US urges Turkey to ‘exercise restraint’ in Syria operation

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 30, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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US urges Turkey to ‘exercise restraint’ in Syria operation

WASHINGTON: The United States called Sunday for Turkey to “exercise restraint” and avoid civilian casualties in its cross-border operation targeting Syrian Kurdish forces.
The call came a day after Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch,” an offensive by Ankara’s troops and allied Syrian rebels against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the town of Afrin.
“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“We call on all parties to remain focused on the central goal of defeating” Daesh, Nauert said.
The YPG has been a key US ally in the war against Daesh, helping to drive the rebel group from swaths of Syrian territory, including its stronghold Raqqa.
But Ankara considers YPG fighters to be “terrorists” linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been engaged in a separatist struggle against the Turkish state since 1984.
A Britain-based monitoring group and a YPG spokesman both said that Turkish air raids killed eight civilians in northern Syria on Sunday.
On Saturday, the YPG’s Birusk Hasakah told AFP that a Turkish bombardment had killed 10 people, including seven civilians.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sunday that claims of civilian casualties from the offensive were untrue.


Flash floods in southern Iran kill at least 17, injure 74

Updated 27 min 11 sec ago
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Flash floods in southern Iran kill at least 17, injure 74

  • Heavy rains outside the city of Shiraz triggered the sudden flooding
  • State TV earlier said most of the people killed had been trying to take videos of the flooding on their phones

TEHRAN: Flash floods in southern Iran have killed at least 17 people and injured 74, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.
Heavy rains outside the city of Shiraz triggered the sudden flooding, according to the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand.
State TV earlier said most of the people killed had been trying to take videos of the flooding on their phones.
The provinces of Fars, Kurdistan, Qom and Isfahan were on alert for imminent flooding, and the water authority in the capital, Tehran, said floods were a possibility there as well.
Enayatollah Rahimi, governor of Fars province, said the flooding is under control and aid work is in progress, but asked people “to stay in their homes,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
The northern provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran have been struggling with flooding for over a week, and five people have been killed, according to the state-run Press TV channel.
Over 56,000 people have been affected in various cities and rural areas in the two provinces as a result of heavy rainfall that hit on March 19 and 20.
Iran’s metrology department had warned about the heavy rains in various areas across Iran.
Last year, at least 30 people were killed by flash floods in the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan.