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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But the Baghdad-based official did not give details and it is unclear how many vehicles or troop units had been withdrawn.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It was announced that the 2,000 troops in Syria would be withdrawn over the course of 60 to 100 days, but officials including US national security adviser John Bolton have said the US States will not leave until IS is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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Philadelphia: At least four police officers shot | US News

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At least four police officers have been shot in Philadelphia, officials have said.

A police spokesperson said at least one gunman was shooting at officers in the Nicetown area of the Pennsylvania city.

Footage shows a significant police presence, with dozens of police cars and armed officers.

Temple University tweeted that part of the institute was on lockdown and urged people to avoid the area.

The account posted: “Shots fired reported at 1500 Block Erie Av at Health Sciences Center Campus. Use caution. Avoid the area. Police are responding.”

It added: “Lockdown is in effect for Health Sciences Center Campus. Seek shelter. Secure doors. Be silent. Be still. Police are responding.”

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British mother dies after being strangled and set alight while asleep in Barbados | UK News

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The family of a British mother who was strangled and set alight by an intruder while she lay in bed in Barbados say they are “in a state of shock”.

Natalie Crichlow, 44, was attacked in her disabled brother’s home in Christ Church on 28 July. She was visiting the country to help care for him.

The Luton-born mother of three, who had twice survived cancer and had two strokes in the past decade, died in hospital on 6 August after suffering 75% burns to her body.

A family friend described Ms Crichlow as a 'true warrior'
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A family friend described Ms Crichlow as a ‘true warrior’

Her niece Ashley Best said: “The intruder broke in the house, then strangled her and then set her alight.

“I do not understand why it happened and we are all in a state of shock.

“She went into hospital and died of her injuries.

“For someone who had battled through so much to just be taken in this way and lose their life is just beyond understanding.

“She said she wanted to live life to the fullest because her life had nearly been taken from her.”

No arrests have been made, according to the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Natalie Crichlow was strangled and set alight and later died of her injuries
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Ms Crichlow had three children aged between 10 and 26

Local media outlet Stabroek News said police are looking for a man who “barged into a house, choked a woman, doused her with a flammable substance and then set the house on fire”.

Ms Crichlow has three children aged 10, 20 and 26 years old, who are “devastated” and want to bring her body back to the UK to be buried.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise funds for her repatriation.

Ms Crichlow lived as an openly gay woman and had worked in various jobs including as a make-up artist and door staff.

A family member said they were in a 'state of shock' following Ms Crichlow's death
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A family member said they were in a ‘state of shock’ following Ms Crichlow’s death

Family friend Mitra Wikes said the mother was a “true warrior and survivor who endured so much in life” but had a “true passion for living life to the max”.

Ms Wikes said Ms Crichlow had regularly visited her brother in Barbados after the death of her mother and uncle earlier this year.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our staff are supporting the family of a British woman following her death in Barbados, and are in contact with the Barbados police force.”

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Macy’s tumbles as tourism slump hurts profits | Business News

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Shares in US department store chain Macy’s have plunged after a decline in tourist shoppers helped dent sales and profits, while it also grapples with the prospect of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

Macy’s said it was cutting its full-year earnings forecast after a “slow start” to its latest financial quarter forced it to discount poorly selling lines in women’s sportswear and summer clothes.

Like-for-like sales for the three months to 3 August rose 0.3% compared with the same period a year ago, but net profits were down by 48% to $86m (£79m).

Macy’s added that it was in “active discussions” with suppliers to try to mitigate the impact of new tariffs on Chinese imports to the US due to come into force later this year.

Shares fell 13%, on a day of wider turbulence for US stock markets gripped by recession fears.

The company is America’s biggest department store operator, with a 680-strong network under the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands.

Its flagship Manhattan site is well known to tourists visiting New York and chief executive Jeff Genette cited an “accelerated decline in international tourism” as one of the factors in its sales growth missing expectations.

Overseas visits to the US have been hit by the strength of the dollar over the past year, with trade tensions between Washington and Beijing apparently also dragging on trips by tourists from China.

Ohio-based Macy’s, like other US store operators, has been struggling to adjust to the fast-changing nature of retail over recent years, with many consumers preferring to go online rather than visit a shopping mall.

It has cut more than 100 stores and thousands of jobs since 2015.

The sector is now also facing the challenge posed by Donald Trump’s imposition of 10% tariffs on $300bn (£249bn) worth of Chinese goods from next month.

Mr Trump’s administration announced on Tuesday that it was postponing many of the tariffs until December – with goods such as mobile phones and laptops among those being spared.

But this looked likely to have little benefit for fashion retailers.

Analysis from UBS found that of 789 clothing and footwear categories on the original list of tariffs announced at the start of this month, only 17% would be delayed.

Mr Gennette said he believed 10% tariffs on Chinese imports to be manageable but that it would be harder to maintain pricing if 25% duties were imposed on all remaining imports from China.

“There’s no customer appetite for price increases,” he said.

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