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Sabtu, 29 Februari 2020

LIVE: First US coronavirus death reported, Trump provides updates - KOCO Oklahoma City

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  1. LIVE: First US coronavirus death reported, Trump provides updates  KOCO Oklahoma City
  2. First death from coronavirus in the United States confirmed in Washington state, officials say  CNN
  3. First US death from coronavirus confirmed in Washington state  KOMO News
  4. Washington State earns sweep over Washington with 78-74 finish in Seattle  4 News Now
  5. View Full Coverage on Google News

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2020-02-29 18:38:00Z
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Someone has died of coronavirus in Washington state. More cases identified - Tacoma News Tribune

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  1. Someone has died of coronavirus in Washington state. More cases identified  Tacoma News Tribune
  2. First death from coronavirus in the United States has occurred in Washington state, officials say  CNN
  3. 1 dead from coronavirus in Washington state; first person to die from disease in US  WGN TV Chicago
  4. Health officials confirm 2 new cases of coronavirus in western Washington  KING 5
  5. Coronavirus live updates: Trump to hold press conference, first US death confirmed  CNBC
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2020-02-29 17:58:00Z
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Jim Hanson: Trump's Taliban peace deal is right move – After almost 20 years it's time to exit Afghanistan - Fox News

The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Qatar Saturday. If conditions in Afghanistan stay at their current level of decreased violence, we will begin returning most of our troops from the longest war in our history.

The deal itself has numerous conditions that the Taliban must meet including severing all ties with terrorist organizations and negotiating in good faith with the Afghan government toward a lasting agreement. The withdrawal of some U.S. troops, as well as prisoner swaps that will release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, are part of the initial confidence-building measures.

This was the right decision by President Trump from an array of not very good options. And that is what a good leader does, makes a tough but smart call when it would be easier to simply maintain the status quo.

US SIGNS HISTORIC PEACE DEAL WITH TALIBAN, POMPEO STRIKES CAUTIOUS TONE

No one, including our negotiators, expects the Taliban to be honorable in abiding by this agreement. Their nature and history have shown they will act ruthlessly in their own interests.

Nothing can be achieved without significant pressures placed on them and even more significant repercussions for malfeasance. But we have not been able to impose our will on them using military force, so we must acknowledge that and move on.

That’s the thing about war. We can make all the plans and strategies we want, but the enemy and reality get a vote too. Almost twenty years of U.S. blood and treasure had not taken us to a victory any more lasting than when we first deposed the Taliban at the end of 2001.

They ruled Afghanistan then as tyrannical theocrats and had given safe haven to Al Qaeda who planned and executed the 9/11 attacks from there.

We had to make a strong response and we did.

In a few short months, Special Forces teams partnered with indigenous militias and defeated the Taliban. But then we went wrong.

The decision to stay and try to make Afghanistan a more stable and peaceful place that also presents less potential danger to us is easy to understand. But it was fundamentally flawed and at odds with the long history of that country.

The hellish terrain and tribal nature of the country made all previous attempts to impose order on it short-lived and painful for any outsiders involved. We can now join Alexander the Great, the British Empire, the Soviet Union and a host of others in not achieving this.

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One of the main rationales for staying was that if we left we would allow another Al Qaeda to rise that could threaten us from a mountain retreat.

This is a legitimate fear as it has already happened. But we are aware of that and while keeping a seemingly permanent force there is one way to try and avoid this, there are other ways to achieve this goal.

Earlier this month in an op-ed for Fox News Opinion I wrote about a proposed one-sided withdrawal statement telling the Taliban and others what lines must not be crossed:

  • No terrorist bases in Afghanistan. 
  • No safe passage, safe haven or any other support for terrorist groups. 
  • No attacks on U.S. personnel or interests. 

I suggested the statement could also say, “We believe it would be better if you created a society that was not oppressive, brutal and often barbaric; but we are not the world’s policeman or domestic violence shelter. We will offer a hand of friendship and aid to those trying to make Afghanistan a better place. We will bring a rain of hellfire and damnation down on any who violate these demands.”

More from Opinion

I think as a backstop to the peace deal, all of these factors that I laid out in the op-ed are still applicable. There are many things we would like to see in Afghanistan, but they do not rise to the level of U.S. strategic interests.

We put considerable effort into raising the status and quality of life for women there and gains have been made. There are concerns these will be eroded and if that happens it will be a significant loss. But if that is the standard, then there are dozens of countries around the world where we could make an equal case for intervention.

We must choose our foreign entanglements wisely as George Washington noted in his farewell address:

“I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.”

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His point was that occasionally U.S. interests require alliances or actions abroad, but these should always be weighed against the tendency for them to draw us away from what truly matters to this country. Afghanistan itself does not. Terrorist safe havens there would. We should take the least entangling path to safeguard ourselves from that possibility.

This initial agreement begins the disentanglement process and that seems the best path for us. We can always return to military action if an actual rather than potential danger emerges.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM JIM HANSON

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2020-02-29 17:38:30Z
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Cory Mills: Taliban peace deal historic, not just 'optics' – Take it from someone who served in Afghanistan - Fox News

President Donald Trump has demonstrated yet again his art of negotiation as the United States, Taliban, and Afghan government execute a joint declaration to solidify a reduction of violence agreement with the Taliban.

Following a successful seven day violence-free test period, the U.S. has made a decisive move towards a negotiated peace plan in Afghanistan.

This is not only a good step towards ending America’s longest war but for the Taliban and Afghan government to work towards peace and stability within Afghanistan, too.

US SIGNS HISTORIC PEACE DEAL WITH TALIBAN, POMPEO STRIKES CAUTIOUS TONE

It also represents a triumph of the American blood and treasure spent in Afghanistan – the Taliban agreed to the same key demand that they were offered shortly after 9-11, 19 years ago: to prevent their country from being used as a base for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States or its allies.

