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US pullout from Syria begins amid confusion over Pentagon timetable

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Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said the process of removing troops for the country had started.

But the Baghdad-based official did not give details and it is unclear how many vehicles or troop units had been withdrawn.

“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said in a statement.

The news follows weeks of confusion over Donald Trump’s plans for US withdrawal from the country.

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump has ordered the Syria pullout

It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is defeated.

President Trump shocked almost everyone – from Congress and the Pentagon, to America’s allies and enemies around the world – when he announced the pullout, arguing that the US was “getting nothing” from its involvement in the country.

The announcement was criticised by British defence minister Tobias Ellwood, who said IS had “morphed into other forms of extremism” and that the threat “is very much alive”.

The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the move had “dangerous implications” for stability, would “negatively affect the campaign against terrorism” and create “a political and military vacuum”.

In the weeks following his announcement, Mr Trump has given differing signals over the future of US involvement in the country.

After initially tweeting that he would bring back US troops “now”, Mr Trump this week said the US would “be leaving at a proper pace” while “continuing to fight IS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary”.

The news that a withdrawal had begun was confirmed on Thursday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, which monitors activity in the war-town country through a network of activists.

It said a convoy of ten armoured vehicles and some trucks had pulled out of Rmeilan, in Syria’s north west, into Iraq.



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Trump recognises Venezuelan opposition leader as interim president amid unrest | World News

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Venezuela’s opposition leader has declared himself the new president amid riots which have led to several deaths.

Juan Guaido was met with cheering support after naming himself interim president, raising his right hand as he said he was “formally assuming the responsibility of the national executive”.

Soon after, US president Donald Trump formally recognised Mr Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

A statement from the White House encouraged other western nations to make the same move.

Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro
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Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a contested second term two weeks ago but has been met by international condemnation.

Thousands of Venezuelans have protested against Mr Maduro, accusing him of usurping power and demanding he step down.

Millions have fled as the country reels from a crushing economic crisis. Those who are forced to stay are going hungry.

The Venezuelan parliament is not likely to convene until Thursday at the earliest.

Stuart Ramsey, Sky correspondent in Venezuela, said: “He was surrounded by people screaming ‘president, president’ as he walked through a rallying point.

“This will end in violence, I can guarantee that, but it has already been violent.

“We know of six dead, two relatively recently, in different parts of the country.

“This question now is what does the president Maduro do?”

He added: “The opposition is hoping the international community will give the support that they need.

“Perhaps proper action, more sanctions, worse. The international community has condemned the leadership here as unelected, Maduro was called a usurper, but we now have two presidents and there is of course, chaos coming.”

Juan Guaido declared himself president
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Juan Guaido declared himself president

Mr Maduro was re-elected last month but the country’s opposition does not recognise the election and says it was fraudulent.

The US recognition of Mr Guaido will mount pressure on Mr Maduro to step down.

Four people died in overnight clashes between opposition supporters and regime loyalists as they prepared for rival rallies on Wednesday after a failed military mutiny.

According to the Social Conflict Observatory a 16-year-old who suffered a firearm injury during a demonstration was among the dead.

Much of the unrest took place in Bolivar state on the border of Brazil. Police said there were three deaths during a looting in the capital Bolivar City.

A statue of revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez was torched by protesters in San Felix.

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French nappies found to contain weedkiller and other potentially toxic chemicals | World News

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Potentially toxic substances, including a widely-used weedkiller linked to cancer, have been discovered in nappies made and sold in France.

Environment agency ANSES revealed its findings in a new study published on Wednesday, with scientists testing 23 types of nappies as they were worn by children.

The tests uncovered butylphenyl methylpropional – used in beauty products – and some aromatic hydrocarbons.

The weedkiller chemical found was glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer and had been subjected to attempts by some European leaders to have it banned.

Regarding its discovery in nappies made in the country, the government said it was vital that manufacturers and retailers ensured the substance was removed.

In a joint statement, the health, environment and finance ministries said: “We call on manufacturers and retailers to take measures within the next 15 days to eliminate these substances from babies’ nappies.”

Emmanuel Macron wants Europe to have a dedicated army
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Emmanuel Macron has previously said he wants glyphosate to be banned

Health minister Agnes Buzyn also moved to assure parents that there was no immediate risk to their children, and said the report was “a precaution to protect our children from possible effects”.

She added: “Obviously we should continue putting nappies on our babies – we’ve been doing that for at least 50 years.”

President Emmanuel Macron has previously said he wanted the glyphosate to be completely phased out, but farmers are likely to be exempt as there are no credible alternatives.

As well as being potentially dangerous to humans, scientists have warned that the controversial pesticide could also be killing bees.

But it remains registered in around 130 countries, including the UK, where it is commonly used to spray pests.

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‘I can’t say I’m sorry’: Trump hat teen Nick Sandmann defends himself over Native American encounter | US News

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A US high school student has said he wished he “walked away and avoided” his encounter with a Native American protester.

Nick Sandmann was filmed apparently smirking while standing just a few feet from Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Friday in a video that has gone viral.

But the teenager said he did not intend to be disrespectful, insisting “I’d like to talk to [Mr Phillips]”

“I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there,” he told NBC’s Today programme.

Nick Sandmann (L) and Nathan Phillips were filmed at the Lincoln Memorial
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Nick Sandmann (L) and Nathan Phillips were filmed at the Lincoln Memorial

Asked if he felt he owed anyone an apology or has assumed fault for the clash, he instead blamed a group of black men styling themselves as Hebrew Israelites who were also there.

The men were filmed taunting and insulting both the indigenous people gathered with Mr Phillips and the boys, many of whom, including Sandmann, wore red hats bearing President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“They started shouting a bunch of homophobic, racist, derogatory comments at us. I heard them call us incest kids, bigots, racists. They called us f*****s,” Nick Sandmann said.

The Hebrew Israelites were filmed taunting the boys. Pic: NBC
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The Hebrew Israelites were filmed taunting the boys. Pic: NBC

The Covington Catholic High School students, who were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally, outnumbered their aggressors but the teenager said he “definitely felt threatened.”

Nathan Phillips, a tribal elder, activist and Vietnam War veteran, was singing and playing a drum as he took part in an indigenous people’s march.

He locked eyes with Nick Sandmann while around them some of the teenager’s classmates from the private, all-male school in Kentucky, were seen dancing and jumping around, apparently mocking Mr Phillips.

Donald Trump wearing one of his MAGA hats at a campaign rally
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Donald Trump wearing one of his MAGA hats at a campaign rally

Some were also wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and sweatshirts and one removed his top.

President Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday the White House has “reached out and voiced our support” to Nick Sandmann and his fellow students.

She said no one understands better than Donald Trump when the media jumps to conclusions and “attacks you for something you may or may not have done.”

On Tuesday, Mr Trump defended the students, tweeting that they had been “smeared by the media” and had become “symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be”.

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