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US And Russian Troops Are Both In This Syrian City. What Could Go Wrong?
Nothing says “victory against terror” like two competing global powers’ militaries, operating without coordination, in one frontline Middle Eastern town whose status is disputed by hordes of armed proxy fighters "within hand-grenade range of one another," as one U.S. general puts it.
That’s the situation facing about 100 Army Rangers and their Russian counterparts in Manbij, a Syrian city liberated from ISIS late last year and now claimed by quibbling Kurds and Turkish-aligned fighters, according to Military Times:
Fewer than 100 elite Army Rangers are in Manbij to keep the peace between Syrian Kurdish forces and those loyal to Turkey, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Russian troops are there providing security for humanitarian convoys that have entered the war-torn city, a development he called unsurprising in light of last week's high-level talks between the senior-most military commanders from Russia, Turkey and the U.S.
The Americans and Russians have had no close interaction on the ground, Davis said. Moscow, he added, has "kept us abreast of their operations" in Manbij, but the two militaries do not coordinate in Syria. Rather, the Pentagon prefers the term "deconflict."
Indeed, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday that “Why we're there, and why we care, is we want to make sure the parties on the ground aren't shooting at each other.”
Manbij is something like the Mos Eisley of the Syrian Civil War right now, a way station for trigger-pullers and agenda-pushers. Last summer, U.S.-backed forces aligned with leftist Syrian Kurdish political factions succeeded in pushing ISIS fighters out of Manbij. That operation also cut off ISIS’s vital supply routes into Turkey.
Slide from a June 2016 Pentagon presentation on the strategic importance of Manbij to ISIS.
That Manbij operation, however, has Turkey’s government on edge. Turkey is wary of armed Kurds carving out their own mini-state along the Syria-Turkey border, and pro-Turkish militias also have designs on the city. Russia, which has a strong alliance with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, has been running convoys through the city and concern-trolling the Turks. Assad, for his part, has called U.S. troops in Syria “invaders.” And now, of course, the Rangers are in town.
The US military’s objectives in Manbij — beyond preparing for the final assault on ISIS’s capital, Raqqa — are a little fuzzy. As Davis suggested, American forces are trying to temper the passions of Kurdish, Turkish, and Assad forces in the area, wrestling with a Pandora’s box of nationalist, ethnic, and religious disputes backed by small arms.
Pro-Assad, pro-Russian media outlet ANNA News showed footage of what appeared to be Russian soldiers in a convoy to Manbij, claiming that Russian forces were helping to keep the peace and hold warring factions at bay:
In fact, there are signs that the Russians are using Monday’s Pentagon comments to legitimize their own operations in Syria and influence the other bickering factions. “Russia Keeps US 'Abreast' of Manbij Ops, No Close Calls Registered - Pentagon,” the Moscow-based, government-owned Sputnik News declared Tuesday, quoting Capt. Davis liberally. It went on to say that the “US military was ‘taking all necessary measures’ to defend Manbij from a possible assault by Turkish troops.” Propaganda or not, no war on terror, it turns out, is ever simple or easy.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.
Nine years after losing both legs in Afghanistan, he's found purpose in family, friends and inspiring others
There's a joke that Joey Jones likes to use when he feels the need to ease the tension in a room or in his own head.
To calm himself down, he uses it to remind himself of the obstacles he's had to overcome. When he faces challenges today — big or small — it brings him back to a time when the stakes were higher.
Jones will feel out a room before using the line. For nearly a decade, Jones, 33, has told his story to thousands of people, given motivational speeches to NFL teams and acted alongside a three-time Academy Award-winning actor.
On Tuesday afternoon, he stood at the front of a classroom at his alma mater, Southeast Whitfield High School in Georgia. The room was crowded with about 30 honor students.
It took about 20 minutes, but Jones started to get more comfortable as the room warmed up to him. A student asked about how he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I believe in post-traumatic growth," Jones said. "That means you go through tough and difficult situations and on the back end through recovery, you learn strength."
It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.