Having spent a year in Afghanistan in various combat detachments, this agreement is a welcome development for our warfighters, door-kickers and trigger-pullers.

This joint declaration demonstrates the U.S. continued support for peace and notes that the Taliban will end their relationship with international terrorists and ensure Afghan soil cannot be used to threaten the U.S. or our allies again.

The trial one-week reduction of violence was not a ceasefire but a step forward as the U.S. worked towards a plan for a longer reduction in violence.

The U.S.’s judgment of Taliban compliance with commitments will determine the pace of our condition-based withdrawal. Should we see an increase in violence against the Afghan government or U.S. troops then this will obviously slow the delay.

We have seen the president walk away from deals where the other party changes the terms at the last minute or does not comply with the agreement.

More from Opinion

U.S. and Taliban negotiators, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the historic agreement Saturday in Qatar. This signifies that both the U.S. and Taliban have expressed a willingness and interest for peace in Afghanistan

If successful, the settlements in Afghanistan will be more stable, restoration of all services including cell phones will be included and that will ensure communication channels with the Taliban.

Additionally, the Taliban has also committed to entering an intra-Afghan negotiation with the Afghan government, other political leaders, and civil society groups that include women.

This joint declaration demonstrates a strong partnership with Afghanistan and could not have been achieved without President Trump and his administration.

Even the Afghan government describes the U.S.-Taliban agreement as a historic step towards ending the war and establishing national teams to participate in intra-Afghan talks.

Many Democrats will undoubtedly take the opportunity to attack the president, but they know that even former President Obama did not (and could not) pull this off or achieve such as monumental deal.

This agreement will also see a troop reduction to around 8,600 troops by the 2020 elections in November, which also fulfills the president’s campaign promises to end America’s longest wars and return troops home safely.

Make no mistake however, this is not optics, it’s historic!

A political settlement is the most feasible way to establish peace after 19 years of fighting and thousands of lives lost in Afghanistan. The U.S. will still support fighting against terror groups such as Haqqani and ISIS in the country if needed but that should be dealt with primarily by the Afghan National Army.

This historic deal that President Trump has achieved with his top cabinet members, Special Envoy Amb. Khalilzad and Doha’s ability to open communication channels is a historic success that will keep America safe and reduces our Afghan burden.

This is unprecedented development because never before has the U.S. signed a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Our U.S. diplomatic engagement with the Taliban comes after more than a year of continual negotiation and efforts. The president has also received support from our NATO allies, the European Union, Russia, China and partners in the region.

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Having worked in Afghanistan to support diplomatic missions across the country, I fully understand the historic significance of this agreement.

After 19 years, the Taliban have agreed to the same thing that the U.S. asked them for at the beginning of this conflict, which was to prevent any terrorist organization to use Taliban territory to attack the United States or our allies.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM CORY MILLS

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2020-02-29 17:10:24Z
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Afghanistan's Taliban, US sign peace deal - Al Jazeera English

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  1. Afghanistan's Taliban, US sign peace deal  Al Jazeera English
  2. US and Taliban sign historic agreement  CNN
  3. Afghans react to US-Taliban deal: Mixture of hope and fear  Al Jazeera English
  4. Afghanistan peace plan: Don’t assume the Taliban aren’t serious. Test them.  USA TODAY
  5. How Afghans Can Work Together to End the War  The New York Times
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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2020-02-29 16:20:41Z
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Pompeo to sign historic U.S.-Taliban peace deal - CBS This Morning

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  1. Pompeo to sign historic U.S.-Taliban peace deal  CBS This Morning
  2. US signs historic peace deal with Taliban, Pompeo strikes cautious tone  Fox News
  3. NATO Secretary General: Why we're in Afghanistan and what a peace deal could do  CNN
  4. Afghanistan peace plan: Don’t assume the Taliban aren’t serious. Test them.  USA TODAY
  5. How Afghans Can Work Together to End the War  The New York Times
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2020-02-29 14:30:53Z
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Afghanistan peace deal: US, Taliban sign peace deal in Doha - The - The Washington Post

Parwiz Reuters Afghan men celebrate in anticipation of a U.S.-Taliban agreement in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Friday.

KABUL — The United States and the Taliban signed a peace deal Saturday that calls for the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, marking a turning point in the 18-year war.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar inked the deal in an opulent hall in a five-star hotel in Dohar, Qatar. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo witnessed the signing.

The agreement lays out a path for a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning with a drawdown to 8,600 troops “within months” upon President Trump’s orders, according to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller.

The deal stipulates that the Taliban will pledge to enter into talks with the Afghan government and not to harbor terrorist groups intent on attacking the West.

In Kabul, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper attended a ceremony with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/the-signing-of-a-us-taliban-peace-deal-would-be-historicbut-might-not-end-the-war-in-afghanistan/2020/02/26/85361381-ed59-42c1-8ba4-8af1282006d3_video.html

“From the first day that Americans came, neither we wanted them to stay for centuries, nor they wanted that,” acting Afghan defense minister Asadullah Khalid said ahead of the ceremony in Kabul. Speaking to the press in remarks carried by Afghan state television, he said the departure of a “few thousand” U.S. troops would not affect security in Afghanistan.

After the deal is signed, the Afghan government must assemble a negotiating team and navigate a planned prisoner exchange.

The Taliban provided U.S. negotiators a list of 5,000 Taliban prisoners currently held in detention by the Afghan government. And the militants announced 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces in Taliban captivity would be released in exchange.

“This is a test for the Americans,” said former senior Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef. “When this step is taken properly, then we’ll go to negotiations.” Afghan government officials have said that such an exchange would only occur during inter-Afghan talks or after they are complete.

