Biden orders Syrian Kurds to pull back; Assad govt slams Turkish incursion

Turkish army tanks move toward the Syrian border as pictured from Karkamis, Turkey, on Wednesday. The operation was launched hours before Vice President Joe Biden was due in Ankara for talks that include developments in Syria. (AP Photo)
Updated 24 August 2016

Biden orders Syrian Kurds to pull back; Assad govt slams Turkish incursion

ANKARA, Turkey: US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Syrian Kurdish forces to move back across the Euphrates River, telling them they will lose US support if they don’t.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday, Biden said Kurdish forces “must move back across the Euphrates River.”
He said “they cannot — will not — under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment.”
Biden indirectly expressed support for the Turkish operation launched Wednesday to clear Daesh militants from the town of Jarablus and deter Kurds from further expanding in northern Syria. Turkish tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed into Syria earlier in the morning, under the cover of US-led coalition airstrikes.
Turkish state media says Syrian opposition forces backed by Turkey have reached the “entrance” of Jarablus, which lies on the last main supply line between Daesh territory and the border.
The US-backed Kurdish forces seized the border town of Manbij from Daesh militants earlier this month. Turkey said they had to retreat after clearing it from Daesh.

'Blatant violation'

Syria’s government has denounced Turkish military incursion, describing it as Turkey’s “blatant violation” of Syrian sovereignty.
In a statement reported by state-run news agency SANA on Wednesday, the government says that “any move to combat terrorism on Syrian territories should have been coordinated with the Syrian government and army.”
The statement also calls for an immediate end to the Turkish “aggression,” which it says is being carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
It says: “Fighting terrorism cannot be undertaken by ousting Daesh and replacing it with other terrorist organizations directly backed by Turkey.” Daesh is the Arabic language acronym for Islamic State.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says Syrian rebels have captured a village from the Daesh group near the Daesh-held border town of Jarablus in a joint push with Turkey’s military.
The Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed military officials, said the Syrian opposition fighters took the village of Kaklijeh with the support of Turkish armored units.
Anadolu said the village is some 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away from the Turkish border. It said Turkish warplanes and artillery were also pressing ahead with their attacks against Daesh targets.
The report also said the rebel forces are expected to advance toward Jarablus backed by the Turkish armored units.

Daesh militants rounded up

Turkey’s state-run news agency says that police teams have mounted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Istanbul to detain several suspected members of the Daesh group.
The Anadolu Agency reported the operations took place early on Wednesday in two Istanbul districts and were coordinated by a helicopter flying overhead.
The operation comes days after a suspected Daesh bombing at a wedding in southeast Turkey killed at least 54 people. It also coincides with a Turkish military incursion into Syria to clear a border town of the Daesh group.
Several suspects were detained and their addresses searched. Authorities did not disclose the number of those detained.

Explosion targets a tourist bus, injures at least 16 near Cairo’s Great Pyramids: Security sources

Updated 8 min 39 sec ago

Explosion targets a tourist bus, injures at least 16 near Cairo’s Great Pyramids: Security sources

  • There were no reports of deaths
  • One security source said they included South African nationals

CAIRO: An explosion targeting a tourist bus injured at least 16 people near a new museum being built close to the Giza pyramids in Egypt on Sunday, two security sources said.

The sources said that most of the injuries were foreign tourists, with some social media users posting pictures of a damaged bus and what looked like injured tourists.

One security source said they included South African nationals.

There were no reports of deaths. A witness, Mohamed El-Mandouh, told Reuters he heard a "very loud explosion" while sitting in traffic near the site of the blast.

Pictures posted on social media showed a bus with some of its windows blown out or shattered, and debris in the road next to a low wall with a hole in it.

It is the second to target foreign tourists near the famed pyramids in less than six months. In December, three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian guide were killed and at least 10 others injured when a roadside bomb hit their tour bus less than 4 kilometres from the Giza pyramids. 

Egypt has battled militants for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an ongoing insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, which often targets minority Christians or tourists.

The attack comes as Egypt's vital tourism industry is showing signs of recovery after years in the doldrums because of the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak.

(With Agencies)