The move halts arms export licenses to Turke, but stops are short of a formal E.U.-wide arms embargo. In a statement, the member countries denounced Ankara’s incursion into northern Syria, which has killed hundreds and displaced thousands.
“The E.U. condemns Turkey’s military action, which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance,” the statement read. ” Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not with military action, and in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
Turkey’s military operations began last week after the White House ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from their posts in northern Syria. The move represented a shift in alliances for the Kurds, who fought alongside American forces against the Islamic State but now feel abandoned.
Ankara’s aim is to drive back Syrian Kurdish fighters from its border with Turkey. Turkish leaders consider the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) terrorists because of their links to an insurgency inside Turkey.
What began eight years ago as a series of nonviolent protests against the Syrian government morphed into an international conflict, between dozens of local factions, the Islamic State and several foreign countries.
Now, an American ally is attacking a group that fought side by side with American troops for years — and much of the world is reeling from the war’s sudden turn.
Let’s walk through the details of how the Kurds came to be in the center of a dizzying conflict.
How many Kurds are there in Syria?
Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up between 5 and 10 percent of the Syrian population of 21 million in 2011. They live mostly in the north of the country, close to the border with Turkey, alongside Arabs and other ethnic groups. There are also large Kurdish populations in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, but there is no country with a Kurdish majority.
How did Syrian Kurds become involved in the war?
As peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad descended into an armed civil war in 2011 and 2012, various factions vied for control of Syria. These included pro-government militias, rebels fighting for a more democratic state, Islamist extremists, and militias from ethnic and religious minorities seeking to protect their areas from attack.
Among them were several Kurdish militias, the strongest of which was the People’s Protection Units, known by its Kurdish initials, the Y.P.G.
How did America become involved in the war?
For several years, the Obama administration resisted calls to play a direct role in the Syrian war, preferring instead to provide funding and training for some rebel groups.
But President Barack Obama changed his mind as the Islamic State took advantage of the chaos of the war to capture vast swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory.
How did this Kurdish militia become an American ally?
As Islamic State fighters swept across Syria, the People’s Protection Units emerged as one of the few Syrian armed groups consistently able to take on the extremists. When the international coalition, led by the United States, sought local partners to contain the militants, they saw the Kurdish militia as the safest option.
Why do Syrian Kurds control so much land?
As the Kurdish militia gradually forced ISIS out of northern Syria — losing an estimated 11,000 troops in the process — it assumed governance of the land it captured. The militia eventually took control of about a quarter of the Syrian land mass, including most of the border with Turkey and areas mostly populated by Arabs and other ethnic groups.
Why does Turkey want to oust them from the area?
The militia is an offshoot of a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization.
Turkey sees Kurdish control of an area so close to its border as a major security threat, and fears that the area could become a haven for dissidents fleeing Turkey — or a springboard for insurgents plotting attacks on Turkish territory.
Turkish hostility to Kurdish groups put the United States in a bind: one American ally, Turkey, a NATO member and a fellow adversary of the Syrian government, was eager to crush another American ally, the Kurdish militia that fought on the front lines against ISIS.
How did the United States try to solve this problem?
The Obama administration tried to play down the militia’s connections to guerrillas in Turkey, encouraging the group to change its name and enlist more non-Kurdish fighters. The group is now called the Syrian Democratic Forces, and about 40 percent of its fighters are Arab or from other ethnic backgrounds, according to a 2016 estimate by American officials.
American forces also began to act as de facto peacekeepers, conducting patrols of the Turkish border, first on their own, and then in tandem with Turkish troops.
In recent months, the United States persuaded the Kurdish authorities to withdraw forces from the border and dismantle a series of defensive fortifications, as a show of good will to Turkey.
Why did American policy suddenly shift?
President Trump has long wanted to withdraw American forces from Syria, saying that the United States must avoid “endless wars.” He first ordered a withdrawal in December, but suspended the plan after his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, resigned in protest.
American troops seemed to be in Syria for the long haul, with American commanders assuring their Kurdish counterparts that they would be able to keep the peace in northern Syria for the foreseeable future.
But then Mr. Trump suddenly changed his mind again on Oct. 6 during a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Then he ordered American troops to leave the border area.
