Fears of escalation after 33 Turkish troops killed in Syria’s Idlib

first_imgTopics : The United States condemned the Syrian action, and NATO said it would hold urgent talks on the crisis on Friday.In a move that could have major repercussions for Turkey’s neighbors to the west, Ankara said it would open the way for refugees to go to Europe.”We will no longer keep the doors closed for refugees who want to go to Europe,” an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.Turkey also called on the international community to establish a no-fly zone over Idlib, where regime forces have since December clawed back chunks of the region, forcing close to one million people to flee their homes and shelters amid bitter cold.The United Nations said Monday that the latest fighting was coming “dangerously close” to encampments of the displaced, risking an imminent “bloodbath”.Turkey, which is already home to around 3.6 million Syrian refugees, fears more people arriving in the country where there is growing popular discontent against their presence.In a series of tweets, Altun accused Assad of “conducting ethnic cleansing” and seeking to drive millions of Syrians out of Idlib. “These people will try to escape to Turkey and Europe. Already hosting close to 4 million refugees, we do not have the capacity and resources to allow entry to another million,” he wrote.Groups of migrants have already moved towards western Turkey seeking to reach Greece, Turkey’s private DHA news agency reported.The international community voiced alarm over the latest violence in Idlib.”Without urgent action, the risk of even greater escalation grows by the hour,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, reiterating Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for an immediate ceasefire.NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged de-escalation by all parties of “this dangerous situation” and condemned the “indiscriminate air strikes”, in a phone call with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.A US State Department spokesperson said Washington stood by its NATO ally and continues to call “for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces”.Under a 2018 deal with Russia meant to bring calm to Idlib, Turkey has 12 observation posts in the Idlib region — but several have come under fire from Assad’s forces.In its first response to the Turkish deaths, Russia’s defense ministry said the troops were among “terrorist groups” and that they had not communicated their presence in the area.Thursday’s attack brings to 53 the number of Turkish security personnel killed in Idlib so far this month.Elsewhere, jihadists and Turkish-backed rebels on Thursday re-entered Saraqeb, a key Idlib crossroads town they had lost earlier in February, reversing one of the main gains of the government’s devastating offensive.The counter-offensive could, however, be short-lived as Russian-backed Syrian troops continued to chip away at other parts of the rebel bastion, capturing 20 localities.Seven civilians, including three children, were killed in regime and Russian bombardment of Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding to more than 400 such deaths since December.State news agency SANA acknowledged there were “fierce clashes” between the army and “terrorist groups on the Saraqeb front”.An AFP correspondent accompanied the rebels into Saraqeb, where he found a ghost town of bombed out buildings.The counter-attack temporarily reverses one of the key gains of the government since its offensive against the country’s last rebel enclave in December.The cash-strapped government had been keen to fully secure the M5, a highway that connects Syria’s four main cities and passes through Saraqeb.The Syrian Observatory said the air strikes were carried out by Russia, heavily criticized by the West for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign.State media accused the “terrorists” of launching car bombings and other suicide attacks against government forces attempting to retake the town.It said the army had inflicted heavy losses on the attackers, despite the military support it said they had received from Turkey.Some 950,0000 civilians have fled the government offensive, raising fears in Ankara of a new influx of refugees.More than half a million of those displaced since December are children, tens of thousands of whom are sleeping rough in northern Syria’s harsh winter.Erdogan had vowed on Wednesday that Ankara would not take the “smallest step back” in the standoff with Damascus and Moscow over Idlib. Adding to the tensions, Moscow announced that two of its warships were transiting Friday through the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul in plain sight of the cityThe UN has repeatedly warned that the fighting in Idlib could potentially create the most serious humanitarian crisis since the start of the civil war start in 2011.But Russian vetoes, often backed by China, have chronically crippled UN action in Syria.Turkey retaliated to Thursday’s strike  by hitting Damascus regime targets “from the air and ground,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said.center_img Turkey warned on Friday it was opening the gates for refugees to flee to Europe after an air strike blamed on Damascus killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria.The international community voiced fears of a rapidly-rising risk of escalation after the attack by Russian-backed Syrian forces in the province of Idlib, where President Bashar al-Assad is waging a bloody campaign to oust rebels from their last holdout.The deadly bombardment has added to weeks of growing tensions between rebel supporter and NATO member Ankara and Damascus ally Moscow.last_img read more

