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‘No restraint’

The rising human toll of Turkey’s invasion in Syria

Syrians fleeing Turkey’s invasion arrive in Tal Tamr in northwest Syria on Monday. Associated Press/Photo by Baderkhan Ahmad

‘No restraint’

SYRIA: More than 200,000 civilians have fled Turkey’s invasion of northeast Syria, and at least 40 civilians have died—and Turkey-backed militias appear to be committing war crimes as they advance. There is “no restraint” being exercised by Turkish forces, and no plans for large-scale humanitarian relief, reported Steve Gumaer of Partners Relief & Development.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) struck a deal Sunday night with the Syrian government army and its Russian backers for protection from the ongoing invasion of SDF-controlled area by Turkey. President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army has taken over from the SDF in key towns, reported a resident from Qamishli. What this means: the death of a dream. The SDF operated a self-administration zone (with its own constitution) that offered hope to the region’s Kurdish, Christian, and Yazidi populations for a participatory government. Now the Russian- and Iranian-backed Assad army is likely to face off against Sunni-led Turkey, absent a U.S. buffer offered by a small contingent of U.S. Special Forces and absent U.S. credibility after the Trump administration abandoned the SDF last week. Christian communities at great risk helped piece together life in the region following ISIS attacks in 2015. In one surreal moment of this surreal scene, the Pentagon gave Turkey locations of remaining U.S. forces in Syria, then Turkey fired artillery on them, then the United States protested.

BRITAIN’s 93-year-old monarch entered the Brexit fray Monday in her traditional speech opening a new session of Parliament. “My government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 October,” said Queen Elizabeth II at the start of her speech. “My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.” Her remarks may kick-start an otherwise doomed effort by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government is near collapse over his pledge to leave the EU by the deadline without a deal.

HONG KONG: The faces of Hong Kong’s Christian protesters are young and old, as rising violence threatens the 19-week-old movement.

RUSSIA: Police detained four more protest organizers in a crackdown following summer demonstrations led by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Last week, Russian authorities named Navalny’s organization a “foreign agent” subject to audits and other intrusions, a key way of silencing President Vladimir Putin’s opponents.

Alexei Leonov, the nearly stranded Soviet cosmonaut who became the first man to walk in space 54 years ago, has died in Moscow at age 85.

ECUADOR: Authorities and indigenous leaders reached agreement to cancel an economic austerity package that had ignited 11 days of protests that paralyzed the country and left at least seven people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

VIETNAM: American companies kowtowing to China face a backlash from Vietnam, with the government pulling Dreamworks’ animated film Abominable from theaters over a map of the South China Sea. It shows Chinese claims to waters where Vietnam has oil concessions. A vast Chinese market—which accounted for nearly $8 billion in ticket sales in 2017—gives Hollywood studios incentive to pander to communist-led censorship and propaganda.

THAILAND: Eleven elephants drowned at the Haew Narok Waterfall last week, and researchers suspect they were all part of one elephant family intent on saving its young.

COLUMBUS: There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of the man who led the expedition to the New World, but one of the most intriguing is that Christopher Columbus was a Sephardic Jew whose voyage of discovery was also a quest for religious freedom.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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