That gave Turkey open access to Kurdish territory, and a force consisting of Turkish troops and their Syrian Arab proxies began an invasion on Oct. 9.
Have American troops completely left the area?
Initially, American troops withdrew from a relatively small part of the Turkish-Syrian border, redeploying to American outposts in other parts of Kurdish-held Syria.
But amid the chaos of the invasion, in which American troops were almost shelled by accident, the Pentagon has now ordered a complete withdrawal from northern Syria. The retreat will most likely take several days.
A small American base in southern Syria will remain for now.
The Trump administration has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey for its attacks on the Kurds, and on Monday President Trump said that he was halting trade negotiations with Turkey and doubling tariffs on imports of Turkish steel.
Who benefits from Mr. Trump’s decision?
The immediate winners were Turkey and its Syrian Arab proxies, who had captured over 75 square miles of previously Kurdish-held territory by the end of the weekend.
The Islamic State might also profit from the instability, since Kurdish-led fighters no longer have the manpower to root out remaining militant cells or to guard roughly 11,000 captured ISIS fighters detained on Kurdish-held territory. The Kurds also operate more than a dozen camps for displaced families, in all holding tens of thousands of people, many of them the wives and children of Islamic State fighters.
The Syrian government is another beneficiary: On Sunday, the Kurdish authorities allowed Syrian troops to return to large parts of northern Syria in which they had no presence for more than half a decade.
Officially, the Syrian Army will just assist the Kurds in their defense of the area, with civilian life still managed by the Kurdish-led administration. But many fear that eventually the Assad regime, and its feared security forces, will take back control.
Russia and Iran, Mr. al-Assad’s main international protectors, are the other winners.
America’s withdrawal from northern Syria allows the two countries to expand their influence in the region. In particular, Russia has emerged as the main power broker in negotiations between the Kurds, Mr. al-Assad and the Turkish government.
While the national unemployment rate dropped to a record low last month, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to find jobs, according to the most recent report from the Labor Department.
The jobless rate among post 9-11 veterans rose from 3.9 to 4.5 percent over the last year — an exception to a report that showed veteran unemployment as a whole dipped slightly during the same time period.
One small business is on a mission to address the problem by hiring veterans and military spouses and affording them the flexibility of “working from home” — meaning from wherever military life may take them.
“Being a military family, you’re going to move every two to three years on average,” said Cameron Cruse, one of the founders of the North Carolina-based handbag company, R. Riveter. “You have to uproot your life and find a new job and a new identity. It takes so much every time you do it that a lot of times military people just give up.”
Cruse, 31, and co-founder, Lisa Bradley, 34 — both military spouses with master’s degrees — are no ordinary self-starting entrepreneurs. They are a formidable combination of yin-and-yang who founded R. Riveter, which provides a vital livelihood for spouses of the U.S. military who otherwise would be struggling to find meaningful work.
“We wanted to be part of the solution,” said Bradley, who’s had to move five times in six years.
Using a few scraps of leather and a single sewing machine from the attic of Cruse’s home, R. Riveter was born in 2011. Eight years later, the company — named after Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon of World War II representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during the war — is nothing short of an American success story.
“If you’d have told us then that we were going to take on manufacturing retail and military spouse unemployment, I would have told you, ‘you’re crazy,’” Cruse laughed.
The company founded by Lisa Bradley, left, and Cameron Cruse provides work opportunities for U.S. military spouses.
From Washington state to Ohio to Florida, some 50 women — known as “Riveters” — cut and sew individual parts of the bags from home and then mail them to the company’s headquarters in Southern Pines, N.C., where workers assemble the pieces in the warehouse.
The finished products are finely crafted leather and canvass handbags sold online and in R. Riveter’s local flagship store. Each bag is stamped with its own unique Riveter ID number and named after an American heroine, such as Margaret Corbin, the first woman to fight in the Revolutionary War and the first woman to receive a military pension from Congress.
“We wanted a different work-from-home opportunity for, really, the modern-day woman who is trying to do it all,” Bradley said.
“This light bulb went off for us when we thought about all the military families struggling out there — asking what happens when my spouse moves or he or she is deployed or in training and I have to go home and take care of my kids? What about my job?” Cruse added. “And, there was the idea — mobile, flexible income for military spouses.”