Another potential obstacle after the deal is signed is the formation of an inclusive negotiating team to represent the Afghans who are not aligned with the Taliban. The announcement of disputed election results earlier this month has left the government in Kabul deeply divided and has the potential to undermine Ghani’s mandate to form that team.

An unofficial Afghan government delegation tried to meet Taliban officials in Doha Friday, but the Taliban declined the meeting. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said “We have neither invited nor will meet the delegation,” according to Radio Mashaal.

A peace deal with the Taliban has been a critical foreign policy goal for President Trump, who campaigned on ending the war.

In a statement Friday, Trump called the deal “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.” But the president has faced fierce criticism from the Afghan government as well as from fellow Republicans at home.

Afghan officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for excluding them from talks with the Taliban. Any significant withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country is expected to place increased pressure on Afghan government forces, whose casualty rates continue to rise.

On Thursday, a group of Republican lawmakers released a letter warning that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.”

“A full-scale U.S. withdrawal” would “allow terrorist groups in Afghanistan to grow stronger and establish safe havens from which to plot attacks against us,” the letter continued.

Trump’s Friday statement said “ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future. We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country.”

U.S. and Taliban negotiators were close to signing a peace deal in September, but the effort was scuttled by Trump after an attack by the Taliban killed a U.S. soldier.

Since then, chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad sought confidence-building measures to bring both sides back to the table. In November, the Taliban released two Western hostages in exchange for the release of senior militants linked to the Taliban by the Afghan government. And over the last week both sides reduced violence nationwide.

It is unclear if the reduction in violence will hold in the coming weeks as Afghan government officials and the Taliban begin talks. The Afghan government initially demanded a cease-fire before agreeing to talks with the Taliban.

As peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban gained momentum last year, violence in Afghanistan intensified. The United Nations annual report on civilian casualties released this month said that in 2019 3,403 civilians were killed and 6,989 injured.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has documented more than 100,000 civilian casualties since the organization began its tally in 2009.

Sharif Hassan in Kabul and Sarah Dadouch and Haq Nawaz Khan in Doha, Qatar, contributed to this report.

Read more

The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war

A glimpse of peace in Afghanistan: With fighting paused, soldiers invite Taliban over for chicken

Inside the U.S. military’s historic week in Afghanistan ahead of a peace deal with the Taliban

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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2020-02-29 13:20:00Z
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U.S., Taliban set to sign peace deal, a turning point in 18-year war in Afghanistan - The Washington Post

Parwiz Reuters Afghan men celebrate in anticipation of a U.S.-Taliban agreement in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Friday.

KABUL — The United States is set to sign a peace deal Saturday with the Taliban, its adversary in Afghanistan’s 18-year war. The deal marks a turning point in a conflict marred by years of both military and diplomatic stalemate.

One provision of the agreement is the full withdrawal of American troops that is “heavily conditions based,” according to two U.S. officials who have been briefed on the deal. The officials declined to elaborate on the conditions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly.

Separate from the provision for a full withdrawal, the signing of the deal will begin an initial drawdown to 8,600 U.S. troops upon President Trump’s orders. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller said several times this week that he is prepared for such orders as he traveled across Afghanistan to visit soldiers. Current U.S. troop levels are at around 12,000 in Afghanistan.

In exchange, the deal stipulates that the Taliban will pledge to enter into talks with the Afghan government and not to harbor terrorist groups intent on attacking the West.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/the-signing-of-a-us-taliban-peace-deal-would-be-historicbut-might-not-end-the-war-in-afghanistan/2020/02/26/85361381-ed59-42c1-8ba4-8af1282006d3_video.html

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Doha, Qatar, to witness the signing. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is in Kabul for a ceremony there with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“From the first day that Americans came, neither we wanted them to stay for centuries, nor they wanted that,” acting Afghan defense minister Asadullah Khalid said ahead of the ceremony in Kabul. He said the departure of a “few thousand” U.S. troops would not affect security in Afghanistan.

Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib said the timeline for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces is 18 months, “but it is conditional on the agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. If those conditions are not met, this date [could] also obviously change.”

Both officials spoke to the press in remarks that were carried by Afghan state television.

After the deal is signed, the Afghan government must assemble a negotiating team and navigate a planned prisoner exchange.

The Taliban provided U.S. negotiators a list of 5,000 Taliban prisoners currently held in detention by the Afghan government. And the militants announced 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces in Taliban captivity would be released in exchange.

“This is a test for the Americans,” said former senior Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef. “When this step is taken properly, then we’ll go to negotiations.” Afghan government officials have said that such an exchange would only occur during inter-Afghan talks or after they are complete.

Another potential obstacle after the deal is signed is the formation of an inclusive negotiating team to represent the Afghans who are not aligned with the Taliban. The announcement of disputed election results earlier this month has left the government in Kabul deeply divided and has the potential to undermine Ghani’s mandate to form that team.

An unofficial Afghan government delegation tried to meet Taliban officials in Doha Friday, but the Taliban declined the meeting. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said “We have neither invited nor will meet the delegation,” according to Radio Mashaal.

A peace deal with the Taliban has been a critical foreign policy goal for President Trump, who campaigned on ending the war.

In a statement Friday, Trump called the deal “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.” But the president has faced fierce criticism from the Afghan government as well as from fellow Republicans at home.

Afghan officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for excluding them from talks with the Taliban. Any significant withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country is expected to place increased pressure on Afghan government forces, whose casualty rates continue to rise.

On Thursday, a group of Republican lawmakers released a letter warning that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.”

“A full-scale U.S. withdrawal” would “allow terrorist groups in Afghanistan to grow stronger and establish safe havens from which to plot attacks against us,” the letter continued.