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D.O. Sportscast: Previewing the start of lacrosse’s seasons

first_imgOn this week’s edition of The D.O. Sportscast, our men’s and women’s beat writers discuss the start of the season. Topics include predictions, MVP’s, X-factors, takeaways and more.Subscribe to Sportscast on Spotify and iTunes. Comments AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Published on February 17, 2020 at 7:12 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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Patriots rumors: New England works out 4 wide receivers after Julian Edelman’s injury

first_img There’s a ’40 percent’ chance Rob Gronkowski comes out of retirement, returns to Patriots, report says Hunter is the biggest name in that group as he has recorded 13 touchdown catches over his six NFL seasons with the Titans, Bills, Dolphins and Steelers.The Patriots worked out four wide receivers today, per source: Nick Williams (Titans), Justin Hunter (Steelers), Papi White (Jaguars) and Travin Dural (Saints).— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 22, 2019The Patriots could be looking for depth at the position after news surfaced earlier in the day that veteran Julian Edelman will miss about three weeks of training camp with a finger injury. Related News Edelman signed a two-year, $18 million extension with New England this offseason. He’s expected to be quarterback Tom Brady’s top target after tight end Rob Gronkowski retired in the offseason.”I’m extremely excited for the new year. This is a new team,” Edelman said last week, via ESPN. “With training camp coming up, this is kind of like when school is back in session. We had summer break. You get to see all the fellas, and this is where you learn your team, learn each other and become accountable for each other, and create a consistency together. The Patriots may want to add an additional pass catcher.New England met with four wide receivers — Justin Hunter, Nick Williams, Papi White and Travin Dural — on Monday, according to a report from ESPN, which cites an unidentified league source. Sony Michel among 5 Patriots to open camp on PUP list, reports say Julian Edelman seen with brace on thumb, expected to be sidelined for camp “This is like the beginning shape form of your team, these next few weeks. It’s a crucial point. You put a lot of hard work in during the spring and it’s the next step until you’re playing with other teams.”Edelman was named the Super Bowl 53 MVP after he caught 10 passes for 141 yards in the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams.last_img read more

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Man City snap Liverpool winning streak to reignite title race

first_imgSane threatened first with a pacey burst down the left and rising drive that Alisson Becker parried.But City recycled possession and Aguero beat Dejan Lovren to Bernardo Silva’s cross before firing into the roof of the net to score for the seventh time in seven home league games against Liverpool.Despite a combination of nerves and fatigue at the end of a gruelling festive period, the game truly came to life in a pulsating second-half.City had claims for a penalty waived away when Raheem Sterling tumbled under a challenge from Andy Robertson before the Scot was to play a vital part Liverpool’s equaliser.One Liverpool full-back picked out another as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross was met perfectly by Robertson to square for Firmino to head into an empty net.Pep Guardiola had his head in his hands when a slack pass from Sane set Liverpool free on the counter-attack moments later, but within seconds the German showed what he is capable of as he latched on Sterling’s pass before firing in off the far post.Alisson demonstrated why Liverpool spent a then world record £67 million for a goalkeeper in July to bolster their title chances with a brilliant save from Aguero as the Argentine tried to round him at the end of a blistering City counter-attack.Seconds later it was the turn of his understudy in the Brazil side to make a huge save as Ederson denied Salah as tempers flared with Guardiola furious a free-kick wasn’t awarded City’s way before the Egyptian broke clear.Sterling then wasted a great chance to ensure City didn’t have to see out a tense five minutes of stoppage time, but the hosts held out to put the title back up for grabs.Share on: WhatsApp Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester City inflicted Liverpool’s first Premier League defeat of the season to breathe new life into their title defence with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Thursday.City now trail Jurgen Klopp’s men by just four points thanks to Leroy Sane’s winner 18 minutes from time after Roberto Firmino had cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s first-half opener for the hosts.A run of nine straight league wins had given Liverpool a commanding lead at the top of the table as they edged towards a first top flight title since 1989/90, particularly after City suffered back-to-back shock defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester to begin the festive season.With no more league meetings between the sides to come, Liverpool’s destiny is still in their own hands, but they will now have the pressure of having a City side that romped to the title with a record 100 points last season on their tails.Jurgen Klopp had predicted a “thunderstorm” of a start from the champions to match the Champions League quarter-final second leg between the sides last season when City roared into an early lead before Liverpool fought back to win 2-1 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.However, despite City’s dominance of possession, it was Liverpool who looked the more assured in the early stages.And only the finest of margins denied the visitors the lead on 19 minutes when Sadio Mane burst onto Mohamed Salah’s pass and saw his shot come back off the inside of the post.John Stones then smacked his panicked clearance into City goalkeeper Ederson but the England international redeemed himself by clearing just before all of the ball had crossed the line.City were also handed a reprieve by referee Anthony Taylor when captain Vincent Kompany only saw a yellow card for a wild two-footed lunge on Salah.At the other end Virgil van Dijk was again justifying his tag as the world’s most expensive defender to keep City’s array of attacking talent quiet with he Dutchman standing tall to block David Silva’s effort.However, a Liverpool defence that had not conceded twice in the same game all season in the league before kick-off was breached when City managed to free Aguero from Van Dijk’s shackles.last_img read more