“The most important thing about what we do is that military spouses get to make parts and pieces from wherever the military takes them and then they continue to take that work with them wherever they go,” she continued. “So, they get to move from Georgia to Colorado to Washington state and then back to Georgia and never have to let go of that job and that R. Riveter community that they’ve become a part of.”
After an appearance in 2016 on ABC’s hit series “Shark Tank,” billionaire Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, invested $100,000 into the company, which saw sales increase from $300,000 to $2.4 million.
Now, a third of every dollar spent on the company’s merchandise goes to a military family in need — a detail that caught the attention of Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the North Carolina factory in November 2018 and lauded the company for creating a business model that “allows [military] spouses to work for them no matter where they live in the U.S.”
For each Riveter, the opportunity to work remotely and provide a steady income, while also becoming part of a nationwide network of other military spouses, has been life-changing.
“It gives me an identity — it gives me something that I can take pride in, knowing that this is going to be a gift and somebody is going to be able to enjoy it for a long time coming,” said Jennifer Campos, a busy mother of five who lives at Fort Benning in Georgia and whose husband has been deployed overseas.
“It’s my own little corner in the world to sit there and enjoy sewing,” Campos said. “And, I’m able to stay home and still be that stay-at-home mom for my kids, which I did for 13 years before I applied to work for R. Riveter.”
Scotty Geonetta-Inge, who joined the Army when she was 20 and whose husband has been active-duty military, praised the opportunity to work for a company that understood the struggles of military families.
“Being a single mom a lot, with a spouse that’s often gone, this company has helped tremendously because they work around our schedules,” Geonetta-Inge said. “It’s definitely filled a void for me.”
She added, “It also helps out a lot financially. I’m able to keep my daughter in day care. I also have a special needs child. Just working here part-time is so beneficial.”
Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, visited the factory in North Carolina in November 2018.
For Bradley and Cruse, the drive to start their own company has represented a cause greater than themselves.
“This was always for a greater purpose,” Bradley said. “You’re taking on the employment of other people and that just takes it to a whole other level. Failure is not an option.”
“It’s really neat that you can still start something from nothing in America,” she added. “That drive to make a difference and the passion for what you’re doing, you can start from an attic and you can grow a business with just that.”
The Montgomery County Police Department said the incident happened just before 9 a.m. in downtown Silver Spring, north of Washington, D.C., after the officer was investigating the report of a “disorderly subject.”
Other officers who arrived to provide backup found the officer wounded on the garage’s top floor. He was rushed to a hospital where he later died, said Marcus Jones, the acting Montgomery County Police chief, at a news conference.
Jones identified the officer as Thomas J. Bomba, 38, a 13-year veteran of the department who was assigned to the 3rd District.
“Officer Bomba was a very dedicated officer who worked in downtown Silver Spring,” Jones said. “We have typically been made aware of many different types of crimes that occur in downtown and Officer Bomba always been actively involved on patrol and addressing a lot of the concerns that have occurred in downtown Silver Spring.”
A police officer was found shot in a parking garage in downtown Silver Spring, Md., on Monday morning. (Fox 5)
The incident spawned a massive police response in Silver Spring, with aerial images showing dozens of police vehicles in the parking garage where the shooting unfolded.
The incident caused a massive emergency response in downtown Silver Spring, closing several roads. (Fox 5)
Tactical teams and officers also were seen sweeping different levels of the garage. No suspects have been detained and no descriptions of possible suspects were available, Jones said.
At an earlier media briefing, Montgomery County Police Captain Thomas Jordan said, “to describe this as an all-hands-on-deck operation would be an understatement.”
Jones said the case was being investigated as a homicide, but he also said there was no indication of an “ongoing” public safety threat.
He said Bomba was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting but was not sure if it had been activated. The officer’s weapon turned up at the scene but it was not clear if he returned fire, Jones told reporters.
Investigators were working with nearby businesses with surveillance cameras to see if any recorded the shooting, Jones said.
President Trump announced Monday afternoon that he will soon issue an executive order imposing sanctions against Turkey for its “destabilizing” offensive in Syria, amid a bipartisan outcry over the president’s troop pullback earlier this year that endangered U.S.-aligned Kurdish forces.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Trump announced that steel tariffs would “be increased back up to 50 percent,” and the U.S. will “immediately stop negotiations … with respect to a $!00 billion trade deal with Turkey.”
