Turkish tank units have entered Syria as part of a military operation backed by Turkish and US-led coalition warplanes to clear the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group from the Syrian border town of Jarablus, according to Turkish state media.
Turkish special forces had crossed the border and entered Jarablus early on Wednesday, officials said.
“The operation, which began at around 4am local time (01:00 GMT), is aimed at clearing the Turkish borders of terrorist groups, helping to enhance border security and supporting the territorial integrity of Syria,” Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish officials as saying.
Turkish media said the operation involved artillery and rocket shelling as well as warplanes, before the ground forces, including heavy armoured vehicles, entered Syria towards noon.
So far, Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters backed by Turkey have captured four villages and total of 46 ISIL fighters have been killed in the operation, Dogan news agency said on Wednesday.
Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that Turkish tanks in Syrian territories blocked ISIL’s support routes and Turkish fighter jets along with coalition jets pounded ISIL vehicles headed from the al-Bab region to support ISIL fighters in the Jarablus area.
Meanwhile some 5,000 FSA fighters, including groups from the Sultan Murat Brigade, Sukur al-Jeber, Sham Front and Feylek al-Sham, were reportedly advancing toward central Jarablus.
PYD and ISIL targeted
The operation is targeting ISIL and Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to end attacks on Turkey’s border, President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in the capital Ankara on Wednesday.
“At 4:00 this morning, operations started in the north of Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country, like Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL] and the PYD [the Syrian Kurdish group],” he said in a speech in Ankara.
Turkey had pledged on Monday to “completely cleanse” ISIL fighters from its border region after a suicide bomber suspected of links to the group killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Turkey is also concerned about the growing influence of Syrian Kurdish groups along its border, where they have captured large expanses of territory since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.
Turkey sees them as tied to the PKK, which has been waging an armed campaign mainly in the country’s southeast.
“It is hard to conduct this operation without the green light from Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Washington,” Metin Gurcan, security analyst, told Al Jazeera from Istanbul.
“The open objective in this operation is that Turkey is trying to create an ISIL-free humanitarian zone by clearing Jarablus for possible flow of refugees,” he said.
“The covert objective is another one. The PYD’s recent advances alarmed Ankara. Turkey aims to deny the PYD’s objective of connecting cantons it controls and creating monolithic Kurdish entity.”
The military operation against ISIL comes as Syrian rebels, backed by Turkey, also say they are in the final stages of preparing an assault from Turkish territory on Jarablus, aiming to pre-empt a potential attempt by Syrian Kurdish forces of PYD to take it.
The PYD, a critical part of the US-backed campaign against ISIL, took near-complete control of Hasaka city on Tuesday.
The group already controls chunks of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established de facto autonomy since the start of the Syria war – a development that has alarmed Turkey.
Turkey’s army and international coalition forces on Wednesday started an operation to drive Islamic State jihadists out of a key Syrian border town, a statement from the Turkish prime minister’s office said.
“The Turkish Armed Forces and the International Coalition Air Forces have launched a military operation aimed at clearing the district of Jarablus of the province of Aleppo from the terrorist organisation Daesh,” it added, using an Arabic acronym for IS group.
The state-run news agency Anadolu said the operation began at around 4 am local time (0100 GMT).
Turkish F-16 jets dropped bombs on IS targets in Jarablus — the first such assault since a November crisis with Russia sparked by the downing of one of Moscow’s warplanes by the Turkish air force, the private NTV television reported.
Security sources quoted by Turkish television said a small contingent of special forces travelled a few kilometres into Syria to secure the area before a possible operation.
Broadcaster CNN-Turk reported that Turkish artillery hit 63 targets in Syria.
Several mortar rounds from IS-held Jarablus hit the Turkish border town of Karkamis on Tuesday, prompting the army to pound the jihadist positions on Syrian soil with artillery strikes.