Trump’s Friday statement said “ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future. We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country.”

U.S. and Taliban negotiators were close to signing a peace deal in September, but the effort was scuttled by Trump after an attack by the Taliban killed a U.S. soldier.

Since then, chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad sought confidence-building measures to bring both sides back to the table. In November, the Taliban released two Western hostages in exchange for the release of senior militants linked to the Taliban by the Afghan government. And over the last week both sides reduced violence nationwide.

It is unclear if the reduction in violence will hold in the coming weeks as Afghan government officials and the Taliban begin talks. The Afghan government initially demanded a cease-fire before agreeing to talks with the Taliban.

As peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban gained momentum last year, violence in Afghanistan intensified. The United Nations annual report on civilian casualties released this month said that in 2019 3,403 civilians were killed and 6,989 injured.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has documented more than 100,000 civilian casualties since the organization began its tally in 2009.

Sharif Hassan in Kabul and Sarah Dadouch and Haq Nawaz Khan in Doha, Qatar, contributed to this report.

Read more

The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war

A glimpse of peace in Afghanistan: With fighting paused, soldiers invite Taliban over for chicken

Inside the U.S. military’s historic week in Afghanistan ahead of a peace deal with the Taliban

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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2020-02-29 12:43:00Z
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Syria war: Turkey says thousands of migrants have crossed to EU - BBC News

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says 18,000 migrants have crossed Turkish borders into Europe after the country "opened the doors" for them to travel.

The number is expected to hit 25,000 to 30,000 in the coming days, he said.

Turkey could no longer deal with the amount of people fleeing Syria's civil war, he added.

Greece says it has blocked thousands of migrants from entering "illegally" from Turkey.

Greek authorities fired tear gas to attempt to disperse the crowds.

Turkey's decision followed a deadly attack on Turkish troops by Syrian government forces in northern Syria this week.

At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in a bombardment in Idlib, the last Syrian province where Syrian rebel groups hold significant territory.

Syrian government forces, supported by Russia, have been trying to retake Idlib from jihadist groups and Turkish-backed rebel factions.

Turkey is hosting 3.7 million Syrian refugees, as well as migrants from other countries such as Afghanistan - but had previously stopped them from leaving for Europe under an aid-linked deal with the EU.

But Mr Erdogan accused the EU of breaking promises.

"We said months ago that if it goes on like this, we will have to open the doors. They did not believe us, but we opened the doors yesterday," President Erdogan said in Istanbul on Saturday.

He said that some 18,000 refugees had "pressed on the gates and crossed" into Europe by Saturday morning. He did not provide evidence of these numbers.

"We will not close these doors in the coming period and this will continue. Why? The European Union needs to keep its promises. We don't have to take care of this many refugees, to feed them," he said.

Brussels had not given full financial aid agreed in the 2018 Turkey-EU refugee deal, he said.

Greece said it had averted more than 4,000 attempts to cross into the country. There were further clashes between migrants and Greek police on Saturday.

"The government will do whatever it takes to protect its borders," government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

The Turkish president also said that he had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin - a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - to stand aside and let Turkey "do what is necessary" with the Syrian government by itself.

Russia and Turkey are backing opposing sides in the civil war. Turkey is opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad and supports some rebel groups.

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2020-02-29 12:07:24Z
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Coronavirus Travel Advisories: Map Shows CDC's Areas Of Concern : Goats and Soda - NPR

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly issues "Travel Health Notices" that address disease outbreaks and other health-related matters in international destinations. The newly discovered coronavirus is now a topic of concern.

The point of the warnings is to indicate countries where the CDC believes there is a risk of infection with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

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There are three levels of notices based on the risk presented by the outbreak and what precautions are needed to prevent infection.

China and South Korea are in the highest notice level — "Warning Level 3." CDC advises travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to these countries. As part of the warnings, which were issued in late February, the CDC also cites limited access for visitors to adequate medical care. If travel is necessary, CDC advises travelers to discuss with their health-care provider.

Hong Kong, Macau and the island of Taiwan are excluded from this notice.

The only other country with a Warning Level 3 notice is Venezuela; CDC cites "outbreaks of infectious diseases" as well as the breakdown of the country's health-care infrastructure.

During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, this warning level was issued to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The second notice level, "Alert Level 2," suggesting that potential travelers "practice enhanced precautions," has been issued for travel to Iran, Italy and Japan, three countries experiencing person-to-person and community spread of COVID-19. This notice, according to CDC, is directed at older adults and those with "chronic medical conditions," who are at greater risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 if infected. CDC advises them to consider postponing nonessential travel to these countries.

The third notice level is "Watch Level 1." At this level, the CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel but advises potential travelers to practice general precautions such as avoiding contact with sick people and washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% to 95% alcohol.

The CDC also currently has other travel health notices unrelated to COVID-19. For example, it has issued the Level 2 Alert for several countries in Africa and Asia because of polio and a Watch Level 1 for some parts of Central and South America for dengue.

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Many countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 do not currently have travel advisories from the CDC. Dr. Lin Chen, president of the International Society of Travel Medicine, said when deciding to go to these countries, travelers should look into the country's health-care system and make sure they have travel medical insurance that will provide coverage in their destination.

"I think it's important to identify what a traveler would do if they become sick," Chen said. "Having travel medical insurance is actually really important and gives you, perhaps, a peace of mind if you're going into a country that has some [confirmed] cases."

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2020-02-29 10:00:00Z
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Turkey's Erdogan asks Russia's Putin to step aside in Syria - Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to step aside in Syria and leave Turkey to deal with Syrian government forces alone, after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed this week.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, February 5, 2020. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Government forces, backed by Russian air power, have waged a major assault to capture the northwest province of Idlib, the last remaining territory held by rebels backed by Turkey.