The order would enable “powerful” additional sanctions against those who “may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a ceasefire, preventing displaced persons from returning home, forcibly repatriation refugees, or threatening the peace, security, or stability in Syria,’ Trump wrote. Current and former Turkish officials, as well as anyone contributing to “Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria” might be targeted, Trump said.
Remaining U.S. troops in northeast Syria will be withdrawn as planned, Trump said, and redeployed “in the region to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014,” when ISIS made major territorial gains.
In separate tweets, the president said he would “much rather focus on our Southern border” than the conflict in Syria.
Trump also emphasized that Syria “wants naturally to protect the Kurds.” The New York Times reported that a deal between Kurdish forces and Damascus – which was announced Sunday evening – would enable Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to attempt to regain a foothold in the country’s northeast.
A poster of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is held up during show of support by about a dozen people for Turkey’s operation in Syria, in the border town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, on Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Erdogan has criticized NATO allies which are looking to broaden an arms embargo against Turkey over its push into northern Syria. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
“An agreement has been reached with the Syrian government – whose duty it is to protect the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty – for the Syrian Army to enter and deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to help the [Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF] stop this aggression” by Turkey, the SDF, which is a primarily Kurdish militia, said in a statement.
The developments came as graphic images of violence directed at Kurds circulated on social media.
Turkey has justified its ongoing invasion of northeast Syria to the United Nations by saying it’s exercising its right to self-defense under the U.N. Charter, according to a letter circulated Monday.
Ankara said the military offensive was undertaken to counter an “imminent terrorist threat” and to ensure the security of its borders from Syrian Kurdish militias, whom it calls “terrorists,” and the Islamic State extremist group.
Since 2014, the Kurds had fought alongside American forces in defeating ISIS in Syria. But Trump ordered American troops in northern Syria to step aside last week — a move decried at home and abroad as a betrayal of an ally.
The U.S. withdrawal cleared the way for Turkey’s cross-border attack on Kurdish-held areas in Syria, which is now in its sixth day and has led to quickly shifting alliances.
The military action by Ankara sets up a potential clash between Turkish and Syrian government troops, as the Kurds have now turned to Damascus for support. It also raises the specter of a resurgent ISIS, since the Kurds will focus their attention on the Turkish advance.
Turkey’s position is that the main Kurdish group in Syria is linked to an outlawed Kurdish group in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Known as the PKK, that group has waged a 35-year old conflict against the Turkish state that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu said in the letter to the Security Council dated Oct. 9 that its counter-terrorism operation will be “proportionate, measured and responsible.”
A Turkish forces tank is driven to its new position after was transported by trucks, on a road towards the border with Syria in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, on Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Syrian troops entered several northern towns and villages Monday, getting close to the Turkish border as Turkey’s army and opposition forces backed by Ankara marched south in the same direction, raising concerns of a clash between the two sides as Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria entered its sixth day. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
“The operation will target only terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment,” he said. “All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population.”
But U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that at least 160,000 civilians have been newly displaced and that military action has already reportedly resulted in many civilian casualties.
“Peter suffered a freak accident. He got a cut on his head, he did get stitches but he’s 100 percent OK and production is already back underway,” Harrison said. “He’s still the dashing, handsome pilot we’ve all dreamed of.”
The initial report by RadarOnline suggested Weber “split his face on two cocktail glasses he was carrying” and required 22 stitches. However, according to People, Weber’s injury was “not as bad as what [was] being reported.”
Weber, an airline pilot, was announced as the bachelor-to-be for Season 24 last month after finishing third in Hannah Brown’s explosive season of “The Bachelorette.”
The fan-favorite opened up recently about the opportunity to dish out the roses.
“This is life-changing. I have truly, my entire life, looked forward to finding my girl, and that person that I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with,” the Delta pilot said. “I’ve had the most amazing example of my parents, growing up, and I feel like the luckiest kid ever. I saw so much love in my household, and just 30 some odd years later now, they’re that much in love with each other.”
“I have all the faith in the world that this can work for me, and I know it’s going to,” he added. “This is not normal, dating 30 women at the same time. I’ve never done this before, so there’s going to be ups and downs, I know that’s coming, and I’m not going to be perfect… the possibility of making the wrong decision, it’s out there, but I’m going to follow my heart.”