Official Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/216865
Today we need to pray for our country for protection over these 37 cities which are planned to have the protests. This is a huge amount of protests just in America but more cities which have not been mention could break out in protest too. If protests go out of control, which seems to be the common thing now, this day could very well trigger martial law on our country! The group known as Black Panthers is calling for firearms to be carried in places where legal during the protests as well. I am one who supports the 2nd amendment 100% but I feel this “call to action” is not a good mix; just a gut feeling. With all honesty, I do pray nothing comes out and these protests are peaceful. Still, we must understand that what ever happens today, bible prophecy must be fulfilled and no one will be able to change that.
I am asking for us all to bind to together and pray for protection over America. Even more, we need to make sure our lives align with the word of God and meet His approval. Jesus Christ is the way and the truth!
Below is the information on Rage Day.
Cities Planned for Protest:
- Phoenix: 5:00PM (EASTLAKE PARK, 1549 E Jefferson St , Phoenix, AZ 85034)
- Tuscon: 5:00PM (CATALINA PARK, 900 N 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705)
- Little Rock: 6:00PM (OUTSIDE STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Dr Martin Luther King Jr Dr., Little Rock, AR 72201)
- San Francisco: 4:00PM (CIVIC CENTER PLAZA, 355 Mcallister St, San Francisco, California 94102)
- Oakland: 4:00PM (FRANK OGAWA PLAZA, 1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612)
- Los Angeles: 4:00PM (LEIMERT PLAZA PARK, 4395 Leimert Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008)
- Denver: 5:00PM (CIVIC CENTER PARK, 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, Colorado 80204)
- Washington DC: 7:00PM (OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500)
- Atlanta: 7:00PM (OLD DECATUR COURTHOUSE, 101 E Court Sq, Decatur, GA 30030)
- Tampa: 7:00PM (OUTSIDE HILLSBOROUGH COURTHOUSE, 800 E Twiggs St, Tampa, FL)
- Orlando: 7:00PM (LAKE EOLA PARK, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801)
- Miami: 7:00PM (GWEN CHERRY PARK, NW 71 St., Miami, Florida, 33147)
- Chicago: 6:00PM (RICHARD J DALEY CENTER, 50 W Washington St, Chicago, Illinois 60602)
- Des Moines: 6:00PM (IOWA STATE CAPITOL, 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319)
- New Orleans: 6:00PM (LAFAYETTE SQUARE, New Orleans, LA 70130)
- Baltimore: 7:00PM (201 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202)
- Boston: 7:00PM (MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 01233)
- Detroit: 7:00PM (Campus Martius Park, Detroit, Michigan 48226)
- Lansing: 7:00PM (STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Capitol Avenue at Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933)
- Ann Arbor: 7:00PM (THE DIAG, Burns Park, Ann Arbor, MI 48109)
- Minneapolis: 6:00PM (MINNEAPOLIS URBAN LEAGUE, 2100 Plymouth Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411
- St. Louis: 6:00PM (GATEWAY ARCH, St. Louis 63102)
- Carson City: 4:00PM (NEVADA STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, 101 N Carson St, Carson City, Nevada 89701)
- Manhattan, NY: 7:00PM (TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan, NY, 10036)
- Newark: 7:00PM (NEWARK CITY HALL, 920 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey 07102)
- Durham: 7:00PM (200 E. Main St. Durham, North Carolina)
- Columbus: 7:00PM (GOODALE PARK, Columbus, Ohio 43215)
- Cleveland: 7:00PM (CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY, 325 Superior Ave E, Cleveland, Ohio 44114)
- Portland: 4:00PM (PIONEER COURTHOUSE SQUARE, 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97204)
- Philadelphia: 7:00PM (LOVE PARK, 1599 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102)
- Pittsburgh: 7:00PM (PITTSBURGH CITY-COUNTY BUILDING, 414 Grant St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219)
- Nashville: 6:00PM (801 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203 Estes Kefauver Federal Building)
- Memphis: 6:00PM (Health Sciences Park Memphis, TN)
- Austin: 6:00PM (TEXAS STATE CAPITOL, Outside South Gate-11th and Congress Ave.)
