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  1. #8866

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Fighting continues in Syrian border town despite Turkish agreement to halt offensive
    Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khattab

    Oct. 18, 2019 at 7:53 a.m. EDT

    BEIRUT — Sporadic fighting continued Friday in a Syrian border town, less than 12 hours after Turkey agreed to halt its offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria in a deal brokered by the United States.

    Smoke could be seen rising from the town, Ras al-Ayn, in footage broadcast by CNN early Friday. Journalists for the Associated Press reported shelling and the sound of gunfire.

    The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces “is committed to the cease-fire, but the [Turkish-backed] factions and the Turkish army are targeting SDF positions, especially Ras al-Ayn hospital,” a spokesman for the SDF said.

    On Thursday, after hours of negotiations between Vice President Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Pence announced an agreement that appeared to provide Turkey with much of what it aimed for when it launched its offensive into Syria last week, including the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish groups from territory stretching about 20 miles south of the Turkish border.

    The White House also agreed to refrain from imposing new economic sanctions on Turkey, and to reverse sanctions that were imposed earlier this week, once “a permanent cease-fire was in effect,” Pence said.

    Pence said Turkey agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of the SDF. After the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation, which began Oct. 9, would be “halted entirely,” Pence said.

    For the SDF, which partnered with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State, the agreement is “just the beginning,” Mazloum Kobane Abdi, the group’s commander, said in an interview on Kurdish television.

    “We accepted this agreement and will do whatever it takes to make it work,” he said, but he stressed that “the Turkish occupation will not continue.”

    Trump hailed the agreement as a victory for all parties involved. “I didn’t know it was going to work out this quickly. I didn’t know it was going to work out this well,” he told reporters Thursday in Texas. Others said the agreement rewarded Turkey’s military offensive and contained no assurance that Erdogan’s government would withdraw from Syria.

    “The Turkish army has seized a great deal of territory in a very short period of time,” James M. Jeffrey, the State Department’s Syria envoy, told reporters on Thursday. “We had no doubt whatsoever that they would not continue seizing territory if we couldn’t get a cease-fire.”

    “There’s no doubt that the YPG wishes that they could stay in these areas,” he added, referring to the Syrian Kurdish militias.

    “It is our assessment that they had no military ability to hold onto these areas, and therefore, we thought the cease-fire would be much better.” He added that Washington would work with Ankara on addressing humanitarian needs in the zone.

    The U.N. refu*gee agency said Friday that 2,300 refugees have arrived in Iraq from Syria so far since the beginning of the offensive, with more than 700 crossing the border overnight.

    Speaking to journalists outside a mosque where he performed Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkish forces will not be leaving the agreed-upon safe zone, which he said is 32 kilometers deep and 444 kilometers long (20 miles by 276 miles). He said he will meet Russian President Vladi*mir Putin on Tuesday, the fifth and last day of the cease-fire.

    Erdogan added that no clashes are occurring in the area anymore, despite witness accounts to the contrary.

    The National Army, a Turkish-backed umbrella group that united Syrian rebel factions ahead of the offensive, also denied that there was any fighting or shelling in Ras al-Ayn.

    A civilian near Ras al-Ayn said the bombardment continued through the night and into Friday morning. “There have been no airstrikes so far, but neither the bombardment nor the clashes have ceased,” he said in a telephone interview, declining to give his name for security reasons. “We are among the few dozens of families that have stayed in the area, but we have our car ready and we may still leave, despite the cease-fire.”

    He said most residents had already fled, adding, “I don’t think they are going to come back.”

    “Turkey’s goal is clear: to empty the area from its inhabitants and then replace them with refugees originally from other parts of Syria,” the civilian said.

    “We cannot trust any deal that doesn’t make the so-called National Army leave the area,” he said. “How are we supposed to live with those who conspired against us and stabbed us in the back?”

    Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  2. #8867

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Francisco Velasco

    El Chapo’s son Ovidio Guzman Lopez was captured by the Mexican military. #Culiacan

    The Narcos started an all out war in the city with military until they were basically forced to release him. There are reports of innocent people being killed in the crossfire and directly by the narcos. The sicarios were using military-grade weapons in their attacks. #Culiacan

    El Chapo’s son was freed to avoid future casualties, to “protect lives” as stated by Security Minister Alfonso Durazo. #Culiacan

    Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said “We’ll talk tomorrow” when asked by the press about #Culiacan. This is LITERALLY the WORST security crisis Mexico has seen in YEARS.

    Some powerful images from the absolute chaos that was yesterday. These literally look like images out of a war zone in Afghanistan. This seems like a movie or a terrible nightmare. But unfortunately it was my Mexico.

    All in all it was a terrible loss for Mexico. It was a wake up call of the reality we live in. We gave them too much power and these are the consequences. This shouldn’t ever happen in any city around the world

    Security minister Alfonso Durazo just said in a press conference that there was “no agreement” with the narcos in this situation. There’s literally a video of the Mexican marines shaking hands with the sicarios

    Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador finally made an official statement this morning. “The arrest of a criminal can’t be worth more than the lives of the people”.