A Moran tugboat nears the stern of the vessel Golden Ray as it lays on its side in Jekyll Island, Ga. The ship capsized last month and is still there on its side, leaking an unknown amount of fuel and oil. Stephen B. Morton/APhide caption
A Moran tugboat nears the stern of the vessel Golden Ray as it lays on its side in Jekyll Island, Ga. The ship capsized last month and is still there on its side, leaking an unknown amount of fuel and oil.
Despite lots of effort, it’s been leaking an unknown amount of fuel and oil, which has local environmental advocates and commercial fishermen concerned. Oil has been found in sheens in the water, in bits on some beaches and in the marsh itself, indicated by black stains on the spartina grass.
Crews in yellow protective suits have been working 12 hours a day trying to mitigate the effects of the oil, setting up thousands of feet of containment boom, spraying sphagnum moss, a peat absorbent on the grass to keep it from sticking to other surfaces and animals, and removing already dead, oiled marsh grass.
They’re part of what’s known as Unified Command, a joint recovery and salvage effort between the state of Georgia, the Coast Guard and the shipping company, Hyundai Glovis’s contractor, Gallagher Marine Systems. There are about 400 people and 70 vessels participating.
One of their top priorities has been pumping the roughly 300,000 gallons of fuel and oil out of the ship’s tanks. They’ve gotten more than 220,000 gallons off so far.
“The vessel obviously is not designed to be on its side,” said Commander Norm Witt, who is leading the Coast Guard’s response to the wreck.
“So there are stresses on the hull. On a daily basis, more hourly basis experts are monitoring those stresses to see how it’s impacting the vessel. As we pump out one tank, you’re evaluating the next tank,” he said.
But what’s already spilled has become a big problem for fishermen like Scott Owens, a 20-year veteran charter boat captain in the area. He’s had bookings cancel because of the Golden Ray and its leaks.
In early October, he was out fishing with clients and ran into bits of oil in the marsh.
“I thought [it] looked like burnt bark off a pine tree so I kept riding and didn’t pay that much attention to it until I got up in the grass, and I saw it on blades of grass,” he said.
Owens said seeing it made him mad.
“It really hit home because I was in my environment, looking at tailing redfish … and there were egrets, there were pelicans, there were dolphins, there were manatees and they were all swimming right through this stuff. And it was everywhere,” he said.
Recovery efforts have included pumping the roughly 300,000 gallons of fuel and oil out of the ship’s tanks. More than 220,000 gallons have been removed so far. Stephen B. Morton/APhide caption
Owens and others have been going out to collect samples with scientists and environmental advocates — all volunteering their time.
“We have a lot of different contaminants,” said Fletcher Sams, executive director of the local environmental group, Altamaha Riverkeeper. He’s been out sampling and monitoring since the ship wrecked.
“From the anti-freeze in the radiators in the vehicles to the gasoline and the diesel in the vehicles, hydraulic fuel in the boat, heavy bunker fuel and marine gas oil. So you’ve got a mixture, a concoction of contaminants and each travels through the environment at different speeds.”
“There’s nothing on that ship that’s coming off of it right now that’s good,” Owens said. “Except the fuel that people are taking off of there. That’s about the only thing coming off that’s good because it’s not going in our water.”
Owens and other fishermen like Greg Hildreth are worried about how this could affect their finances. Hildreth has a kid about to go to college.
“What’s next year going to hold?” he asked. “What is this effect? What is it going to do? The not knowing is the scary thing about it.”
There are many unanswered questions about the Golden Ray.
When will it be removed? How will they do it? The latest plan is to disassemble the ship in place because it is not strong enough to be safely righted and refloat.
However, the details of that plan are still up in the air. Salvage crews are rappelling and diving into more of the ship every day to try to assess the damage and structural health of the ship and figure that out. Each new part of the Golden Ray has to be tested for air and water toxicity before people can begin exploring it.
Sams said this removal plan makes his group particularly worried about the threat of further contamination from inside the cargo hold. “We will have to wait and see what plans they put into place to mitigate those impacts before we know for sure if our initial concerns are valid,” he said.
