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US troops leave northern Syria for Iraq despite Trump's claims they are returning 'home'

US troops leave northern Syria for Iraq despite Trump's claims they are returning 'home'US forces began withdrawing from their largest base in northern Syria on Sunday after the Pentagon chief confirmed that nearly 1,000 troops would be relocated to “help defend Iraq” against Isil’s re-emergence. As President Donald Trump claimed that he was "bringing soldiers home", he was contradicted by his defence secretary, Mark Esper, who said the troops were instead headed for Syria's neighbour to join an existing US force of 5,000.  “The current game plan is for those forces to re-position into western Iraq,” Mr Esper said late on Saturday, not ruling out that they would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. The timeframe for the transfer to be completed was "weeks, not days,” he added.  By Sunday afternoon, the relocation had begun, with a first convoy of more than 70 US armoured vehicles escorted by helicopters rumbling out of the Sarrin base in northern Syria and past the town of Tal Tamr. The withdrawal brings to a close America’s military presence in northern Syria and effectively abandons its ally, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, to Turkish firepower. Ankara began its cross-border attack on October 9 with the goal of pushing back Kurdish YPG fighters from its border and establishing a Turkish-controlled zone to which it could eventually return Syrian refugees. The operation unleashed chaos across a part of Syria that has long been relatively stable. As the SDF came under pressure from the Turkish offensive, non-combat duties such as the policing of Isil detainees were set aside, enabling large-scale escapes of Isil members and families.  Running out of allies, the Kurds made a previously unthinkable deal with Damascus last week, allowing Syrian troops into areas under their control in exchange for protection from the Turkish attack. A five-day US-brokered ceasefire, announced on Thursday and only unevenly implemented, aimed to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from a 120-km (70-mile) strip of land that runs along the Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to restart the offensive if Kurdish fighters fail to pull out. A sticking point has been the besieged border town of Ras al-Ain, held by the Kurds but located in the middle of a future Turkish-controlled border zone. On Sunday, however, the Turkish defence ministry said that the SDF forces there had withdrawn, a move also confirmed by the Kurdish group.  In other parts of northern Syria, fighting continued as Turkish warplanes and a motley crew of Turkish-backed troops worked to oust Kurds from long-held positions along the Turkey-Syria border. Both sides have accused the other of violating the ceasefire, and yesterday Turkey's defence ministry alleged that one of its soldiers had been killed by Kurdish forces in the Tal Abyad border area. The dynamics of the conflict’s latest permutation are complex, with the US brokering a ceasefire between its NATO ally and former proxy even as it rolled out of the battlefield to continue the same fight from another front. The Turkish defence ministry asserted on Sunday that "there are absolutely no impediments to the withdrawal" of Kurdish forces and that "the activities of exiting and evacuation from the region are firmly coordinated with the US counterparts". But Mr Trump’s focus appears to be less on the ceasefire and more on the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and the limiting of America’s role there. After saying last week it was "time to bring our soldiers back home", he continued to claim they were returning to the United States despite being contradicted by Mr Esper.  On Sunday, Mr Trump referred to his defence secretary on Twitter as "Mark Esperanto” and added that “USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!" The president’s bizarre comment followed a high-level visit to Jordan led by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic US House speaker, for discussions on the "deepening crisis" in Syria.



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Erdogan Vows to Crush Kurd YPG if It Doesn’t Leave: Syria Update

Erdogan Vows to Crush Kurd YPG if It Doesn’t Leave: Syria Update(Bloomberg) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to resume the offensive against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria if they don’t withdraw by the end of a U.S.-brokered truce on Tuesday night.Kurdish and Turkish officials have repeatedly accused each other of violating the truce U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas along the border. One Turkish soldier was killed in an attack with anti-tank and light weapons by Kurdish YPG militants in the border town of Tal Abyad on Sunday, Turkey’s defense ministry said.Turkey and the Kurds have disagreed on the parameters of the truce, highlighting its fragility. The Syrian Democratic Forces has said the cease-fire was limited to the 120-kilometer (75-mile) strip between Tal Abyad and the town of Ras al-Ayn. Erdogan says the deal requires Kurdish fighters to withdraw from an area 444 kilometers long and 32 kilometers deep.The U.S. fought with the SDF for years to defeat Islamic State but withdrew from the area as Turkey began a long-threatened offensive this month to clear a part of northeastern Syria of Kurdish militants it considers a threat to national security. Abandoned by the U.S., the Kurds made a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops have deployed to the border with Turkey, upending old alliances and pushing the eight-year-old Syrian war into an unpredictable new phase.Here is a rundown of major events in Turkish local time:Key DevelopmentsTurkey vows to crush Kurdish militia if they do not withdraw by end of truceTurkey denies claims by Kurdish-led SDF of violating cease-fire, says safe corridor has been created to evacuate woundedU.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Erdogan announced cease-fire deal in Ankara after marathon talks on ThursdayTurkish markets rally a day after the U.S.-Turkey dealTrump faces Congressional rebuke for Syria pulloutJohnson, Erdogan Talk, Propose Meeting with Macron, Merkel (1:30 p.m.)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Erdogan spoke by telephone about the Syrian situation, and proposed a further meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.Turkey Says Soldier Killed by Kurdish Group in Cease-Fire Breach (10:10 a.m.)A Turkish soldier was killed and another one was wounded in an attack with anti-tank and light weapons by Kurdish YPG militants in the border town of Tal Abyad on Sunday, Turkey’s defense ministry said. The troops returned fire in self-defense, it said, adding that Turkish troops had come under 20 attacks since it paused the operation under the agreement with the U.S.Turkey Counters Kurds’ No-Safe-Passage Claim (10:40 p.m.)Turkey denied preventing the evacuation of wounded following claims by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that no safe corridor has been created.“There has been absolutely no prevention, and coordinates that can be safely used have been completely relayed to U.S. military officials,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.A 39-vehicle convoy, mostly ambulances, “safely went in an and out of Ras al-Ayn today and evacuated the wounded,” according to the statement. “The issue is being closely coordinated with U.S. military officials.”Erdogan Vows to Crush Kurdish Militia If They Don’t Withdraw (4:12 p.m.)“The 120-hour pause on operations will end Tuesday night, we will continue crushing heads of terrorists if they don’t withdraw by then,” Erdogan told thousands of flag-waving supporters in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri on Saturday.Erdogan also said he would discuss during his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week what to do about troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who have deployed to the border after striking a deal with the Kurds.“There are regime forces under Russian protection in parts of our operation area. We will discuss it with Putin. We’ve to find a solution,” he said.\–With assistance from Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Rosalind Mathieson, David Wainer, Taylan Bilgic, Justin Sink, Tony Capaccio, Steven T. Dennis and Onur Ant.To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net;Lin Noueihed in Beirut at lnoueihed@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, ;Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Angela Cullen, Shaji MathewFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Turkey wants Syrian forces to leave border areas, aide says

