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Syria Joins Paris Climate Accord, Leaving Only U.S. Opposed

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President Trump vowed to withdraw from the Paris climate accord in a speech in the Rose Garden in June. Syria’s announcement on Tuesday that it will join the pact leaves the United States as the only country that has rejected it. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Then there was one.

Syria announced during United Nations climate talks on Tuesday that it would sign the Paris agreement on climate change. The move, which comes on the heels of Nicaragua signing the accord last month, will leave the United States as the only country that has rejected the global pact.

According to several people who were in a plenary session at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, a Syrian delegate announced that the country was poised to send its ratification of the Paris agreement to the United Nations.

“This is the very last country that actually announced, so everyone has joined and the U.S. is now so isolated,” said Safa Al Jayoussi, executive director of IndyAct, an environmental organization based in Lebanon that works with Arab countries on climate change.

A White House spokeswoman, Kelly Love, pointed reporters to a statement the administration made when Nicaragua joined the pact, noting there had been no change in the United States’ position.

“As the president previously stated, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms the are more favorable for our country,” the statement said.

President Trump announced in a Rose Garden speech this summer that the United States would quit the deal, calling it bad for America’s economy.

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The Paris agreement, struck in 2015 under former President Barack Obama, calls on nearly 200 countries to voluntarily curb greenhouse gas emissions. At the time, only Nicaragua and Syria did not join, for very different reasons.

Nicaraguan leaders argued that the deal did not go far enough toward keeping carbon emissions at safe levels and helping vulnerable countries protect themselves from the effects of climate change. But last month Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s president, and Rosario Murillo, his vice president and wife, said in a joint statement that the country would sign anyway. “The Paris agreement, despite not being the ideal agreement, is the only instrument that currently allows this unity of intentions and efforts,” they said.

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Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011. And because the Syrian government is subject to European and American sanctions, its leaders were unable to send representatives abroad to negotiate or sign the pact.

It is not clear what has changed, and the Syrian delegate who spoke Tuesday did not offer an explanation for the government’s decision.

Syria has not yet submitted targets for cutting greenhouse gases. Syria produces only a tiny fraction of global emissions, but every country that is party to the accord, including poverty-stricken and war-torn nations and tiny islands, has produced a plan for cutting carbon output.

“With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” said Paula Caballero, director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute. “The U.S.’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change.”

Under the rules of the Paris agreement, the United States cannot formally withdraw until late 2020. Until then, administration officials have said, they will continue to negotiate the terms of the deal, but they have not specified what changes would be sufficient for the United States to reconsider quitting. American negotiators are attending the talks underway in Germany.

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — Then there was one.

Syria announced during United Nations climate talks on Tuesday that it would sign the Paris agreement on climate change. The move, which comes on the heels of Nicaragua signing the accord last month, will leave the United States as the only country that has rejected the global pact.

According to several people who were in a plenary session at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, a Syrian delegate announced that the country was poised to send its ratification of the Paris agreement to the United Nations.

“This is the very last country that actually announced, so everyone has joined and the U.S. is now so isolated,” said Safa Al Jayoussi, executive director of IndyAct, an environmental organization based in Lebanon that works with Arab countries on climate change.

A White House spokeswoman, Kelly Love, pointed reporters to a statement the administration made when Nicaragua joined the pact, noting there had been no change in the United States’ position.

“As the president previously stated, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms the are more favorable for our country,” the statement said.

President Trump announced in a Rose Garden speech this summer that the United States would quit the deal, calling it bad for America’s economy.

The Paris agreement, struck in 2015 under former President Barack Obama, calls on nearly 200 countries to voluntarily curb greenhouse gas emissions. At the time, only Nicaragua and Syria did not join, for very different reasons.

Nicaraguan leaders argued that the deal did not go far enough toward keeping carbon emissions at safe levels and helping vulnerable countries protect themselves from the effects of climate change. But last month Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s president, and Rosario Murillo, his vice president and wife, said in a joint statement that the country would sign anyway. “The Paris agreement, despite not being the ideal agreement, is the only instrument that currently allows this unity of intentions and efforts,” they said.

Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011. And because the Syrian government is subject to European and American sanctions, its leaders were unable to send representatives abroad to negotiate or sign the pact.

It is not clear what has changed, and the Syrian delegate who spoke Tuesday did not offer an explanation for the government’s decision.

Syria has not yet submitted targets for cutting greenhouse gases. Syria produces only a tiny fraction of global emissions, but every country that is party to the accord, including poverty-stricken and war-torn nations and tiny islands, has produced a plan for cutting carbon output.

“With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” said Paula Caballero, director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute. “The U.S.’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change.”

Under the rules of the Paris agreement, the United States cannot formally withdraw until late 2020. Until then, administration officials have said, they will continue to negotiate the terms of the deal, but they have not specified what changes would be sufficient for the United States to reconsider quitting. American negotiators are attending the talks underway in Germany.

Nytimes

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Syria

Turkey Begins Ground Assault on Kurdish Enclave in Syria

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Turkish soldiers waiting Sunday near the Syrian border. Turkish forces renewed their assault on Kurdish militia. Credit Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Turkish troops crossed the Syrian border into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday morning, beginning a ground assault against American-allied militias there, as the first accounts of casualties emerged amid rising international criticism of Turkey’s military action.

Turkish fighter jets were again in the skies Sunday bombing Kurdish militia targets in the border region. Ten people were reported killed in the bombing raids, according to Kurdish militants, and three people died on the Turkish side of the border in retaliatory shelling, local people said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of Turkey confirmed to local journalists that his country’s troops had crossed the border into Syria on Sunday morning.

Mr. Yildirim said the forces intended to create a security zone about 18 miles deep inside Syria. The area would encompass urban centers, including the town of Afrin, with a predominantly Kurdish population, and the much larger city of Manbij, further east, as well as dozens of outlying villages.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to eliminate “terrorist nests” in the Kurdish enclave, but on Sunday he promised that the operation would be swift. “Hopefully, we will complete this operation in a very short time,” he said in a speech to the women’s branch of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Bursa.

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“The real issue here is to deliver Afrin to its real owners,” Mr. Erdogan said. He said that “we have 3.5 million Syrians in our lands” and that Turkey wanted “to send our Syrian brothers back to their own land as soon as possible.”

Mr. Erdogan’s comments came amid growing international dismay over Turkey’s intervention, and amid reports of Syrian fighters massing to join the fight on both sides.

Members of the Free Syrian Army have been joining to fight alongside Turkish troops. Many of them are refugees from Arab villages and towns in the region.

At the same time, hundreds of Kurdish fighters from the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, were assembling in towns to the east and south of Afrin, according to The Associated Press.

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Syrian-Kurds demonstrating Sunday in the town of Amuda against the Turkish military action. Credit Delil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A shopkeeper in Raqqa, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, said by text message that a large number of Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were being sent from Raqqa to Manbij to prepare for a Turkish attack. His cousin was among 1,000 fighters gathered in Manbij and commanders were telling them an attack was imminent.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Turkish and Russian counterparts on Saturday to express concern about the situation, a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement.

“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” the statement said.

France called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the developments and also urged Turkey to act with restraint, noting that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating in several regions of Syria.

Turkish officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for its support and arming of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the Y.P.G., which are spearheading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Yet they made clear Sunday they did not want to confront American troops in Syria.

Mr. Yildirim said Turkish forces would seek to destroy any logistics supply routes to Kurdish units, but Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said United States officials had assured Turkey there were no American troops in the region.

“It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the U.S. in the region,” he said at a news briefing for international reporters Sunday.

By nightfall Turkish troops seemed to have advanced only a few miles into Syria.

Syrian fighters allied with Turkish forces claimed to have seized control of Shankal, a village on the northwestern edge of the Afrin district, but Kurdish fighters rejected the claim.

