Tag Archives: Leaves

Strong quake leaves 1 dead, dozens injured in Philippines

Strong quake leaves 1 dead, dozens injured in PhilippinesAn earthquake hit the southern Philippines late Wednesday, killing a girl, and injuring more than two dozen people in collapsed houses, and sending thousands of panicked people scrambling out of homes, shopping malls and a hospital, officials and news reports said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.4 quake was centered about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Columbio, a landlocked town in the coastal province of Sultan Kudarat.



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PHOTOS: Typhoon Hagibis leaves dozens dead in Japan

PHOTOS: Typhoon Hagibis leaves dozens dead in JapanThe storm dumped record amounts of rain, causing rivers to overflow their banks and turning many neighborhoods into swamps.



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PHOTOS: Typhoon Hagibis leaves dozens dead in Japan

PHOTOS: Typhoon Hagibis leaves dozens dead in JapanThe storm dumped record amounts of rain, causing rivers to overflow their banks and turning many neighborhoods into swamps.



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Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling 'Ashamed,' and Kurdish Allies Describing 'Betrayal'

Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling 'Ashamed,' and Kurdish Allies Describing 'Betrayal'WASHINGTON — U.S. commandos were working alongside Kurdish forces at an outpost in eastern Syria last year when they were attacked by columns of Syrian government tanks and hundreds of troops, including Russian mercenaries. In the next hours, the Americans threw the Pentagon's arsenal at them, including B-52 strategic bombers. The attack was stopped.That operation, in the middle of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria, showed the extent to which the U.S. military was willing to protect the Syrian Kurds, its main ally on the ground.But now, with the White House revoking protection for these Kurdish fighters, some of the Special Forces officers who battled alongside the Kurds say they feel deep remorse at orders to abandon their allies."They trusted us and we broke that trust," one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria said last week in a telephone interview. "It's a stain on the American conscience.""I'm ashamed," said another officer who had also served in northern Syria. Both officers spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals from their chains of command.And the response from the Kurds themselves was just as stark. "The worst thing in military logic and comrades in the trench is betrayal," said Shervan Darwish, an official allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.The next flurry of orders from Washington, as some troops had feared, will pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria altogether. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Sunday that President Donald Trump had ordered the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops in the country's northeast to conduct a "deliberate withdrawal" out of the country in the coming days and weeks.The defense secretary's statement came after comments Friday pushing back on complaints that the United States was betraying allies in Syria — "We have not abandoned the Kurds" — even as he acknowledged that his Turkish counterpart had ignored his plea to stop the offensive.Army Special Forces soldiers — mostly members of the 3rd Special Forces Group — moved last week to consolidate their positions in the confines of their outposts miles away from the Syrian border, a quiet withdrawal that all but confirmed the United States' capitulation to the Turkish military's offensive to clear Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.But as the Americans pulled back, the Kurds moved north to try to reinforce their comrades fighting the offensive. The U.S. soldiers could only watch from their sandbag-lined walls. Orders from Washington were simple: Hands off. Let the Kurds fight for themselves.The orders contradicted the U.S. military's strategy in Syria over the last four years, especially when it came to the Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, who were integral to routing the Islamic State group from northeastern Syria. The Kurds had fought in Manbij, Raqqa and deep into the Euphrates River Valley, hunting the last Islamic State fighters in the group's now defunct physical caliphate. But the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, as the Kurdish and their allied Arab fighters on the ground are called, are being left behind.U.S. Special Forces and other troops had built close ties with their Kurdish allies, living on the same dusty compounds, sharing meals and common dangers. They fought side by side, and helped evacuate Kurdish dead and wounded from the battlefield."When they mourn, we mourn with them," Gen. Joseph L. Votel, a former head of the military's Central Command, said Thursday at the Middle East Institute.The Kurdish forces and U.S. military have survived previous strains, including Trump's sudden decision in December to withdraw all U.S. troops from northern Syria, a decision that was later walked back somewhat.This time may be different, and irreversible. "It would seem at this particular point, we've made it very, very hard for them to have a partnership relationship with us because of this recent policy decision," Votel said.As part of security measures the United States brokered to tamp down tensions with Turkish troops, Kurdish forces agreed to pull back from the border, destroy fortifications and return some heavy weapons — steps meant to show that they posed no threat to Turkish territory, but