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Syria: IS fighters escape from jail as 130,000 people flee Turkish forces | World News



Islamic State (IS) fighters have fled a Syrian prison and more than 700 IS family members escaped a camp during a Turkish offensive – as the UN said more than 130,000 Kurds have been displaced.

The terror group said it was behind a car bombing on Friday in Qamishli, the largest city in Kurdish-held northern Syria, which allowed some of the thousands of IS fighters held in Syria to escape.

On Sunday, about 100 women and children affiliated with IS escaped the Ain Issa camp guarded by Kurdish-led forces after it was shelled by Turkish forces and their allies, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

Their escape came as the UN said more than 130,000 people have been displaced from the region in the four days since Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies started the offensive.

More than 130,000 have been forced to flee their homes in northern Syria

More than 30,000 people were forced out of their homes on Sunday after Turkey seized large parts of the town of Suluk, following the capture of the border towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain.

Turkey said it plans to continue the offensive for a further nine days.

The SOHR said 104 Kurdish-led fighters have been killed in the fighting, while 49 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have died and 30 civilians have been killed in Syria.

In Turkey, 18 civilians have been killed in cross-border bombardment, Turkish media and officials say.

urkish forces intensify bombardment around Syrian town of Ras Al Ain

Turkish forces intensify bombardment around Syrian town of Ras Al Ayn.

As Turkish forces advanced into the area, video released by Kurdish supporters, seen by Sky News, showed two prisoners being executed by the side of a road by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

The unverified images showed the rebels stamping on a Kurdish flag and using a rifle butt to deface a picture of their leader.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels carry a wounded fighter as they fought Syrian Kurds in the border town of Tal Abyad
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels carry a wounded fighter as they fought Syrian Kurds in the border town of Tal Abyad

Sky News foreign affairs editor Deborah Haynes, who is on the Turkey-Syria border, said: “If these images are found to be true, they show an undisciplined force.

“It is further evidence of the real ethnic dangers of releasing this in a country that is so unstable.

“It raises questions of ethnic cleansing – that Kurdish families could be indiscriminately targeted.”

Turkey is facing fierce international opposition after its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched the offensive when US president Donald Trump announced he was pulling US troops out of northern Syria.

Mr Trump has defended his decision, which left its Kurdish allies, the Syrian Defence Force, at risk because Turkey views them as a terrorist threat due to their link to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), deemed a terror group by Turkey.

At a rally on Saturday Mr Trump said the US cannot fight “endless wars” and announced the it has sent $50m (£39.5m) in emergency aid for Syria to support Christians and other religious minorities there.

Turkish soldiers carry the coffin of Turkish infantry soldier Ahmet Topcu in Ankara, after he was killed fighting the YPG in Syria on Friday
Turkish soldiers carry the coffin of infantry soldier Ahmet Topcu in Ankara, after he was killed fighting the YPG in Syria on Friday

The US has threatened Turkey with sanctions unless it calls off the incursion.

In the UK, Boris Johnson expressed “grave concern” about the offensive as he urged President Erdogan to end the operation during a phone call on Saturday evening.

France and Germany announced they would stop selling weapons to Turkey that could be used in the conflict.

An explosion is seen over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar
An explosion over the Syrian town of Ras al Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar

The humanitarian situation has escalated dramatically since Turkey launched the offensive, but the International Rescue Committee warned it could get “more dire” as Turkey advances further into the region.

Misty Buswell, IRC’s policy director, told Sky News: “These towns, Ras al Ain and Tal Abyad, have become basically empty of people.

“Everyone has left, they’re moving into areas that are already overstretched and under Islamic State for four years previous to this.

“People are really suffering and now they’re seeing mass displacement into areas that were just beginning to recover.”

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She added hospitals in the most impacted areas have been forced to close and those that remain open are becoming overwhelmed.

A water station which provides water for drinking and washing to up to 400,000 people in the area was hit by Turkish government forces, prompting fears of disease spreading as people resort to unclean sources.

Mr Erdogan says the military action is necessary for national security, saying on Saturday: “We will never stop this step we have taken… We will not stop it no matter what anyone says.”