- Salt Lake City: 5:00PM (SALT LAKE CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 4600 S Redwood Rd, Salt Lake City, Utah 84123)
- Seattle: 4:00PM (QUEEN ANNE BAPTIST CHURCH, 2011 1st Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98109)
- Milwaukee: 5:00PM (DINEEN PARK, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
No claim of responsibility yet for deadly attack in capital as jets strike Kurdish group’s bases in Qandil mountains
Turkey’s air force has hit Kurdish targets in northern Iraq after a car bombing struck the Turkish capital, Ankara, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 70 others.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said nine F-16s and two F-4 jets on Monday raided 18 positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including the Qandil mountains where the group’s leadership is based.
The targets struck consisted of ammunition depots, bunkers and shelters.
Police also carried out raids in the southern city of Adana, detaining suspected PKK members, Anadolu reported.
The private Dogan news agency said at least 36 suspects were taken into custody.
Fifteen suspected Kurdish fighters were also detained in Istanbul, Anadolu said.
Security officials told Reuters news agency on Monday that a female member of PKK was one of two suspeced perpetrators.
A police source said her severed hand had been found 300 metres from the blast site.
The second suspected bomber was a male Turkish citizen with links to PKK, Reuters cited a Turkish security official as saying.
There has not been any claim of responsibility for the bombing.
Sunday’s attack was the second devastating blast to rock Ankara in three weeks.
Witnesses said the blast set vehicles on fire and heavily damaged several buses.
The explosion, which could be heard several miles away, also sent burning debris showering down over an area a few hundred metres from the justice and interior ministries, a top courthouse, and the former office of the prime minister.
“These attacks, which threaten our country’s integrity and our nation’s unity and solidarity, do not weaken our resolve in fighting terrorism but bolster our determination,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement.
Local broadcasters reported that an Ankara court ordered a ban on access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites in Turkey after images from the car bombing were shared on social media.
Sunday’s attack comes just three weeks after a suicide car bombing in Ankaratargeted buses carrying military personnel, killing 29 people.
“We know how and when we will respond,” Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s prime minister, told Al Jazeera in an interview, referring to the February attack.
“Definitely, those who made this attack against our people will pay the price. But how and when, we will decide. And when it happens, everybody will see that Turkey can respond [to] any challenges and any attack against it.”
A Kurdish armed group, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), which is an offshoot of the outlawed PKK, claimed responsibility for that attack. TAK says it split from the PKK.Turkey has been fighting on multiple fronts. As part of a US-led coalition, it is battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), which has seized territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
It is also battling the outlawed PKK in its southeast, where a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire collapsed last July, prompting the worst violence since the 1990s.
Turkey sees the unrest in its largely Kurdish southeast as deeply linked to events in northern Syria, where the Kurdish YPG militia had been seizing territory as it fights both ISIL and rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey fears those gains will stir separatist ambitions among its own Kurds and has long argued that the YPG and PKK have close ideological and operational ties.
In its armed campaign in Turkey, the PKK has historically struck directly at the security forces and says it does not target civilians.
ISIL has carried out at least four bomb attacks on Turkey since June 2015, including a suicide bombing which killed 10 German tourists in central Istanbul in January.
Reports of Turkish troops slaughtering hundreds of civilians trapped in the basements of Cizre, which is located in Turkey’s Sirnak province, first surfaced in February. Some 150 people were allegedly burned to death in one of them.
That particular claim was made by Turkish MP Feleknas Uca from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, who spoke to Sputnik agency. These and other trapped people were reportedly denied access to food and medical supplies. However, until now, the alleged atrocities committed by the Turkish forces could not be substantiated on the ground.