that later made them more vulnerable when Turkey launched its offensive.Special Forces officers described another recent operation with Kurds that underscored the tenacity of the group. The Americans and the Kurdish troops were searching for a low-level Islamic State leader in northern Syria. It was a difficult mission and unlikely they would find the commander.From his operations center, one U.S. officer watched the Kurds work alongside the Americans on the ground in an almost indistinguishable symmetry. They captured the Islamic State fighter."The SDF's elite counterterrorism units are hardened veterans of the war against ISIS whom the U.S. has seen in action and trust completely," said Nicholas A. Heras, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who visited the SDF in July to advise them on the Islamic State group, or ISIS.During the battle against ISIS, coordination between the U.S. military and the Syrian Democratic Forces has extended from the highest levels to rank-and-file fighters, according to multiple interviews with SDF fighters and commanders in Syria over the course of the campaign.SDF commanders worked side by side with U.S. military officers in a joint command center in a defunct cement factory near the northern Syrian town of Kobani, where they discussed strategy and planned future operations.The battle of Kobani that began in 2014 gave birth to the United States' ties to the Kurds in northeastern Syria. ISIS fighters, armed with heavy American-made artillery captured from retreating Iraqi army units, surrounded Kobani, a Kurdish city, and entered parts of it.Despite the Obama administration's initial reluctance to offer help, the United States carried out airstrikes against advancing ISIS militants, and its military aircraft dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to replenish the Kurdish combatants.That aid helped turn the tide, the Kurds defeated ISIS, and U.S. commanders realized they had discovered a valuable ally in the fight against the terrorist group.Thousands of SDF fighters received training from the United States in battlefield tactics, reconnaissance and first aid. Reconnaissance teams learned to identify Islamic State locations and transmit them to the command center for the U.S.-led military coalition to plan airstrikes.Visitors to front-line SDF positions often saw Syrian officers with iPads and laptops they used to communicate information to their U.S. colleagues."For the last two years, the coordination was pretty deep," said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Washington-based Kurdish affairs analyst who has spent time in northeastern Syria. "The mutual trust was very high, the mutual confidence, because this collaboration brought enormous results.""They completed each other," he said of the SDF and U.S.-led coalition. "The coalition didn't have boots on the ground, and fighters didn't have air support, so they needed each other."That coordination was critical in many of the big battles against the Islamic State group.To open the battle in one town, SDF fighters were deposited by coalition aircraft behind the Islamic State group's lines. At the start of another battle, U.S. Special Operations forces helped the SDF plot and execute an attack across the Euphrates River.Even after the Islamic State group had lost most of its territory, the United States trained counterterrorism units to do tactical raids on ISIS hideouts and provided them with intelligence needed to plan them.Even in territory far from the front lines with the Islamic State, SDF vehicles often drove before and after U.S. convoys through Syrian towns and SDF fighters provided perimeter security at facilities where U.S. personnel were based.The torturous part of America's on-again, off-again alliance with the Kurds — one in which the United States has routinely armed the Kurds to fight various regimes it viewed as adversaries — emerged in 1974, as the Kurds were rebelling against Iraq. Iran and the United States were allies, and the Shah of Iran and Henry Kissinger encouraged the Kurdish rebellion against the Iraqi government. CIA agents were sent to the Iraq-Iran border to help the Kurds.The Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani did not trust the Shah of Iran, but believed Kissinger when he said that the Kurds would receive help from the Americans.But a year later, the Shah of Iran made a deal with Saddam Hussein on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting: In return for some territorial adjustments along the Iran-Iraq border, the shah agreed to stop support for the Kurds.Kissinger signed off on the plan, the Iraqi military slaughtered thousands of Kurds and the United States stood by. When questioned, Kissinger delivered his now famous explanation: "Covert action," he said, "should not be confused with missionary work."In the fight against ISIS in Syria, Kurdish fighters followed their hard-fought triumph in Kobani by liberating other Kurdish towns. Then the Americans asked their newfound Kurdish allies to go into Arab areas, team up with local militias and reclaim those areas from the Islamic State group.The U.S. military implored the SDF to fight in the Arab areas, and so they advanced, seizing Raqqa and Deir el-Zour, winning but suffering large numbers of casualties.The American-Kurdish military alliance against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq "began with us helping them," said Peter W. Galbraith, the former U.S. diplomat who has for years also been a senior adviser to the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq. "But by the end, it was them helping us. They are the ones who recovered the territory that ISIS had taken."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company



