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A Blind Syrian Refugee Finds His Way in New York

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After fleeing the Syrian regime, Amier Agha and his family settled in New York, where he has access to services for the visually impaired for the first time since he lost his sight.

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

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Investigate chemical incidents in Syria instead of blaming Damascus & distorting our views – Moscow

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72 Turkish Jets Bomb U.S.-Backed Kurdish Militias in Syria

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Plumes of smoke rise after airstrikes in northwest Syria on Saturday, as seen from the the border town of Kilis, Turkey. Credit Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

ISTANBUL — Turkish jets bombed the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Saturday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey vowed to crush Kurdish militant forces across northern Syria to remove what he said was a terrorist threat.

The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that jets bombed more than 100 targets, including an air base, in the first day of air operations against Kurdish militias. Fighters of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army also crossed the border into the enclave and engaged Kurdish militants, the agency reported.

Mr. Erdogan has pressed ahead with the offensive despite warnings from the United States that it would further destabilize war-torn Syria. Syria and Russia expressed milder objections.

The Turkish president said “no one can say a word” about the operation.

“Beginning from the west, step by step, we will annihilate the terror corridor up to the Iraqi border,” Mr. Erdogan told a local congress of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Kutahya on Saturday.

“No one can say a word,” he went on. “Whatever happens, we do not care anymore at all. Now we only care about what happens on the ground.”

Photo
Syrian rebel fighters near the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Saturday. Credit Omar Haj Kadour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Soon after the president spoke, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the offensive had started, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The operation, named “Olive Branch,” aims to eliminate terrorists and establish security along Turkey’s border with Syria and to save “friends and brothers” from the terrorists’ oppression, the ministry said in a statement.

Continue reading the main story

Bekir Bozdag, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, said on Twitter that Turkey would respect Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and would pull out of the region once the target was achieved.

He added that the military campaign was not against the Syrian government or its people but against terrorist organizations. He named the Kurdish Y.P.G. and P.K.K. groups, as well as the Islamic State, as the targeted organizations.

“The only target of the operation is the terrorist groups and the terrorists as well as their barracks, shelters, positions, weapons, vehicles and equipment,” he said. “Civilians are never targeted. Every kind of planning has been done to avoid any damage to civilians.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern at the assault and called for restraint. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it was withdrawing its troops and military police from the enclave to avoid any conflict.

Photo
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey addressed supporters in Usak, Turkey, on Saturday. Credit Pool photo by Kayhan Ozer

In a later statement Russia blamed the United States for the clashes.

“Provocative actions by the U.S., aimed at isolating regions with predominantly Kurdish population, were the main factors that contributed to the development of a crisis in this part of Syria,” the statement read.

Yet despite Russian reservations, it appears there was high level communication between Turkey and Russia on the operation. The chief of staff of Turkey’s army, Hulusi Akar, who is commanding the operation, visited Moscow on Thursday with the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan.

And despite its expression of concern, Russia cooperated on deconfliction efforts by allowing Turkish jets into Syrian airspace and by removing its troops form Afrin, Turkish analysts said.

The Turkish Army announced Saturday evening that 72 fighter jets had returned safely to their bases.

The general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the mainly Syrian Kurdish rebel force that has led the United States-backed fight against the Islamic State, appealed to Turkey to cease its operation in Afrin, calling it an unjustifiable aggression against the Syrian people that would undermine the fight against the Islamic State.

“If attacked, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves and our people,” the command said in a statement, “but we state in front of the world that we harbor no hostile intent towards Turkey.”

Photo
A Syrian rebel fighter watches as smoke billows from a Kurdish People’s Protection Units position in Afrin, Syria, on Saturday. Credit Nazeer Al-Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Syrians in the region expressed alarm, as the aerial bombardment hit outlying villages along the Turkish border.

Civilians were fearful and were leaving Afrin and the villages along the border, a resident of Afrin said. He asked that his name be withheld from publication out of concern for his safety.

A lawmaker in Syria’s Parliament expressed concern that Turkey was looking to create strife among Syrians by using Arab members of the rebel Free Syrian Army to fight Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian government and some Kurdish militias were negotiating to raise Syrian government flags over public buildings in Afrin to try to avert the Turkish bombing, the lawmaker said. The lawmaker added there was a split among Kurds about whether to accept the Syrian government’s retaking of Afrin, in a bid to end the Turkish offensive, or whether Kurds should maintain control and resist the offensive.

Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat who defected during the early days of the crisis, sent out a forlorn appeal to all parties to abide by an agreement forged in March between American-backed Kurdish rebels and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters on the control of villages around Afrin.

“Given previous discussions about this settlement to reduce further bloodshed and lives lost on both sides,” he wrote in an email, “it is important to consider a return to this agreement to reduce tensions.”

Continue reading the main story

ISTANBUL — Turkish jets bombed the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Saturday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey vowed to crush Kurdish militant forces across northern Syria to remove what he said was a terrorist threat.

The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that jets bombed more than 100 targets, including an air base, in the first day of air operations against Kurdish militias. Fighters of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army also crossed the border into the enclave and engaged Kurdish militants, the agency reported.

Mr. Erdogan has pressed ahead with the offensive despite warnings from the United States that it would further destabilize war-torn Syria. Syria and Russia expressed milder objections.

The Turkish president said “no one can say a word” about the operation.

“Beginning from the west, step by step, we will annihilate the terror corridor up to the Iraqi border,” Mr. Erdogan told a local congress of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Kutahya on Saturday.

“No one can say a word,” he went on. “Whatever happens, we do not care anymore at all. Now we only care about what happens on the ground.”

Soon after the president spoke, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the offensive had started, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The operation, named “Olive Branch,” aims to eliminate terrorists and establish security along Turkey’s border with Syria and to save “friends and brothers” from the terrorists’ oppression, the ministry said in a statement.

Bekir Bozdag, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, said on Twitter that Turkey would respect Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and would pull out of the region once the target was achieved.

He added that the military campaign was not against the Syrian government or its people but against terrorist organizations. He named the Kurdish Y.P.G. and P.K.K. groups, as well as the Islamic State, as the targeted organizations.

“The only target of the operation is the terrorist groups and the terrorists as well as their barracks, shelters, positions, weapons, vehicles and equipment,” he said. “Civilians are never targeted. Every kind of planning has been done to avoid any damage to civilians.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern at the assault and called for restraint. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it was withdrawing its troops and military police from the enclave to avoid any conflict.

In a later statement Russia blamed the United States for the clashes.

“Provocative actions by the U.S., aimed at isolating regions with predominantly Kurdish population, were the main factors that contributed to the development of a crisis in this part of Syria,” the statement read.

Yet despite Russian reservations, it appears there was high level communication between Turkey and Russia on the operation. The chief of staff of Turkey’s army, Hulusi Akar, who is commanding the operation, visited Moscow on Thursday with the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan.

And despite its expression of concern, Russia cooperated on deconfliction efforts by allowing Turkish jets into Syrian airspace and by removing its troops form Afrin, Turkish analysts said.

The Turkish Army announced Saturday evening that 72 fighter jets had returned safely to their bases.

The general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the mainly Syrian Kurdish rebel force that has led the United States-backed fight against the Islamic State, appealed to Turkey to cease its operation in Afrin, calling it an unjustifiable aggression against the Syrian people that would undermine the fight against the Islamic State.

“If attacked, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves and our people,” the command said in a statement, “but we state in front of the world that we harbor no hostile intent towards Turkey.”

Syrians in the region expressed alarm, as the aerial bombardment hit outlying villages along the Turkish border.

Civilians were fearful and were leaving Afrin and the villages along the border, a resident of Afrin said. He asked that his name be withheld from publication out of concern for his safety.

A lawmaker in Syria’s Parliament expressed concern that Turkey was looking to create strife among Syrians by using Arab members of the rebel Free Syrian Army to fight Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian government and some Kurdish militias were negotiating to raise Syrian government flags over public buildings in Afrin to try to avert the Turkish bombing, the lawmaker said. The lawmaker added there was a split among Kurds about whether to accept the Syrian government’s retaking of Afrin, in a bid to end the Turkish offensive, or whether Kurds should maintain control and resist the offensive.

Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat who defected during the early days of the crisis, sent out a forlorn appeal to all parties to abide by an agreement forged in March between American-backed Kurdish rebels and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters on the control of villages around Afrin.

“Given previous discussions about this settlement to reduce further bloodshed and lives lost on both sides,” he wrote in an email, “it is important to consider a return to this agreement to reduce tensions.”

Nytimes

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