With diplomacy sponsored by Ankara and Moscow to ease tensions in tatters, Turkey has come closer than ever to confrontation with Russia on the battlefield.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “to do what is necessary” with the Syrian government alone.

He said Turkey does not intend to leave Syria right now.

“We did not go there because we were invited by (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad). We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria. We don’t intend to leave before the people of Syria, ‘okay, this is done,” Erdogan added.

As tensions rose, Russia and Turkey have held three rounds of talks, the first two of which did not yield a ceasefire.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the two sides agreed in this week’s talks to reduce tensions on the ground in Idlib while continuing military action there.

After the death of its soldiers in a Syrian government air strike on Thursday, Turkey said it would allow migrants it hosts to freely pass to Europe.

Erdogan said in Istanbul on Saturday that 18,000 migrants has crossed the border, without immediately providing evidence, adding that the number could rise to 25,000-30,000 on Saturday.

“We will not close these doors in the coming period and this will continue. Why? The European Union needs to keep its promises. We don’t have to take care of this many refugees, to feed them,” he said.

He complained the funds transferred to Turkey from the European Union to support refugees were arriving too slowly and that he had asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to send the funds directly to the Turkish government.

Turkey’s borders to Europe were closed to migrants under an accord between Turkey and the European Union that halted the 2015-16 migration crisis when more than a million people crossed into Europe by foot.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Alexander Smith and Louise Heavens

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2020-02-29 10:00:00Z
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U.S. Expected to Sign Deal With Taliban to Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan - The New York Times

DOHA, Qatar — The United States is expected to sign a peace deal with the Taliban insurgency on Saturday that for the first time after two decades of grinding warfare would lay out the prospect of a final withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

The signing in Doha, Qatar, is seen as a vital step toward negotiating a more sweeping peace deal that could end the insurgency altogether, after years of unrelenting violence that took the lives of more than 3,500 Americans and coalition troops and tens of thousands of Afghans since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

But the agreement is dependent on the Taliban’s fulfillment of major commitments that have been obstacles for years, including breaking with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. And it hinges on far more difficult negotiations between the two Afghan sides to come, addressing the shape of a potential power-sharing government and a lasting cease-fire — both anathema to the Taliban in the past.

The Trump administration has cast the deal as its pledge to a war-weary American public, for whom the Afghanistan war has defined a generation of loss and trauma and roughly $2 trillion in expenditures but has yielded no victory.

“If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan live up to these commitments, we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home,” President Trump said on Friday ahead of the signing of the deal, which he dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to attend.

“These commitments represent an important step to a lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from Al Qaeda, ISIS, and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm.”

At the height of the war, there were more than 100,000 American troops in the country, and tens of thousands of others from about 40 nations in the United States-led NATO coalition.

In recent years, it has been Afghan soldiers and police who have borne the brunt of the fighting, at a horrific cost in casualties and trauma.

From the start of the talks, late in 2018, Afghan officials were troubled that they were not at the table with American and Taliban officials. They worried that Mr. Trump would abruptly withdraw troops from Afghanistan without securing any of the conditions they saw as crucial, including a reduction in violence and a Taliban promise to negotiate in good faith with the government.

The best-case prospect laid out by the deal expected to be signed on Saturday is alluring: ultimately, the possibility for Afghans of an end to conflict that in one form or other has stretched for 40 years.

But behind that hope lies a web of contradictions.

The United States, which struggled to help secure better rights for women and minorities and instill a democratic system and institutions in Afghanistan, is reaching a deal with an insurgency that has never renounced its desire for a government and justice system rooted in a harsh interpretation of Islam. Though the Taliban would get their primary wish granted by this agreement, the withdrawal of American troops, they have made no firm commitments to protect civil rights for people they brutally repressed when in power.

Among the Taliban, bringing the world’s premier military power to the point of withdrawal has widely been seen as a victory with few caveats. And the public messaging from Taliban officials has not been conciliatory.

“This is the hotel that tomorrow will turn into a historic hotel,” the Taliban’s multimedia chief posted on Twitter on Friday with a photograph of the Sheraton in Doha, site of the signing. “From here, the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban will be announced.”

The expected deal provides a conditional schedule for the withdrawal of the 12,000 remaining American troops. In the first phase, about 5,000 are to leave in a matter of months. The withdrawal of the rest is expected to happen over the next 14 months, depending on the Taliban keeping their end of the bargain.

The insurgents had to pledge to break with international terrorist networks and forbid Afghanistan’s use as a base for attacks by groups like Al Qaeda, which launched the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States from the haven the Taliban granted it in Afghanistan.

As part of the deal, the Taliban would also agree to open talks directly with the Afghan government and other leaders, ostensibly to negotiate a political settlement and an eventual cease-fire. But an immediate cease-fire to address the bloodshed that regularly rips through Afghanistan is not part of the agreement.

While American diplomats had pushed for a cease-fire, they settled for a “reduction in violence” and tested it over a stretch of seven days before the signing. Officials said attacks had dropped by as much as 80 percent during that period, and the hope was that the reduction could continue in the next phase, until the two Afghan sides could agree to a more comprehensive cease-fire.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran diplomat leading the American peace efforts and himself a native of Afghanistan, long insisted that the United States was not simply seeking a withdrawal agreement, but “a peace agreement that enables withdrawal.”

The Taliban’s willingness to enter negotiations with other Afghans, including the government, over a political settlement has offered hope and fear to the Afghan people.

The hope is that a durable peace can be reached after generations of conflict and suffering. The fear is that the most difficult work lies ahead, and that the Taliban will come to the negotiations emboldened by the American withdrawal announcement after years of insurgent gains on the battlefield against the badly bloodied Afghan security forces.

