, as the civilian death toll rose and 100,000 were forced to flee their homes. In the strongest condemnation of the assault since Donald Trump gave Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan his blessing on Sunday, Mark Esper said Ankara faced “serious consequences” if it did not rein in its forces in Syria. "As part of the call, Secretary Esper strongly encouraged Turkey to discontinue actions in northeastern Syria in order to increase the possibility that the United States, Turkey and our partners could find a common way to de-escalate the situation before it becomes irreparable," read a statement released in his name. Mr Trump’s green light for so-called Operation Peace Spring has turned amber in the face of international pressure.  The president called the invasion a “bad idea” on Thursday and even offered to mediate between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces. "We have one of three choices,” he tweeted on Thursday night. “Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!"  “I hope we can mediate,” he told reporters later when asked about the options. Facing increasing pressure to stop Turkish and allied Syrian rebel forces going deeper in Syria, the US set out red lines for their offensive. “That would include ethnic cleansing. It would include in particular indiscriminate artillery, air and other fire directed at civilian population,” a senior US official said, spelling out what Turkish actions would trigger US sanctions. “That is what we’re looking at right now. We have not seen significant examples of that so far.” People run to take cover after mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey Credit: AP Mr Trump warned Turkey to act with moderation and safeguard civilians. But the barrages of the invasion so far showed little sign of holding back. Residents along the border fled with their belongings loaded into cars, pickup trucks and motorcycle rickshaws, while others escaped on foot.  The UN refugee agency said tens of thousands were on the move, and aid agencies warned that nearly a half-million people near the border were at risk. France, which has come out strongly against the assault, said the European Union would discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey at a summit on Monday. The Netherlands suspended arms exports to Turkey yesterday, following Norway and Finland and Sweden, which plans to push for an EU-wide suspension. US senators, meanwhile, have been drawing up plans for their own possible sanctions. Without elaborating, Mr Trump also said the US was "going to possibly do something very, very tough with respect to sanctions and other financial things" against Turkey.



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Cracks in Saudi-UAE coalition risk new war in Yemen

Cracks in Saudi-UAE coalition risk new war in YemenFighting between their allies in southern Yemen has opened a gaping wound in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ coalition against the country’s rebels. Last week saw a stunning escalation in the turmoil in the south, as Emirati warplanes blasted fighters loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi — the man the coalition is supposed to be trying to restore to power.



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Saudi-led coalition says infighting killed senior Houthi official

Saudi-led coalition says infighting killed senior Houthi officialA senior Houthi official in Yemen and brother of the movement’s leader was killed because of infighting, the Saudi-led coalition said on Sunday, appearing to give a different version of events than the Iran-allied group. The Houthis on Friday said Ibrahim Badreddin al-Houthi was assassinated in the capital Sanaa by “the treacherous hands affiliated with the U.S.-Israeli aggression and its tools”, without providing details. The main focus in Yemen in recent days has been in the south of the country where southern separatists effectively took over the port city of Aden, the seat of the interim government, fracturing the alliance that had been battling the Houthis.



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Mohammed bin Salman backs Yemeni government as Saudi-led coalition descends into infighting