Turkey wants Syrian forces to leave border areas, aide saysTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Syrian government forces to move out of areas near the Turkish border so he can resettle up to 2 million refugees there, his spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday. The request will top Erdogan’s talks next week with Syria’s ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Arrangements along the Syrian-Turkish border were thrown into disarray after the U.S. pulled its troops out of the area, opening the door to Turkey’s invasion aiming to drive out Kurdish-led fighters it considers terrorists.



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Prince William and wife Kate leave Pakistan, day after aborted flight

Prince William and wife Kate leave Pakistan, day after aborted flight



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UPDATE 2-Prince William and wife Kate leave Pakistan, day after aborted flight

UPDATE 2-Prince William and wife Kate leave Pakistan, day after aborted flightBritain’s Prince William and his wife Kate left Pakistan on Friday after visiting an army dog training school, a day after a severe thunderstorm forced them to change their schedule and stay the night in Lahore. “What happens here in Pakistan directly correlates to what happens on the streets of the UK,” William told British media after he and Kate saw dogs that are trained to sniff out explosives.



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White House denies report China's Liu He plans to leave Washington on Thursday: CNBC

White House denies report China's Liu He plans to leave Washington on Thursday: CNBC“We are not aware of a change in the Vice Premier’s travel plans at this time,” a White House spokesman told CNBC. When asked if a breakthrough can be expected in the China talks this week, the official told CNBC that U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet made up his mind.



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Harris Releases Plan for Six Months of Taxpayer-Funded Family Leave

Harris Releases Plan for Six Months of Taxpayer-Funded Family LeaveSenator Kamala Harris on Monday released a paid family leave proposal that is significantly more generous than those embraced by the rest of the Democratic presidential field.As she campaigns in Iowa, the California Democrat detailed her plan to give workers up to six months of taxpayer-funded paid family and medical leave, twice the length of time provided by a family leave bill currently under consideration in Congress.Americans who earn less than $ 75,000 annually would receive their full wages during their paid leave, while those who earn more would receive incrementally less compensation. Employees would be able to take leave for personal or family medical issues, including to care for domestic partners, parents-in-law, and “chosen family.”Prerequisites for claiming the benefits include "personal serious health conditions, caring for new children or family members with serious health conditions, or addressing medical or non-medical needs," such as those arising from domestic violence or sexual assault, Harris' plan states.Self-employed workers, part-time employees, and independent contractors would all be eligible to claim the benefits.The former California attorney general also said she would put pressure on Congress to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would provide child care assistance to middle and lower-class families.The program would be run by a new Office of Paid Family and Medical Leave, which would be paid for by a "combination of employer and employee payroll contributions and government expenditures paid for by tax increases on the top one percent and big corporations."



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UAW official who is charged in corruption probe placed on leave

UAW official who is charged in corruption probe placed on leaveVance Pearson, who heads a 17-state UAW region and is charged with embezzling union money, wire fraud and money laundering, began the leave on Friday.



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UPDATE 1-Johnson proposes to leave N.Ireland in special relationship with EU until 2025-Telegraph

UPDATE 1-Johnson proposes to leave N.Ireland in special relationship with EU until 2025-TelegraphBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit plan will leave Northern Ireland in a special relationship with Europe until 2025, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday. The plan, which will be unveiled on Wednesday, means Northern Ireland will remain in large parts of the European Union single market until at least 2025 but the province will leave the EU customs union along with the rest of the UK, according to the report. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party (DUP) is largely “content” with the proposals, the Guardian reported separately, adding that the plan is supported by DUP leader Arlene Foster.



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With military parade, Iran warns U.S. and other Western forces to leave the Persian Gulf

With military parade, Iran warns U.S. and other Western forces to leave the Persian GulfAs Iran paraded its troops and its arsenal of various weapons Sunday, the country's president demanded the U.S. and other Western nations leave the Persian Gulf.



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