The nearly two decades of war have been devastating, both in human and economic terms, though exact numbers are in many cases hard to come by.

Much of the peace negotiations happened in a year of record violence from both sides. In just the last quarter of 2019, the Taliban carried out 8,204 attacks, the highest in same period over the past decade. The United States dropped 7,423 bombs and missiles during the year, a record since the Air Force began recording the data in 2006.

In the past five years, about 50,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed, and tens of thousands of others wounded. The Taliban’s losses are harder to verify, but their casualty rate is believed to be comparable. Out of about 3,550 NATO coalition deaths in Afghanistan, nearly 2,400 have been Americans.

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul.

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2020-02-29 08:00:00Z
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Jumat, 28 Februari 2020

NATO Meets After Turkey Says Russian-Backed Force Killed 33 Troops In Syria - NPR

Syrians in the northwestern city of Idlib perform funerary prayers for Turkish soldiers Friday. Turkey sought an urgent NATO meeting after at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib province Thursday. Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP via Getty Images

NATO is condemning "indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, after 33 Turkish soldiers died in an attack near Idlib on Thursday. The bombing caused Turkey to request an urgent NATO security meeting that was held Friday.

The NATO meeting was held in solidarity with Turkey, which says the troops were killed in an area where Russian-backed Syrian forces are fighting anti-regime militants. Russia denies playing a role in the strike, which came after weeks of heightened violence in Idlib province.

"I call on them to stop their offensive, to respect international law and to back U.N. efforts for a peaceful solution," Stoltenberg said. "This dangerous situation must be de-escalated."

Stoltenberg did not lay out any changes NATO might make to its current security arrangement in the area. But Turkey says its military struck 200 Syrian regime targets Friday in retaliation for the strikes.

"This attack occurred even though the locations of our troops had been coordinated with Russian officials in the field," said Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

Listing the damage of the retaliatory attacks, Akar said, "Turkish forces destroyed five Syrian regime choppers, 23 tanks, 10 armored vehicles, 23 howitzers, five ammunition trucks, a SA-17, a SA-22 air defense system as well as three ammunition depots, two equipment depots, a headquarter and 309 regime troops."

Turkey requested the NATO meeting under Article 4 of the organization's founding treaty. The provision allows any ally to "request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened."

Russia's Defense Ministry says its military did not conduct any airstrikes in the area where the Turkish soldiers were killed, NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow.

On Thursday, Russia's foreign ministry acknowledged that the country's air force is supporting the Syrian army's "Dawn over Idlib" operation. But the agency also said the offensive "focuses exclusively on the terrorists who are holed up in the deescalation zone."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Friday, in a conversation that the Kremlin says included a "substantive exchange of views" on Syria and an agreement to improve coordination between Russia's and Turkey's defense ministries.

"The two leaders have a thorny relationship," Kim reports from Moscow. "Putin has sold Erdogan an advanced air defense system and last month opened a natural-gas pipeline from Russia. But in 2015, Russia nearly went to war after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane."

In Friday's phone call, Putin and Erdogan agreed to look at the possibility of "soon holding a meeting at the highest level," the Kremlin says.

Stoltenberg said Turkey's NATO allies are "constantly looking" for ways to support Turkey, as a bloody and destabilizing civil war plays out in neighboring Syria. He added that the group will continue to augment Turkey's air defense, to prevent missile attacks from Syria.

"There's a Patriot missile battery in southern Turkey and AWACS flights keeping an eye from above," Teri Schultz reports for NPR's Newscast. "Turkey has reportedly asked the U.S. directly to share more missile-defense capabilities."

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2020-02-28 15:36:00Z
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Syria war: Alarm after 33 Turkish soldiers killed in attack in Idlib - BBC News - BBC News

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  1. Syria war: Alarm after 33 Turkish soldiers killed in attack in Idlib - BBC News  BBC News
  2. Airstrike Hits Turkish Forces in Syria, Raising Fears of Escalation  The New York Times
  3. Syria: Why is the world indifferent to Idlib?  Al Jazeera English
  4. Erdogan Is Holding a Gun to His Own Head in Syria  Bloomberg
  5. Syria war: Alarm after 33 Turkish soldiers killed in attack in Idlib  BBC News
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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2020-02-28 15:19:56Z
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Live updates: Coronavirus pummels financial markets; Japanese island declares state of emergency - The Washington Post

BEIJING — In China, parents and students alike are beginning to wonder: When will schools reopen?

The subject of the reopening of schools, shut across the country for weeks already due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, trended on social media on Friday after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged universities, schools, and kindergartens to further postpone the spring semester in a bid to prevent infections among children.

“In principle, universities, schools, and kindergartens should continue to postpone campus reopening,” the premier said at a Thursday meeting in Beijing, adding that a strengthened protection of children and elderly people is in line with Communist Party central instructions to introduce more targeted epidemic-control measures.

Asked whether college entrance exams would be delayed, China’s Vice Minister of Education Weng Tiehui said at a Friday briefing that they are “keeping close watch on students’ and parents’ concerns” and would announce relevant work arrangements after “careful and cautious research.”

More than 10 million students are expected to sit this year’s college entrance exams, which usually fall on June 7-8.

Few local governments in China have set concrete timeframes for resuming regular classes. Guizhou, a province in China’s mountainous southwest, announced on Thursday that Grade 9 and Grade 12 students will be allowed to return March 16 to revise for graduation exams or college-entrance exams. A more general school reopening would be announced later after further “scientific evaluation,” it said.

Most provinces have encouraged online learning for students, focused on revision and non-academic subjects — music, fine arts, indoor exercises, education on epidemic control and personal hygiene — out of concerns of poor remote education quality and inequality for kids with no tech help and adult supervision.