    This BROKE me. “Dad can we get up now
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  3. #8868

    Re: World News Random, Random

    I can totally see Mexico becoming a failed state.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  4. #8869
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    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Drop-shot View Post
    I can totally see Mexico becoming a failed state.
    But, but, but... They have to pay for the wall!
    Winston, a.k.a. Alvena Rae Risley Hiatt (1944-2019), RIP

  5. #8870

    Re: World News Random, Random


    Mexico: 8 dead, 20 wounded in failed raid against son of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
    Updated 5 minutes ago

    CULIACAN, Mexico -- Mexican security forces aborted an attempt to capture a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman after finding themselves outgunned in a ferocious shootout with cartel henchmen that left at least eight people dead and more than 20 wounded, authorities said Friday.

    The gunbattle Thursday paralyzed the capital of Mexico's Sinaloa state, Culiacan, and left the streets littered with burning vehicles. Residents took cover indoors as automatic gunfire raged outside.

    It was the third bloody and terrifying shootout in less than a week between security forces and cartel henchmen, raising questions about whether President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's policy of avoiding the use of force and focusing on social ills is working.

    López Obrador said he remains committed to tackling violence through peaceful means and dismissed such questions as "the point of view of our adversaries and the opposition media."

    But Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who worked undercover in Mexico, called the violence "a massive black eye to the Mexican government" and a "sign that the cartels are more powerful" than it is.

    Streets in Culiacan, a city of over 800,000, remained blocked with torched cars Friday morning, schools were closed, and some public offices asked their employees to stay home. Few buses were running.

    Teresa Mercado, who had just returned to her native Culiacan on Thursday, said: "This is worse than what I had lived through years ago."

    Authorities said 35 troops arrived at a home Thursday afternoon to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López on a 2018 extradition request from the U.S. They entered the home, where Guzman and three others were inside.

    Heavily armed men in greater force surrounded the house and also unleashed mayhem elsewhere, taking over toll booths and main roads into the city. Men carrying high-caliber weapons blocked major intersections.

    Amid the chaos, inmates at a prison rioted, seized weapons from guards and fled. Fifty-six prisoners escaped, and 49 were still at large Friday, according to Sinaloa Public Security Secretary Cristóbal Castañeda. Two guards were taken captive and later freed.

    Videos on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some in black ski masks, riding in the back of trucks and firing mounted machine guns as smoke rose above the cityscape. People ran for cover as gunfire rattled around them, and motorists drove frantically in reverse, trying to escape the bullets.

    Five attackers, a member of the National Guard, a civilian and a prisoner died in the gunbattles, Defense Secretary Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval said. He said seven members of the security forces were wounded and eight held captive before being released unharmed.

    The government's security cabinet made the decision to withdraw the troops to avoid greater loss of life.

    "The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people. They made the decision and I supported it," López Obrador said. He added: "We do not want deaths. We do not want war."

    Security cabinet officials said they were not informed about the operation beforehand. They said troops surrounded the house without a search warrant and came under fire before one could be delivered, at that point deciding to enter without the warrant. And they said the troops underestimated the cartel's response.

    Sandoval said that if the security cabinet had known about the operation, it would have gone about it differently and deployed more troops and even sent air support.

    "This group ... rushed things. It did not consider the consequences," he said.

    It was not clear what happened to Guzmán after the troops left. Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said he was never under formal detention. José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for the Guzman family, said he was told Ovidio is "alive and free."

    José Reveles, the author of several books on the Sinaloa cartel, said the operation was done clumsily from both an operational and a political standpoint.

    "If the government says it did not know anything, that's absolutely unheard of, and especially for an operation of this magnitude," Reveles said. "If you're going to do an operation of this size, you should do it right - guard all flanks, add security in the prison."

    At the same time, he allowed that "doing a surgical operation there is impossible; the strength of the Sinaloa cartel was made clear."

    Vigil, the former DEA agent, worried that the retreat could lead to more bloodshed.

    "This is going to set an example for the other groups," Vigil said. "It sends them the message that if they capture a member of the cartel, all they have to do is go in the city and intimidate the citizenry and security forces."

    The elder Guzman is serving a life sentence in the U.S. after being convicted last February of industrial-scale drug trafficking.

    Ovidio is not one of the drug lord's best-known sons. Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán are known as "Los Chapitos," or "the little Chapos," and are believed to be running their father's cartel together with Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.

    But Ovidio Guzmán was indicted in 2018 in Washington, along with a fourth brother, on charges of trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

    Gunbattles between gangs and security forces are relatively common in Mexico, but this week has seen three notable and frightening clashes. On Monday, 13 police officers were killed in a cartel ambush in the state of Michoacan, and the following day soldiers killed 14 gunmen while losing one of their own in neighboring Guerrero state.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

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