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The Latest: Typhoon leaves up to 33 dead in Japan

The Latest: Typhoon leaves up to 33 dead in JapanRescuers in Japan are continuing to help people in the aftermath of a ferocious typhoon, as the death toll from the storm climbed to as high as 33. The government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, which tends to be conservative in its counts, said late Sunday that 14 people died and 11 were missing as a result of Typhoon Hagibis, while 187 suffered injuries. Japan’s Kyodo News agency said 33 people died and 19 were missing.



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Wife of US diplomat, suspect in fatal UK crash that left teen dead, leaves country

Wife of US diplomat, suspect in fatal UK crash that left teen dead, leaves countryHarry Dunn, 19, of Charlton, Banbury, died after his motorbike collided with a car near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.



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US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertain

US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertainTrump’s latest move has officials scrambling to understand the implications as Turkish forces gather near the Syrian borderTurkish fighters gather near the north-east Syrian border in preparation of a widely-anticipated invasion. Photograph: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP via Getty ImagesKurdish forces in Syria have said the fate of tens of thousands of suspected Islamic State fighters and their families is uncertain, after US forces began a sudden withdrawal from the country, abandoning their former ally on the eve of a widely-anticipated Turkish invasion.The effects of the shock retreat continued to reverberate through the region on Monday as Turkish forces massed near the border with the Kurdish stronghold of north-eastern Syria.The looming offensive– which was green-lighted by Donald Trump in a phone call to Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Sunday – came as a surprise to US officials and allies, who were scrambling to understand the implications. There was a furious backlash in Congress, including from some of Trump’s closest allies, who accused the president of betraying the Kurds.The decision represents the latest in a series of erratic moves by Trump, who is fighting impeachment at home, apparently taken without consultation with, or knowledge of, US diplomats dealing with Syria, or the UK and France, the US’s main international partners in the country.A White House statement on Sunday night after his conversation with his Turkish counterpart said that: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria”, adding that US forces were being removed from the area.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday its US partners had already begun withdrawing troops from areas along Turkey’s border. Footage aired on Kurdish news agency Hawar purportedly showed US armoured vehicles evacuating key positions in the border region.The SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, accused the US of leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”, adding that the SDF would “defend north-east Syria at all costs”.But on Monday the Pentagon, which has been cooperating with Turkey along the Syrian border, issued a statement saying: “The department of defence made clear to Turkey – as did the president – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria. The US armed forces will not support or be involved in any such operation.”State department officials also sought to minimize the announcement, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, and suggesting that Turkey might not go through with a large-scale invasion.In the face of fierce criticism from both political rivals and allies in Congress, Trump took to Twitter to try to defend the move and threaten Turkey.“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he said.“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he said.It was unclear however, what was “off limits”.In earlier tweets, Trump had appeared unsentimental about the Kurds, noting that they had been paid “massive amounts of money and equipment” in the four year campaign, when they were used as the main US proxy to fight Isis in Syria.But the issue of Isis foreign fighters, most of them European, has clearly preoccupied the US president.Both Trump and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have repeatedly called on European states to repatriate around 20,000 foreign nationals currently held in north-east Syria for trial and rehabilitation at home.Trump argued it was up to Turkey and Europe and others, “to watch over the captured Isis fighters and families”.An SDF spokesman, Amjed Osman, said on Monday it was not clear what would happen to the prisoners. “We repeatedly called for foreign states to take responsibility for their Isis nationals. But there was no response,” he said in a statement. It is far from clear if Turkey has the capacity – or desire – to take custody of the detainees being held in crowded Kurdish jails and displacement camps, stretching the SDF to its limits and prompting warnings that militants are using the prisons to regroup.Some 74,000 women and children of the caliphate are held at the infamous Hawl camp, where they are guarded by just 400 SDF soldiers. But the camp, a hotbed of violence and extremist ideology, falls outside the parameters of the 32km-deep safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border that Erdogan has said his forces would establish.Aid agencies warned that an offensive could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and create a new humanitarian disaster.Save the Children said that more than 9,000 children from 40 countries were being held in camps and depended on humanitarian aid to survive.“Reports of imminent military operations and troops already sent to the border are deeply troubling. The international community, including the UK, should take urgent steps to do what’s best for these children and bring them to their home countries before access becomes even more unpredictable,” the group said.The Guardian understands that the SAS and French special forces present in Rojava would be tasked with securing the camp perimeters if the Kurds withdrew. However, with only several hundred troops between them, their numbers would need to be quickly boosted by regular soldiers to avoid a catastrophic collapse in security.In Washington, the move was condemned by allies and opponents of the president. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the move “poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner”.Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump loyalist on most issues, said he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham wrote in a tweet.During the campaign against Isis, the SDF did the bulk of the ground fighting to defeat Isis in Syria, losing 11,000 troops in the grinding battle. The senior ranks of the organisation are dominated by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a four-decade guerilla war against the Turkish government.Ankara has long complained that, while fighting Isis, PKK forces were also waging war in Turkey.



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School leaves 'bullied' child outside in cold with no coat and then reports him missing

School leaves 'bullied' child outside in cold with no coat and then reports him missingA woman is suing school bosses in Chicago after her nine-year-old son was left outside in the cold without a coat.Yvonne Pinkston said her son, then a fourth grader at Fiske Elementary School in Englewood, Illinois, was deliberately locked outside of his school in near-freezing temperatures after he complained about being bullied by both students and staff.



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Imelda leaves 2 dead in Texas, others stranded and trapped

Imelda leaves 2 dead in Texas, others stranded and trappedEmergency crews continued to pull motorists and others from high water Friday after the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda soaked the Houston area, leaving at least two people dead during the relentless downpour. The aftermath from Imelda, which drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago, was blamed for major travel headaches as motorists slogged through water-swollen streets and air travelers faced flight delays and cancellations. Nearly 123,000 vehicles normally cross the bridges each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.



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Israeli vote leaves Netanyahu's political future in doubt

Israeli vote leaves Netanyahu's political future in doubtAfter a decade of mesmerizing world leaders, subduing his rivals and eking out dramatic election victories, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future is suddenly in doubt. With near-final results from Israel’s election on Tuesday, he has been left well short of the parliamentary majority he had sought — not only to continue in power but also to fend off a looming corruption indictment. With over 90% of the votes counted late Wednesday, challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party captured 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament, to 32 seats for Netanyahu’s conservative Likud.



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