On social media, some parents worried about the strain home-schooling would put on families. “It’s a headache for working-class parents because we cannot handle work and children at the same time," one mother wrote on Weibo. "Kids will be left home by their own. So work resumption should be delayed like school openings.”

Some students weren’t happy either. “Personally I don’t care about school that much, but online learning is just killing me: so much homework and so much reading to do!" a college student wrote. "It is worse than going to school.”

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2020-02-28 15:23:00Z
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Turkey-Syria tensions escalate after troops killed: Live updates - Al Jazeera English

Dozens of Turkish troops have been killed in Syrian government air raids, marking a dramatic escalation in the conflict between Ankara and Moscow-backed forces in northwestern Syria.

The 33 deaths followed an attack in Idlib late on Thursday and comes as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, are attempting to seize the last remaining territory held by Syrian opposition forces who are backed by Turkey.

More:

The toll is the deadliest suffered by the Turkish army since it intervened in Syria in 2016 and is raising fears of a direct confrontation between Turkey and Russia on the battlefield. 

Here's all the latest updates: 

Friday, February 28 

13:30 GMT - Bulgaria to send 1,000 troops to Turkey border

Bulgaria is ready to deploy 1,000 soldiers to its border with Turkey to prevent the entry of migrants into its territory, according to the country's defence minister Krasimir Karakachanov.

This comes after Turkey's foreign ministry warned migrants and asylum seekers in the country are moving towards Europe because of the situation in Idlib.

Karakachanov, in a Facebook post, says the Bulgarian army "will take all necessary measures to protect" its borders.

Greece is also boosting patrols on its border with Turkey. 

13:00 GMT - Putin, Erdogan 'voice concern' over Idlib 

A statement from the Kremlin says the Russian and Turkish presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voiced "concern about the escalation of tension in Idlib" following the deaths of Turkish soldiers. 

The statement provides additional details of the phone call between the two leaders earlier today. 

The conversation took place on Turkey's initiative, the Kremlin says, adding: "Both sides reaffirmed that it was necessary to adopt additional measures in order to normalise the situation in northwestern Syria."

12:20 GMT -  White Helmet rescuer describes 'disastrous situation in Idlib'

Abdulla Hussein, a rescue worker with the Syrian White Helmets, says Syrian government air raids on Idlib's second largest city - Maaret al-Numan - are so severe his colleagues and medical relief groups are not able to access the area. 

"The situation is Idlib is disastrous in every meaning of the word. The people there are running out of options. The Syrian government shelling, backed by Russian warplanes, has targeted even the main roads that the civilians are using to flee different towns and villages," he tells Al Jazeera in Reyhanli, southern Turkey. 

"The last two days,  with the advancement of Syrian forces towards Mount Zawiya area [highland area that includes Maaret al-Numan], civilians there have left their villages and towns. Our teams and medical relief groups can't even access the area due to the severity of the aerial bombardment there."

12:00 GMT - NATO calls on Russia, Syria to 'stop indiscriminate attacks'

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary-general, is calling on Russia and Syria to stop the offensive in Idlib and to "fully engage in UN-led efforts for a peaceful political solution" to the conflict. . 

"We call on Russia and the Syria regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks ... we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect the international law," Stoltenberg tells reporters in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

"This dangerous situation must be de-escalated."

11:30 GMT - Erdogan, Putin discuss Idlib in telephone call

The Turkish and Russian presidents discussed the situation in Idlib in a phone call, Interfax news agency says, quoting the Russian foreign minister. 

"The conversation was detailed and focused on the need to fulfill the original agreements pertaining to the Idlib de-escalation area," says Sergei Lavrov, adding that the two leaders are also looking into the possibility of a meeting in the near future. 

33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syrian air raid in Idlib (5:31)

11:00 GMT - EU warns of 'major international' conflict in Syria

Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign policy chief, called for an urgent end to the escalation in northwestern Syria, warning the tensions could slide into a "major open international military confrontation".

"It is also causing unbearable humanitarian suffering and putting civilians in danger," he says in a Twitter post. "EU calls on all sides dor rapid de-escalation and  regrets all loss of life."   


Hello, and welcome to Al Jazeera's live coverage of the mounting tensions between Turkey and Syria in northwestern Idlib. I'm Zaheena Rasheed and I'm covering the latest developments from Doha, Qatar, and my colleague Linah Alsaafin is in Reyhanli, southern Turkey. 

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2020-02-28 13:05:00Z
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Chinese ship fired laser at American P-8A Poseidon aircraft, Navy says - CBS News

A Chinese Navy ship fired a laser at a U.S. surveillance aircraft flying over the Philippine Sea west of Guam, the Navy said Thursday. Officials acknowledged the incident more than a week after it happened.

The Navy said the People's Republic of China naval destroyer lased the American P-8A Poseidon aircraft in an act the U.S. deemed unsafe and a violation of international codes and agreements. The statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet said the laser was detected by sensors on the aircraft, but was not visible to the naked eye.

"Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems," the Navy said. The incident took place about 380 miles west of Guam.

Trending News ›

The Poseidon crew is deployed to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron conducts routine operations, maritime patrol, and reconnaissance in the Pacific Fleet area.

U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon Flies by USS Preble
A P-8A Poseidon assigned to the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 performs a fly-by next to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) on Feb. 4, 2019. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel/Released

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2020-02-28 11:31:00Z
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Turkey Vows to Resist Attacks Against Its Forces in Syria - The New York Times

ISTANBUL — Turkey vowed on Friday to resist further aggression against its troops in northwestern Syria, a day after Russian or Syrian air and artillery strikes killed 33 Turkish soldiers, bringing Russia and Turkey close to open conflict.

