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.

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 6 min 47 sec ago

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.