Mohammed bin Salman backs Yemeni government as Saudi-led coalition descends into infightingMohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, has thrown his weight behind the Yemeni government as it battles against a separatist group backed by Saudi Arabia’s allies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The prince’s military coalition in Yemen fractured dramatically over the weekend as the Yemeni government and the southern separatists turned their guns on each other after years of fight side-by-side under Saudi leadership.    The intense fighting in the port city of Aden left 40 people dead as separatist forces, who seek an independent state in south Yemen, seized control of government buildings and fought against presidential guards.   Saudi jets carried out an airstrike in Aden in support of government troops and Prince Mohammed met with the Yemeni president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, on Sunday night in a show of support.  Mr Hadi’s office said the two men discussed the separatist “coup” against the government and “various other crimes against the sons of Aden”.  By Monday morning a tense calm appeared to have settled over Aden with no reports of fresh fighting between the two sides. Humanitarian groups warned that thousands of civilians were trapped in the firing line.  Mohammed bin Salman is supporting the Yemeni government. Credit: REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo But it was unclear how the standoff would be resolved and whether separatist forces, known as the Southern Transitional Council (STC), would withdraw from seized government buildings. Aidarus al-Zubaidi, the head of the STC, said he was committed to a ceasefire and was prepared to travel to Saudi Arabia to negotiate a long-term truce.  He said his forces had moved against the Yemeni government because he had intelligence that government troops were preparing to launch an attack of their own.  Even if the immediate crisis in Aden can be resolved, the violence highlights the deep fractures in Prince Mohammed’s coalition, which has been struggling for more than four years against Houthi rebels aligned with Iran.     Saudi Arabia led an Arab military coalition into an air campaign against Houthi forces in 2015 in an effort to restore Mr Hadi’s control over Yemen.  The fighting has plunged the country into famine and the UN now considers Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Thousands of civilians have been killed by the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes. The separatists are armed by the UAE Credit: REUTERS/Fawaz Salman The UAE, which has one of the region’s most effective militaries, played a major role in helping government forces push the Houthis back towards their stronghold in the country’s northwest.  It also provided weapons and support to the STC, arguing that the separatists were key partners in fighting both the Houthis and jihadists groups in Yemen.   However, the UAE withdrew most of its forces from Yemen in recent months, hampering the coalition’s ability to continue fighting the Houthis.   With their patrons withdrawing from Yemen, the STC decided to move against the Yemeni government.  In an statement over the weekend, the Yemeni embassy in Washington said it held “the United Arab Emirates fully responsible for the coup perpetrated against the state in Aden”.



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Saudi-led coalition launches strike after Aden 'coup'

Saudi-led coalition launches strike after Aden 'coup'A Saudi-led coalition launched Sunday a strike against Yemen’s southern separatists after clashes in the second city Aden left around 40 people dead, threatening to push the war-ravaged nation deeper into turmoil. The strike came a day after the separatists seized the presidential palace in Aden, a move decried by the Riyadh-backed Yemeni government as a UAE-supported coup. The deadly violence, which threatens to exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, reflects deep divisions between secessionists and loyalist forces, both of whom have fought Shiite Huthi rebels.



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U.S. service member killed in Iraq: coalition statement

U.S. service member killed in Iraq: coalition statementA United States service member advising Iraqi security forces on a mission was killed on Saturday in the northern Nineveh province, the U.S.-led international coalition fighting Islamic State said in a statement. “One U.S. service member died today during an Iraqi Security Force mission in Ninewah province, Iraq, while advising and accompanying the (Iraqi security forces) during a planned operation, the statement said. It added that the name of the service member would be withheld until next of kin have been notified.



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Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM Abe

Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM AbeJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he had not yet decided on how to respond to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to join a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. “We’ve started to hear the United States’ thinking on this and we want to keep listening carefully,” he said on national television as votes were being counted for the upper house election. “At the same time, Japan also has friendly ties with Iran,” Abe added.



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Indian warships to stay longer in Persian Gulf, but won't join U.S. coalition

Indian warships to stay longer in Persian Gulf, but won't join U.S. coalitionIndian warships escorting merchant vessels in the Persian Gulf will remain deployed for the longer term, officials with direct knowledge of the matter said, as tensions between Iran and Western powers rise. Since June following attacks on tankers that the United States blamed on Iran and Iran-aligned fighters, a charged Tehran denies, the Indian navy ships have been escorting Indian-flagged vessels in and out of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.



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Pompeo sets out to build global coalition against Iran

Pompeo sets out to build global coalition against IranSecretary of State Mike Pompeo said he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran. Pompeo spoke Sunday as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Sunni Arab allies that are alarmed by Shiite Iran’s increasing assertiveness and are working to limit its influence in the region. “We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.



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UPDATE 4-Yemen's Houthis hit Saudi airport, killing one, wounding 21 – Saudi-led coalition

UPDATE 4-Yemen's Houthis hit Saudi airport, killing one, wounding 21 - Saudi-led coalitionYemen’s Houthi movement launched an attack on Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Sunday that killed one person and wounded 21 others, the Saudi-led coalition battling the group in Yemen said. Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV earlier said that the Iran-aligned movement had targeted Abha and Jizan airports in the south of the kingdom with drones attacks. “A terrorist attack by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeted Abha airport, killing a Syrian resident and wounding 21 civilians,” the coalition said in a statement carried on Saudi state television.



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