NATO ambassadors met on Friday in an emergency session called by Turkey, a member state. European officials called for calm, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin spoke to each other in an effort to calm tensions. According to the Russian side, they agreed to hold a summit meeting in the near future.

But emotions were still running high in Turkey on Friday. “We will not leave the blood of our brave soldiers on the ground,” Fahrettin Altun, the director of communications in the Turkish presidency, wrote in a thread of comments posted on Twitter. “The international community must act to protect civilians and impose a no-fly zone.”

Russia denied any role in the attacks, saying on Friday that none of its jets were operating in the area when they occurred. “Aircraft of the Russian Air Force did not engage in combat in the Behun vicinity,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Turkey has blamed the strikes on the Syrian government. But it has also indirectly blamed Russia, saying it knew of the presence of Turkish troops and did nothing to stop the attack even after being alerted. Russia has been conducting a ferocious campaign of aerial bombardment in the province of Idlib in support of the Syrian offensive to seize control of the last rebel-held region.

Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said the attack was carried out even though the Turkish troops had coordinated their location with Russian forces on the ground. He added that there were no other armed groups near the Turkish units at the time of the attack, as Russian officials have suggested.

“Following the first strike, although another warning was made, the attack continued; during those airstrikes even ambulances were hit,” he said in comments to the Anadolu news agency in the Turkish border city of Hatay.

Turkish planes, artillery and drones had retaliated after the attack, pounding the Syrian government positions responsible, he said. “Our operations will continue until the bloody hands laid on our soldiers are broken,” he said.

Moscow also denied that Turkey had shared coordinates of its troops with Russian forces, saying they tried to stop the attacks as soon as they were told about them.

While there was no way to resolve the conflicting accounts, Russia is known to practice hybrid warfare, of which lies and deception are an integral part. In Crimea, for instance, it took nearly a year before Mr. Putin admitted that the “green men” who invaded the territory were in fact Russian soldiers without insignia.

Reports from the scene described a Russian jet striking a Turkish convoy and then artillery strikes pounding Turkish troops in several buildings. The prolonged strikes prevented rescuers from reaching the wounded, Ahmed Rehal, a Syrian journalist, reported.

Turkey was not able to evacuate the casualties by air, because Russia controls the airspace in northwestern Syria. As a result, rescue workers and civilians were forced to transport the dead and wounded to the Turkish border in trucks.

Mr. Altun called on Russia and Iran to abide by the agreement reached in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, two years ago for de-escalation in the region, and he repeated an appeal from Turkish officials for NATO to honor its responsibilities toward a fellow member.

“We have been targeting all regime positions from the ground and the air,” he posted on Twitter. “We call on the parties of the Astana Process and the broader international community to honor their responsibilities. A repeat of past genocides such as those in Rwanda and Bosnia cannot be allowed in Idlib.”

Turkish officials have warned that if the pressure in Idlib is not resolved, Turkey will not be able to stem a tide of Syrian refugees forging across borders into Europe. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said that the alliance would meet under Article 4 of its treaty, which allows any member to request talks when it believes its “territorial integrity, political independence or security” is threatened.

The talks do not commit the 29-nation alliance to any particular action or response. The article is different from Article 5, which is about mutual self-defense and refers to an attack on the territory of any member. The attack in question did not take place on Turkish soil.

The Russian Defense Ministry rejected Turkey’s assertion that it had alerted Russian forces before the strikes. “Immediately after obtaining information about injured Turkish servicemen, the Russian side took comprehensive measures to completely stop shelling by the Syrian military,” the statement said.

Sergei V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said at a news briefing following talks with Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg on Friday that Russia’s presence in Syria was justified. “We insist that there should be no compromises with terrorists, who have been rearing their head after the so-called Arab Spring broke out in 2011,” he said.

The European Union’s top diplomat warned that the situation in Idlib could slide into an international confrontation.

“Ongoing escalation around needs to stop urgently,” said the E.U. high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, on Twitter. “There is a risk of sliding into a major open international military confrontation.”

He added that the bloc would “consider all necessary measures to protect its security interests. We are in touch with all relevant actors.”

Russia said earlier on Friday it was sending two warships armed with cruise missiles to waters off the Syrian coast.

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Brussels, and Oleg Matsnev from Moscow.

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2020-02-28 11:27:00Z
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US says Chinese warship fired military laser at US aircraft - CNN

The People's Republic of China "navy destroyer's actions were unsafe and unprofessional," US Pacific Fleet said in a statement Thursday.
"Weapons-grade lasers could potentially cause serious harm to aircrew and mariners, as well as ship and aircraft systems," the statement added.
Military-grade laser beams, occasionally known as "dazzlers," omit a powerful beam of light that can travel great distances and be used to illuminate aircraft cockpits, temporarily blinding pilots.
Defense officials told CNN that a formal diplomatic protests known as a démarche is expected to be issued.
The incident comes amid ongoing tensions between the US and Chinese militaries.
The Pentagon has repeatedly said that China represents an increasingly serious threat to regional security, saying that major Chinese investments in its military are aimed at achieving regional dominance.
"Over time, we have watched them seize and militarize islands in the South China Sea, and rapidly modernize their armed forces, while seeking to use emerging technologies to alter the landscape of power and reshape the world in their favor ... and often at the expense of others," US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier this month.
Chinese lasers injure US military pilots in Africa, Pentagon says
The US has similarly issued such diplomatic protests in the past due to what the US said was Chinese military forces using lasers against US aircraft.
One such incident took place in the East African nation of Djibouti where both the US and China maintain military bases. US officials in 2018 accused Chinese forces stationed in Djibouti of injuring US pilots with a laser that was fired at a US C-130J aircraft.

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2020-02-28 09:55:00Z
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