Casualties were reported from both sides, but numbers varied.

Hanadi Hafsi, a homemaker who lives in Reyhanli, a border district in Turkey, said two Syrians and a Turk died Sunday afternoon from shelling by Kurdish militias. The shells fell on a market, killing three and wounding 32, she said. Turkish officials said that only one Syrian had refugee died and that 37 people were wounded.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the “indiscriminate rocket fire by #PYD/#YPG terrorists” in a Twitter post. “This attack on innocent people shows the real face of #PYD terrorists.”

Continue reading the main story

ISTANBUL — Turkish troops crossed the Syrian border into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday morning, beginning a ground assault against American-allied militias there, as the first accounts of casualties emerged amid rising international criticism of Turkey’s military action.

Turkish fighter jets were again in the skies Sunday bombing Kurdish militia targets in the border region. Ten people were reported killed in the bombing raids, according to Kurdish militants, and three people died on the Turkish side of the border in retaliatory shelling, local people said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of Turkey confirmed to local journalists that his country’s troops had crossed the border into Syria on Sunday morning.

Mr. Yildirim said the forces intended to create a security zone about 18 miles deep inside Syria. The area would encompass urban centers, including the town of Afrin, with a predominantly Kurdish population, and the much larger city of Manbij, further east, as well as dozens of outlying villages.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to eliminate “terrorist nests” in the Kurdish enclave, but on Sunday he promised that the operation would be swift. “Hopefully, we will complete this operation in a very short time,” he said in a speech to the women’s branch of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Bursa.

“The real issue here is to deliver Afrin to its real owners,” Mr. Erdogan said. He said that “we have 3.5 million Syrians in our lands” and that Turkey wanted “to send our Syrian brothers back to their own land as soon as possible.”

Mr. Erdogan’s comments came amid growing international dismay over Turkey’s intervention, and amid reports of Syrian fighters massing to join the fight on both sides.

Members of the Free Syrian Army have been joining to fight alongside Turkish troops. Many of them are refugees from Arab villages and towns in the region.

At the same time, hundreds of Kurdish fighters from the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, were assembling in towns to the east and south of Afrin, according to The Associated Press.

A shopkeeper in Raqqa, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, said by text message that a large number of Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were being sent from Raqqa to Manbij to prepare for a Turkish attack. His cousin was among 1,000 fighters gathered in Manbij and commanders were telling them an attack was imminent.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Turkish and Russian counterparts on Saturday to express concern about the situation, a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement.

“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” the statement said.

France called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the developments and also urged Turkey to act with restraint, noting that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating in several regions of Syria.

Turkish officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for its support and arming of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the Y.P.G., which are spearheading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Yet they made clear Sunday they did not want to confront American troops in Syria.

Mr. Yildirim said Turkish forces would seek to destroy any logistics supply routes to Kurdish units, but Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said United States officials had assured Turkey there were no American troops in the region.

“It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the U.S. in the region,” he said at a news briefing for international reporters Sunday.

By nightfall Turkish troops seemed to have advanced only a few miles into Syria.

Syrian fighters allied with Turkish forces claimed to have seized control of Shankal, a village on the northwestern edge of the Afrin district, but Kurdish fighters rejected the claim.

Casualties were reported from both sides, but numbers varied.

Hanadi Hafsi, a homemaker who lives in Reyhanli, a border district in Turkey, said two Syrians and a Turk died Sunday afternoon from shelling by Kurdish militias. The shells fell on a market, killing three and wounding 32, she said. Turkish officials said that only one Syrian had refugee died and that 37 people were wounded.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the “indiscriminate rocket fire by #PYD/#YPG terrorists” in a Twitter post. “This attack on innocent people shows the real face of #PYD terrorists.”

Nytimes

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Syria

Turkey fires barrage of missiles on Kurdish-held targets in Syria (VIDEO)

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Syria

Last thing Syria needs after beating ISIS is another conflict – German FM on Turkish op

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