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Turkey launches strikes on Kurdish forces in Syria

A photo taken from a nearby town of the strikes on Afrin. Photo: Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey has launched air strikes to force Kurdish fighters, some of whom have worked with the U.S. to fight ISIS, from the border city of Afrin in Syria. Per the BBC, "there are also reports of pro-Turkish Syrian rebels advancing on the city."

  • The backdrop: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers all Kurdish forces terrorist groups, a major point of contention with the U.S. and other NATO allies. The Trump administration had urged Erdogan not to go ahead with the expected assault on Afrin. Russia is also active in the region, but has said it will not intervene.
  • Why it matters: The strikes have "raised fears of sparking a new round of hostilities between the various powers with interests in northern Syria," per the WashPost.

Editor's note: This has been corrected to show that Erdogan considers Kurdish forces, not Turkish forces, to be terrorists.. We regret the error.

Dave Lawler 10 hours ago
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Russia in U.N. protest: Peace and security not linked to human rights

A Russian official during a 2017 Security Council hearing. Photo: EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images

U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has been blocked from addressing the Security Council about atrocities being committed in Syria following a Russia-led protest backed by China. He will instead give an informal briefing.

  • The dispute: Per the AP, Russia "had argued that human rights have nothing to do with the council's mandate of ensuring international peace and security." Western diplomats countered that they're closely linked.
  • The backdrop: Russia has played an active role in the slaughter of civilians in Syria in its efforts to prop up the Assad regime. Hundreds have been killed in an ongoing offensive on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta.
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Palestinian president calls U.S. ambassador "son of a dog"

Abbas speaks in Ramallah. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally attacked U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman today, calling him a "son of a dog" during a speech at his Fatah party meeting. The U.S. State Department has condemned his rhetoric as "outrageous and unhelpful."

Why it matters: This is another escalation in Abbas's rhetoric against the U.S. since President Trump's Jerusalem announcement. In another speech two months ago, Abbas went on a personal attack against Trump himself and told him to "go to hell".