Rights groups and anti-war activists warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” Wednesday as Turkish forces invaded northeastern Syria and launched airstrikes against Kurdish targets, forcing civilians to flee in panic.
The attack comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump gave his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a green light to begin the operation by announcing the abrupt withdrawal of American forces from northeastern Syria.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned in a statement Wednesday that Turkey’s assault “will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded.”
On Twitter, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali accused Turkey of deliberately targeting “civilian areas.”
Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas. There is a huge panic among people of the region.
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) October 9, 2019
Fighters with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which leads the SDF, told CNN that hundreds of civilians scrambled to escape northeastern Syria as Turkey began bombarding the area:
Hundreds of civilians in northern Syria have fled areas on the border with Turkey within the last 30 minutes, two YPG fighters and witnesses tell CNN. @npwcnn reports. https://t.co/Pm88pjHaON pic.twitter.com/iyoy1sjNcT
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 9, 2019
In a statement issued before Turkey launched its attack, Amnesty International said “it is imperative that all parties to this conflict respect international humanitarian law, including by refraining from carrying out attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.”
“The international community must take measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law by the Turkish authorities and pro-Turkey armed groups and Kurdish forces if yet another humanitarian catastrophe in northern Syria is to be avoided,” said Amnesty.
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Sixty-seven percent of respondents—including majorities of Democrats and Independents—said there should be a wealth tax on billionaires, as Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have proposed.
Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?
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A major U.S. stock market index posted its biggest two-day drop on record, erasing all the gains from the previous two months; companies including Apple and Walmart have been warning of potential sales losses from COVID-19 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Americans to prepare for the outbreak to spread to the United States, with unknown but potentially “bad” consequences.
Indigenous people may be the Amazon’s last hope
Brazil’s divisive President Jair Bolsonaro has taken another step in his bold plans to develop the Amazon rainforest.
A bill he is sponsoring, now before Congress, would allow transportation infrastructure to be built on indigenous territory. Such lands cover 386,000 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon – one-fifth of the jungle. Here, Native people are constitutionally entitled to exercise sovereignty over resource use.