Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Westboro Baptist Church Plans To Protest Funeral Of Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
The Westboro Baptist Church has issued a statement saying it will protest the funeral of slain Sgt. Dillon Baldridge in Ashe County, North Carolina, on Friday.
Baldridge, of Youngsville, was one of three soldiers killed in a June 10 operation in Afghanistan. National reports said the soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier in an apparent inside attack. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack.
“Dillon Baldridge gave his life for the Constitutional right of WBC to warn America.” the statement from Westboro Baptist Church said. “To deny us our First Amendment rights to warn our neighbors is to declare to the world that Dillon died in vain, and that America is a nation of proud, sodomite hypocrites.”
A representative from Baldridge’s family could not be reached for comment.
The Westboro Baptist Church, considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is known for its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, inflammatory signs and protests at funerals for fallen soldiers. The group links the deaths of military members to an acceptance of LGBTQ rights, and claims the deaths happen because of God’s wrath.
“These soldiers are dying for the homosexual and other sins of America,” the statement said. “God is now America’s enemy, and God Himself is fighting against America.”
The Kansas-based group has been the subject of free speech debates in recent years. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled the church’s speech and picketing of funerals were protected under the First Amendment.
Congress later passed the Honoring America’s Veterans Act in response to the Supreme Court ruling, adding restrictions to the group’s protesting. The act enforced a distance protestors can picket funerals for fallen soldiers.
Westboro Baptist Church’s statement said the group will protest outside of the auditorium where the public funeral is being held, and in a “lawful proximity” of the service.
©2017 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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."
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.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that it's "absolutely a given" that ISIS will come back if the U.S. doesn't keep up pressure on the group, just one week after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
"It's in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks, and we'll have to see if they're able to maintain the fight against ISIS," Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," set to air on Sunday. "It's going to have an impact. The question is how much?"