Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
China holds military drills following US arms sale to Taiwan
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's military recently carried out air and naval drills along its southeast coast, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, following the latest arms sales from the United States to self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a renegade province.
In a brief statement, and without giving an exact geographical location, the ministry said that the People's Liberation Army had in "recent days" held the exercises.
"These drills were routine arrangements in accordance with annual plans for the military," it said, without elaborating.
China's southeast coast is one of the country's most sensitive regions as it faces Taiwan across the narrow Taiwan Strait. China deems democratic Taiwan to be a wayward province, to be taken by force if needed.
On Friday, China said it would impose sanctions on U.S. firms involved in a deal to sell $2.2 billion worth of tanks, missiles and related equipment to Taiwan, saying it harmed China's sovereignty and national security.
That announcement came as Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was visiting New York on a transit stop to diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, a trip that has also infuriated Beijing, further straining Sino-U.S. ties already affected by a bitter trade war.
In a statement on Sunday, Taiwan's Presidential Office cited National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen as saying President Tsai had spoken by telephone with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while she was in the United States and met with other senators and members of Congress, without naming them.
President Tsai said Taiwan and the United States can both forge even closer ties, and also thanked the United States for "the importance it attaches to the security of the Taiwan Strait" and the recently announced arms sale, the statement said.
President Tsai also promised the United States that in the future in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan will continue to play a responsible partnership role, and defend democratic values and peace and stability in the region with like-minded countries, the statement added.
Tsai has repeatedly warned of the threat from its giant neighbor China and has vowed to defend Taiwan's security, democracy and way of life.
China has in recent years stepped up its military drills around Taiwan, including regularly flying what Beijing calls "island encirclement" exercises and sending warships into the waters around Taiwan.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Christian Schmollinger)
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.
"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.