Whiteman found witnesses who survived the offensive and were able to show the exact place of the mass killing, while providing terrifying details on what had happened.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Erdogan has destroyed our world. He has burned us,” said a female witness, while showing blood stains on the debris of the deadly building.
“Three, four – maybe five hundred people. There were old people, women and children – some as young as 10 years old. They killed a heavily pregnant woman,” added the woman, blaming Erdogan for indiscriminately killing innocent people during the so-called counter-terrorism operation against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists.
“Women and children lived here. Erdogan killed all of them with heavy artillery, he destroyed this home,” added the woman.
“They claim they are fighting ‘terrorists’ – but where are the terrorists?” she said, arguing that all of the victims had been civilians.
While inspecting the town, Whiteman reported a strong scent of decomposing bodies. This led him to another chilling discovery – a building whose basement has served as a mass grave.
Between 45 and 50 people were burned alive in one of the buildings, according to a local woman speaking to Whiteman. What is worse, many of the victims appear to have been cold-bloodedly beheaded by the Turkish troops, she said.
“They [Turkish forces] burned all of them. When we entered this basement we found decapitated bodies,” the witness told Whiteman. “They burned them and beheaded them.”
RT has submitted the footage shot in Cizre to HRW (Human Rights Watch), MSF International and MSF Middle East (Médecins Sans Frontières), the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), and Amnesty International. The channel asked if the organizations in question are planning to investigate the claims of Turkish forces’ atrocities against civilians there, and if any statements will be made.
Ever since the military operation on the Kurdish population in the Cizre region began, members of the European Parliament have been addressing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in open letters and public speeches, calling on him to put an end to the violence in Turkish regions inhabited by Kurds.
“The objective of the Erdogan government is to completely have a genocidal campaign against the Kurds, because that’s what’s now occurring,” said Gregory Copley, editor of the journal Defense and Foreign Affairs. “This is now genocide, because the Turkish government has denied that there is any major military operation underway there.”
The Turkish military has clearly been using “heavy ground weapons” in Cizre and “possibly even air weapons,” he added.
‘Erdogan could end up in The Hague for genocide of Kurds’
Commenting on the violence in Cizre, Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN), accused Erdogan’s government of war crimes.
“What the government of Turkey has done in Cizre is a war crime. They have attacked civilians who have not taken part in the fighting,” Xulam told RT, stressing that the Turkish military attacked Kurdish civilians that were not taking part in the fighting. “In a country that is aspiring to join the European Union and calls itself a member of NATO, you don’t target a whole town,” the expert said, adding that the “laws of war” imply making a distinction between civilians and belligerents.
According to data provided by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, “178 civilians were deliberately targeted in three different basements and among some of the dead were children as young as nine to 10 years old…The government not only deliberately targeted and killed them, but also burned them. Some relatives were given piles of bones of their loved ones,”Xulam said.
Xulam believes that Ankara’s offensive against the Kurds stems from the fact that Erdogan wants to be an uncontested“supreme leader” or “sultan” of Turkey, which the Kurdish population and its MPs strongly oppose. According to Xulam, Erdogan’s goal is to make the significant Kurdish ethnic minority (15 to 30 percent of Turkey’s population by various estimates) accept “inferior” status as “subjects,” and stop demanding language and cultural rights, as well as autonomy.
The Turkish military operation against PKK militants in the southeastern part of the country was launched in July 2015, breaking a ceasefire agreement that had held for two years. At the time of the alleged mass murder in Cizre, Turkish state television announced that 60 “terrorists” were killed in a building basement. The operation in Cizre, which, according to Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala, was completed “in a very successful fashion,” officially ended early February.
The alleged atrocities have brought little reaction from Western governments, as Turkey is a NATO member state and crucial to stemming the refugee and migrant crisis gripping Europe.
Most criticism has come from international human rights groups. Amnesty International reported in January that at least 150 civilians, women and children among them, had been killed in the Turkish military operation, saying that some 200,000 people had been put at risk and were being denied access to services due to strict curfews.
