The United States is setting up “observation posts” along parts of the border between Turkey and Syria to help keep the focus on defeating Islamic State militants in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday.
The observation posts would not require additional U.S. troops being sent to Syria, Mattis told reporters. The Pentagon says it has about 2,000 troops in Syria.
The United States has long been complained that tensions between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, have at times slowed down progress on fighting Islamic State militants.
The observation posts are aimed at ensuring that Turkey and the SDF remain focused on clearing final Islamic State strongholds.
“We are putting in observation posts in several locations up along the Syria border, northern Syria border, because we want to be the people who call the Turks and warn them if we see something coming out of an area that we’re operating in,” Mattis said.
“What this is designed to do is to make sure that the people we have fighting down in the (middle Euphrates River Valley) are not drawn off that fight, that we can crush what’s left of the geographic caliphate,” Mattis said, referring to areas controlled by Islamic state.
Turkey has been infuriated with Washington’s support for the YPG, which it views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
Islamic State is still present in eastern Syria in a pocket east of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq.
President Donald Trump’s administration hopes that the U.S.-backed fight against Islamic State in its last foothold in northeastern Syria will end within months but a top U.S. diplomat recently said American forces will remain to ensure the “enduring defeat” of the militant group.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Frances Kerry
‘Stand with Hong Kong’ shirts fill the stands at Nets game as NBA is protested for China subservience
The National Basketball Association was protested on Friday for bowing to pressure from China.
The NBA has been harshly criticized for standing by the oppressive regime instead of standing in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
"Producer and activist Andrew Duncan bought 300 tickets to tonight's Nets vs Raptors game and is hosting hundreds of Chinese pro-Democracy activists to protest the NBA," New York magazine correspondent Yashar Ali reported Friday. "They're all wearing 'Stand With Hong Kong' T-shirts."
Photos from the protest:
1. Producer and activist Andrew Duncan bought 300 tickets to tonight's Nets vs Raptors game and is hosting hundreds of Chinese pro-Democracy activists to protest the NBA.
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President Donald Trump is considering firing Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, The Atlantic reported Friday.
"Mick Mulvaney's job was in danger even before his disastrous press conference yesterday, and his equally disastrous attempt to walk that performance back," The Atlantic reported. "The fumble could not have been more poorly timed: According to multiple current and former White House officials, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to relay private conversations, Trump has been steadily souring on Mulvaney for weeks."
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Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore predicted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will ascend to Heaven in the afterlife during a Friday interview on MSNBC's "The Beat" with Ari Melber.
The host played a clip of Mulvaney admitting Trump's quid pro quo while seeking foreign election assistance from Ukraine.
"This man obviously is going to be admitted into Heaven," Moore said. "You know, he told the truth."
"If there was a movie version of this, somebody stuck him with a needle just before he walked out onto the stage there, a truth serum needle, and he just went on and on saying, 'Yeah, that’s what we do. Yeah, of course.' Essentially admitting there is a quid pro quo. In fact, there are many quid pro quos."