Doug Haymans, director of coastal resources with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, pointed out things could be a lot worse. “You know you never want something like this to happen,” he said. “But for what it is we are very, very fortunate to this point. The amount of oil that we see to where it could be, we’re very fortunate.”
“The goal is to remove any potential threat to the environment,” said Chris Graff, director of response services for Gallagher Marine Systems, which is representing the shipping company. “You won’t be able to get all of it, we know that. There’s always going to be some.”
“Venezuela is the last country that should sit on a council that’s supposed to protect human rights,” Haley wrote in a scathing op-ed in the Miami Herald on Sunday. “And yet, because of the corrupt rules for membership in the HRC, the Maduro regime has a real chance of winning.”
Before Costa Rica mounted a bid for the HRC, Venezuela was one of two Latin American countries running for the region’s two allotted spots in this week’s election, essentially guaranteeing it a seat. Brazil is also seeking to join the HRC. Haley beseeched U.N. members to vote for the Central American country over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s “criminal, socialist, narco-state.”
Haley said that while she expected opposition from Russia and China to her efforts to reform the long-maligned council while she was the U.S. ambassador, she was surprised at the complacency of countries that traditionally supported human rights.
“It’s difficult to say which was worse: the tolerance we encountered for human-rights violators or the hypocrisy of the countries that should have known better,” she said. “Almost all the pro-human-rights countries agreed on the need for reform of the Council. But they refused to take a stand in public.”
That complacency, Haley writes, is why the United States decided to leave the Human Rights Council during her tenure. She does, however, see Thursday’s vote for new members of the world’s foremost human rights watchdog as a chance at partial redemption for the body.
“The United States must continue to fight for the protection of human rights and human dignity. That is who we are. But the fight cannot be ours alone,” Haley said. “If the U.N. General Assembly elects Costa Rica instead of Venezuela, we will know that a majority of the world’s countries agree.”
Human Rights Council members serve three-year terms on a rotating calendar with a specific amount of spots allowed for countries from various geographical regions. There are 47 total member states on the Council, which are chosen by secret ballot.
Specific details about the sanctions were unclear but Trump said on Twitter: “Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is a great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!”
Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reported that the measures were being “worked out at all levels of the government for rollout.”
Last week, Trump vowed to obliterate Ankara’s economy if Turkey did anything in Syria that he considered “off-limits.”
Over the past five days, Turkish troops and their allies, emboldened by the announced U.S. withdrawal of soldiers from the area, have pushed their way into northern Syria towns and villages, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 125 miles. The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.
On Sunday, at least nine people, including five civilians, were killed in Turkish airstrikes on a convoy in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian Kurdish officials.
Waltz, R-Fla., an Army officer as well as a lawmaker, went on to say, “The United States has to lead, and when we create a vacuum, bad actors and bad things happen and fill the void.”
Trump was criticized by lawmakers across the political aisle, including outspoken ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for his initial decision, but was praised Sunday night for working with Congress “to impose crippling sanctions against Turkeys (sic) outrageous aggression/war crimes in Syria.”
Fox News’ Melissa Leon and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.
Matt Lauer denied the new rape allegation in a letter from his lawyer to Variety. His former NBC colleagues called the allegation “painful.” USA TODAY
NEW YORK — If Ronan Farrow is exhausted, he certainly doesn’t show it.
The crusading journalist, whose investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse for The New Yorker earned him a Pulitzer Prize last year, is razor-sharp and smiling as he walks into USA TODAY’s New York offices on a late weekday afternoon, primed to talk about his new book “Catch and Kill,” out Tuesday.
“I’m not getting a lot of sleep right now,” admits Farrow, 31, who hastily chugs a full mug of hot coffee upon arrival. “But I’m proud of the reporting and I’m glad it’s becoming public.”
Part-memoir, part-thriller, “Catch and Kill” details Farrow’s months-long struggle to report the Weinstein story for NBC, where he started as host of MSNBC’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” in 2014, before becoming an investigative correspondent for “Today.”