“Cuts to water and electricity supplies combined with the dangers of accessing food and medical care while under fire are having a devastating effect on residents, and the situation is likely to get worse, fast, if this isn’t addressed,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, as cited in the report.
Pointing out the lax reaction to the human rights violations committed en mass by Turkish authorities against the Kurdish population, he urged the international community not to turn a blind on the conflict.
“While the Turkish authorities appear determined to silence internal criticism, they have faced very little from the international community. Strategic considerations relating to the conflict in Syria and determined efforts to enlist Turkey’s help in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe must not overshadow allegations of gross human rights violations,” he added.
Official Source: https://www.rt.com/news/335200-cizre-burned-beheaded-kurds-erdogan/
Aboul-Gheit, who was the last foreign minister under former president Hosni Mubarak, was the only contender for the post of secratary-general.
The appointment came at a critical time for the Middle East, with Syria marking the fifth anniversary of its civil war, proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group raging across the region.
Aboul-Gheit, who has also served as Egypt’s ambassador to the United Nations, had been widely expected to win approval from the league members.
It is a long-held protocol that Egypt, as host of the Arab League, traditionally nominates the chief. The league has been almost exclusively led by Egyptians.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa announced the decision after some last-minute wrangling over the appointment, saying that Aboul-Gheit would “serve a five-year term effective July 1” as secretary-general.
Diplomats told the AP news agency earlier on Thursday that Qatar and Sudan had opposed the choice of Aboul-Gheit, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia lobbying them to accept the choice.
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said its reservation “stems from reasons related to the character of the candidate,” and not with Egypt itself.
The secretary-general can be elected by obtaining a minimum two-thirds majority of member states, but the group prefers to have unanimous agreement.
Divisions have weakened the Arab League since the 2011 uprisings that toppled three longtime autocratic rulers but also sparked armed conflicts.
Past league chairmen have included pan-Arab nationalists such as Amr Moussa and the outgoing head, Nabil Elaraby. Aboul-Gheit appointment appears to mark a shift as he is known to be a pragmatic diplomat with strong enmity for Islamist factions such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.Official Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/arab-league-elects-ahmed-aboul-gheit-chief-160311090316874.html
Emergency crews deployed at the scene have managed to contain the fire, and will remain at the scene to assist crews. Oconee Nuclear Station is a nuclear power plant located on Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina.
“Unit #1 was shut down as a precaution,” Oconee County Emergency Management said in a statement. “There is NO POTENTIAL FOR RELEASE.”
The plant operator Duke Energy said that while “Unit 1 has been safely shutdown” the remaining “Units 2 and 3 continue to operate safely.”
Officials blamed the “unusual event” on electrical equipment failure inside a transformer they say was located outside the building.
Authorities urged the public stay away from the area as emergency personnel and Duke Energy staff work around the area. However they emphasized that there was no security risk that would require evacuations or traffic detours.
The transformer malfunctioned and caught fire at 3:20pm local time, and the “unusual event” was upgraded to an “alert” – a second level of emergency – at 4:58pm, according to the company.
Incidents falling to “alert” classification require outside interference from emergency services but pose “no threat to public safety,” the company explained.
The 15-by-12 foot transformer had been burning for approximately 30 minutes before fire crews and Oconee County Fire units responded, WYFF4 reports.
The intense flames and thick black smoke coming out of the transformer which was seen by many witnesses was reportedly due to the oil that was inside.
The blaze was completely extinguished with the help of local fire brigades, and had “no impact” on plant employees or the facility’s neighbors, while customers are not expected to suffer any power outages.
The operator announced it will be conducting a thorough investigation of the cause of the incident at an aging plant located on Lake Keowee that began operations in 1973.
Oconee is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the US with a capacity of some 2,600 megawatts and is the second to have its operating license extended for an additional twenty years.
Official Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/334749-oconee-nuclear-transformer-fire/