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Airstrikes as Turkey begins military operation in northern Syria | World News

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Turkey has launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after US forces began withdrawing from the region.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the campaign, which followed Donald Trump’s decision on Sunday to alter US policy.

“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” Mr Erdogan said in a tweet.

Explosions rock Syria's Tel Abyad. Pic: Haberturk
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An airstrike hits the town of Tal Abyad just across the border with Turkey. Pic: Haberturk

He added that Turkish armed forces, together with the Syrian National Army, had launched what they called Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish fighters.

“We will protect the territorial integrity of Syria and free the people of the region from the clutches of terror.”

TV reports in Turkey said airstrikes hit the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said Turkish warplanes were targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria, causing “a huge panic” in the region.

Other reports suggested mortar shells had been fired into Turkey from the Syrian side of the border.

There has been no independent confirmation of these claims.

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NATO’s secretary general has urged Turkey not to “further destabilise the region”.

Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey “has legitimate security concerns” having suffered “horrendous terrorist attacks” and hosting thousands of refugees, but that it should act with “restraint” and any action should be “proportionate”.

And France, Britain and Germany are preparing a joint statement to condemn the offensive while the UN Security Council will meet on Thursday.

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Turkey has proposed a safe zone, but the Kurdish-led Syrian Defence Force believe it will turn into a crisis zone
Streams of Turkish army vehicles arrived at the border on Tuesday
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Streams of Turkish army vehicles arrived at the border on Tuesday

The Syrian Kurdish forces were long-time US allies in the fight against the so-called Islamic State group.

But expectations of an invasion increased after Mr Trump’s announcement on Sunday, although he also threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.

Mr Trump’s move has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats at home as well as allies including France and Britain.

However, he defended it saying he is focused on the “BIG PICTURE” that does not include American involvement in “stupid endless wars” in the Middle East.

“Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” Mr Trump said in a series of tweets.

“The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

Turkey has been massing troops for days along its border and vowed it would go ahead with the military operation and not bow to the US threat.

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Qantas flight evacuated using slides as cabin starts to fill up with smoke | World News

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Passengers on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth evacuated using slides after the Airbus A330 was forced to return as the cabin filled with smoke.

The airline said Flight 575 returned to Sydney shortly after take-off because of a hydraulic problem.

In a statement, Qantas said: “Once back at the gate, the captain made the decision to evacuate the aircraft as a precaution and three emergency slides were deployed.

“Passengers were evacuated through both the slides and normal exits.”

One passenger, Ally Kemp, said on Twitter that the experience was “terrifying”, adding: “Just had to evacuate my flight to Perth after engineering issues. Everyone had to exit the plane via slide onto Sydney tarmac after the cabin filled with smoke and the captain screamed evacuate.”

Another passenger Niamh Champion, describing the moment everyone realised something was wrong, said: “They came and got us to the gate and everything was fine. And next thing he (pilot) goes, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate, like in a calm but firm, loud voice.

“And so instantly everyone jumps off and they’re thinking, Oh my God. I thought there was smoke, or a fire or, you know, something was happening, and I was relatively close to the back of the plane.

“The hostess opened the door, bang, the chute comes down and everyone starts rushing into the aisle.”

Ms Champion said she had to jump out before her two young children followed her.

Debbie Slade, the Qantas fleet safety captain, said that once the plane was on the ground, it was towed to the gate.

She added: “And once they’re at the gate, I believe there was some indications of a mist inside the cabin. So the crew took the conservative option and agreed to evacuate the aircraft.”

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New York: Mum whose baby was ripped from her arms by police wins $625k settlement | US News

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A woman whose one-year-old child was wrenched from her arms by officers in New York City is to receive a cash settlement from the city.

A video showing Ms Headley lying on the floor as officers attempt to wrestle the child from her arms went viral in December 2018, prompting a police investigation.

Jazmine Headley is set to receive £470,000 ($625,000) after filing a lawsuit in federal court in August over the incident last year, according to TV station WNBC.

New York officers yank child from mother's arms in shocking video. Credit: Nyashia Ferguson
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Authorities admit Ms Headley wasn’t treated with dignity and respect. Credit: Nyashia Ferguson

Ms Headley was holding her child while at a social services office in Brooklyn on 7 December last year, while inquiring about her child care benefits, her lawsuit says.

She was sitting on the floor in a crowded waiting room, the suit says, when officers at the agency demanded she leave. She responded that she wanted to see a supervisor.

Video of the incident taken by a bystander and posted on social media shows Ms Headley on the floor on her back with several officers surrounding her as one tried to rip her child from her arms.

She can be heard saying: “They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son.”

The scene quickly escalated as bystanders surrounded the chaos and shouted over each other. One person is heard saying, “Oh my God! Look what they’re doing to her.”

At one point, an officer pulls out a yellow stun gun and points it at people in the angry crowd.

Officers for the city’s social services agency were the first to respond to Ms Headley, the New York Police Department said shortly after the incident. NYPD officers acted in support.

New York officers yank child from mother's arms in shocking video. Credit: Nyashia Ferguson
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Authorities admit Ms Headley wasn’t treated with dignity and respect. Credit: Nyashia Ferguson

Immediately after the altercation, Ms Headley faced possible charges for resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass – but all charges were eventually dropped.

“Headley had been humiliated, assaulted, physically injured, threatened with a Taser, brutally separated from her son, handcuffed, arrested, and jailed-all by employees of the City of New York,” her lawsuit claims.

Her son, who was still breastfeeding at the time, “had been brutally wrenched from his mother’s arms, taken by strangers to a police precinct, and released to spend the night without his mother for the first time in his life”, according to the lawsuit.

Days after the incident, Mayor Bill de Blasio apologised to her publicly.

De Blasio’s spokeswoman, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, said in a statement on Friday that the city failed to treat Ms Headley with dignity and respect, WNBC reported.

“While this injustice should have never happened, it forced a reckoning with how we treat our most vulnerable,” Lapeyrolerie said.

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Lesbian kiss row: Wedding-planning site hits out at Hallmark for pulling adverts | Ents & Arts News

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A wedding planning website has refused to advertise on the Hallmark Channel again after it scrapped commercials featuring two brides kissing at the altar.

The network removed the adverts following a complaint by One Million Moms – a conservative group linked with the American Family Association.

Zola had submitted six adverts, four of which featured a lesbian couple.

After Hallmark axed those, but not the two featuring only opposite-sex couples, Zola pulled its remaining adverts.

“The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” said Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer.

“All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark,” he said.

The decision was also met with anger by a number of US celebrities.

Ellen DeGeneres asked Hallmark: “Isn’t it almost 2020? What are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”

Ellen DeGeneres also defended the royal couple
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Ellen DeGeneres questioned the decision

Actress Sandra Bernhard, who played one of the first openly bisexual characters on network TV in Roseanne also criticised Hallmark’s decision.

“All the groovy gay ladies i know won’t be watching your Christmas schlock,” she wrote on Twitter, addressing Hallmark.

“They’ll be out celebrating with their “families”, wives, children, friends on & on & getting married in chic ensembles. Didn’t you all get the memo? Family is all inclusive.”

In one of the adverts for Zola, two brides stand at the altar and discuss whether their wedding would go more smoothly if they had used a planning site before sharing a kiss.

Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.

“The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it… we just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”

Ms Biwer said One Million Moms had complained about the adverts to Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company.

A post on the group’s website said that Mr Abbott “reported the advertisement aired in error”.

The group also wrote: “The call to our office gave us the opportunity to confirm the Hallmark Channel will continue to be a safe and family-friendly network.”

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