Farrow tells USA TODAY that he had multiple named accusers including Rose McGowan, and taped audio of Weinstein threatening model Ambra Gutierrez, when he brought his investigation to NBC executives. But according to him, they continually poked holes in his reporting and delayed running the piece, telling him it wasn’t “newsworthy” and to “give it a rest” before killing the story altogether. (NBC News president Noah Oppenheim refuted Farrow’s claims in a memo released Monday, writing that he had “no victims or witnesses on the record,” including McGowan, who at the time, declined to identify Weinstein by name.)
Despite NBC’s claims to the contrary, Farrow insists that he and his producer, Rich McHugh,”were ordered to stop (reporting the story). We were given a hard order not to take a single call about the subject, and we were ordered to cancel interviews with rape victims. This was un-journalistic, it was a big question mark in the press why, and ‘Catch and Kill’ answers why, which was a company concealing a lot of secrets that had a lot of secret contacts with Harvey Weinstein.”
According to “Catch,” Weinstein allegedly knew of multiple sexual misconduct accusations against former “Today” anchor Matt Lauer, obtained by Weinstein’s friend Dylan Howard, chief content officer of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. (AMI). The book goes on to allege that Weinstein threatened to expose Lauer if NBC ran Farrow’s investigation of him, which Oppenheim rejected Monday as a “third-hand rumor” with “no corroboration.”
One of those alleged victims is Brooke Nevils, a former assistant to “Today” host Meredith Vieira. In “Catch’s” most disturbing chapter, Nevils describes in graphic detail the night that Lauer allegedly raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia. “(It) hurt to walk, hurt to sit,” Nevils tells Farrow of the days following the alleged attack.
Lauer denied Nevils’ account of the encounter in an open letter last week, calling her “an enthusiastic and willing partner,” and writing that “at no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent.”
Nevils tells Farrow that she continued a “transactional” sexual relationship with Lauer after returning to the U.S., primarilyout of fear that she would jeopardize her career – as well as that of her boyfriend’s brother, who worked for Lauer – if she didn’t adhere to his wishes.
Nevil admits to initiating some encounters with Lauer (then-married to model Annette Roque), but accuses him of other non-consensual acts in the workplace: In one incident, he allegedly groped her as she reached for an electronic photo frame on his office window ledge. On another day, he reportedly forced her to perform oral sex on him at his desk in exchange for recording a “goodbye” video for a departing employee.
“Very often, you see a situation where a boss or someone else in a position of power has continued access to someone with an accusation,” Farrow says. “And after the initial assault, you see repeat contact – even sometimes consensual contact or quasi-consensual – where they say ‘yes’ to something in a situation where this person has tremendous power over them and they’re frightened. There are all sorts of complications like that that are very common in these stories.”
It wasn’t until years later, after being hospitalized for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse, that Nevils eventually confided in Vieira about Lauer’s alleged rape. With Vieira’s encouragement, Nevils formally reported the incident to NBC in 2017, leading to his dismissal that November.
Farrow refuses to speculate whether Lauer could face legal repercussions for allegedly assaulting Nevils, but maintains that Nevils has “abided by a lot of scary legal restrictions that she is still under,” including that she “cannot disparage the executives of NBC,” as a term of her contract.
“Brooke Nevils’ story is important: not just because it’s serious in its own right,” Farrow says. “It reveals, within this company, a reliance on secret settlements of the type that prevents her to this day from talking about NBC executives and what they knew.”
In the months following Lauer’s exit, claims of sexual misconduct have been lodged against a slew of NBC executives and on-air talent, including Matt Zimmerman, Mark Halperin, Chris Matthews and Tom Brokaw. All have been formally reprimanded or fired, but Farrow warns of a more “dangerous situation” at NBC, where employees “have talked about feeling it was fruitless to go to the H.R. department,” convinced their allegations would be ignored or dismissed.
An unnamed NBC correspondent quoted in “Catch” takes it a step further: comparing NBC to the Vatican, home of the Catholic Church’s top leaders, in that both “were willing to cover up sex crimes.”
“The Matt Lauer story is bigger than one person,” Farrow says. Right now, “there’s a lot of white-hot focus on the allegations against (him) revealed in this book, and there are people with an active interest in ensuring that the focus stays there. Just as significant is the reporting that suggests this was much wider and bigger than Matt Lauer: This was a company that was concealing a lot of secrets, and there were allegations against multiple people in senior positions that were covered up. That affected this news organization’s coverage profoundly.”