Turkey says ‘plans complete’ for assault on Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey “has begun real interventions against the terror organization.” (AP)
Updated 30 October 2018

Turkey says ‘plans complete’ for assault on Kurdish militia in Syria

  • Erdogan has previously made similar threats and gave the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) a “final warning”
  • YPG holds swathes of territory in northern and northeastern Syria

Ankara: Turkey has completed preparations for a new operation in northern Syria to “destroy” a US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a terrorist group, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia holds territory east of the Euphrates River, where Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch an fresh offensive.
“We are going to destroy the terrorist structure in the east of the Euphrates. We have completed our preparations, plans, programs regarding this issue,” Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling party in parliament.
Erdogan appeared to indirectly confirm Turkish state media reports that the Turkish military fired artillery shells at YPG positions east of the Euphrates in the Kobani region of northern Syria on Sunday. The YPG has held the area since 2015.
“In fact, in the past few days, we have begun real interventions against the terror organization,” Erdogan said, without giving further details.
“We are going to breathe down the necks of the terror organization with comprehensive and effective operations soon. As I have always said, we can come suddenly one night.”
Erdogan has previously made similar threats and on Friday gave the YPG a “final warning.”
While the YPG has worked closely with Washington against the Daesh group in Syria, causing tension between NATO allies Turkey and the US, Ankara says the militia is a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The YPG holds swathes of territory in northern and northeastern Syria.
Earlier this year, Turkish military forces backed Syrian opposition fighters to retake the western Afrin region from the YPG during a two-month air and ground offensive.
Ankara previously launched an offensive between 2016 and 2017 against Daesh on its border with Syria and to stop areas under YPG control from joining.


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

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Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.