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Ronaldo avoids jail but hit by hefty fine for tax fraud in Spain

first_imgRonaldo is one of several footballers to have fallen foul of Spain’s tax authorities in recent years.Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, once Ronaldo’s big La Liga rival, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of 252,000 euros, equivalent to 400 euros per day of the original term.His former Real Madrid team-mate Xabi Alonso appeared at the same Madrid court on Tuesday on a separate tax evasion charge.Public prosecutors are seeking a five-year jail sentence and a fine of four million euros.The trial was suspended while the court considers whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case.– Accused of rape in US –The recent crackdown on high-profile footballers follows the removal of a tax exemption in 2010. Known as the “Beckham law” after former Madrid player David Beckham, it had allowed footballers to curb their taxes.Ronaldo is also facing accusations in the United States where a former American model accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.Police in the US city recently asked Italian authorities for a DNA sample from the footballer.Ronaldo has always denied the accusations.In a New Year’s Eve interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, he said he had a “calm conscience” and was “confident that everything will very soon be clarified”. Madrid, Spain | AFP | Cristiano Ronaldo avoided jail on Tuesday but was ordered by a Spanish court to pay 3.57 million euros ($4.1 million) for committing tax fraud when he was at Real Madrid.The court sentenced him to a two-year jail sentence that it immediately reduced to a fine of 365,000 euros, which adds on to another penalty of 3.2 million euros, the sentence read.A court spokesman said he did not know whether this would be added on to the 18.8 million euros that Ronaldo had agreed to pay Spain’s taxman under a deal reached in June with the player’s lawyers.Ronaldo, who last year joined Italian champions Juventus, returned to Madrid for a brief court appearance which lasted around 40 minutes as the deal was officially presented to the judge.“I am very well,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner told the crowd of reporters gathered outside of the court in northeastern Madrid as he left the hearing. He signed a few autographs before leaving in a black van.The presiding judge refused the player’s request to appear by video or to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.Ronaldo, 33, smiled broadly as he arrived at the court dressed in black trousers, a black turtleneck and dark sunglasses, holding hands with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez.He had played for Juventus on Monday night, missing a penalty as the Italian league leaders eased past bottom club Chievo 3-0.– Offshore companies –Madrid prosecutors opened a probe into Ronaldo in June 2017 and he was questioned in July that same year.“I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” he told the court then, according to a statement from the sports agency which represents him, Gestifute.Prosecutors accuse him of having used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions — notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland — to avoid paying the tax due in Spain on payments for his image rights between 2011 and 2014.His lawyers said there had been a difference in interpretation of what was and was not taxable in Spain, and deny any deliberate attempt to evade tax.The deal between Spain’s tax authorities and his lawyers allowed Ronaldo to avoid sitting through a long trial that could have damaged his image and seen him handed a heftier sentence. FILE PHOTO: Ronaldo and girlfriend arrive in Madrid for court hearing. PHOTO AFP.center_img Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

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