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Coronavirus: Britain beware – Israel living the consequences of trying to return to normal | World News



I live in Israel.

It is a country praised for the way it handled the coronavirus outbreak in March. There was clear guidance and a swift, hard, lockdown.

But it is now a place living the consequences of trying to return to normal.

People wear masks on a train in central Jerusalem
People wearing masks on a train in central Jerusalem

In the UK, Boris Johnson says “we are very much through the worst” of the pandemic.

While we all dearly hope he is right, there are salutary lessons to learn by looking at the experiences of others battling this global virus.

Is Israel’s curve on the graph a warning for us all? Cases here are now at their highest-ever level.

It’s just over a month since Israelis were allowed back to bars, restaurants, beaches and shops.

I remember the euphoria clearly, and I shared it.

Our favourite restaurants were open once again and the beach our kids love was accessible at last.

Friends back in the UK were envious of our freedom: “You’re going camping?!”

I remember too the mixed emotions as I drove down a packed Tel Aviv promenade. It was great to see so many people out again. Normality. But what would this mean for the virus? Its habitat had returned.

Restaurants have opened in Jerusalem using social distancing measures

How to social distance in a cafe

There were regulations in an attempt to block the virus. Masks were made mandatory in all public places: inside and out. The washing of hands, the two-metre rule and restrictions for large gatherings were all central to the Israeli armour.

On the morning bars and cafes were allowed to reopen we visited a Jerusalem coffee shop and were impressed by the way they were sticking to the regulations.

But as the days passed, human nature set in. Masks were routinely round the chin, not the face. Two metres quickly turned into one, then half. And as the weather turned hotter, the beaches became even more crowded.

We’ve already seen the images of packed English beaches. This weekend’s images of pints being pulled in packed pubs will for many be very comforting; normality returning.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - APRIL 19: Israelis light flash lights as they protest at a rally in Rabin Square on April 19, 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Thousands of Israelis gather at an Anti-Corruption rally under coronavirus restrictions, decrying proposed unity government talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israeli protesters follow strict social distancing

But beware, the UK is a few weeks behind Israel. At the beginning of this week, Israel (a country of only 8.6m people) had 450 new cases.

By Thursday night it was recording 1,000 new cases – the most it has ever recorded in a single day. The peak now is higher than the first one.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement to the nation on Thursday evening was blunt.

“Citizens of Israel, the corona crisis is continuing to hit the world,” he said.

“There were those here who took this lightly. They said that the virus would go away on its own, but it has not gone away. They said, ‘In summer, the heat will eliminate the virus’. However, reality has proven this assumption to be baseless. Summer is here and so is the virus in a big way, unfortunately.”

In the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, a full five-day total lockdown has now been re-imposed.

Across Israel, new local lockdowns are being put in place.

As I write, most cases are mild but serious cases seem to be doubling every few days. Hospital overload is the fear.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the virus ‘has not gone away’

Mr Netanyahu said: “I want to tell you, citizens of Israel: The easiest thing to do would be to leave the situation as is, everything open, everyone apparently satisfied, but if we do this, we will very quickly lose control because the rate is exponential, geometric.

“What seems to you reasonable now would become thousands and tens of thousands of new cases. We cannot go there. If we do not take action, in another week we will have a record number of cases that includes more and more severe cases – and I do not want to reach the same hermetic shutdown that we were in.”

As countries globally tackle their own crises and prepare their own responses, the tendency is to look only inward and not around us.

But this is a global crisis. We are all in it together. There is huge benefit, surely, in sharing our experiences and learning from others.

In Israel, the lockdown was rightly lifted. But then the armour against the virus fell away fast: the masks slipped down, the distancing got smaller, the gatherings grew larger.

We are suffering the consequences now.

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Carbon monoxide ‘likely’ to have affected New Year’s Eve crash pilot | World News



A pilot whose seaplane crashed in 2017 killing five Britons is likely to have had his ability to fly impaired by carbon monoxide, according to investigators.

British businessman Richard Cousins, the chief executive of the world’s largest contract catering company Compass, was killed along with his two sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, his fiancee Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter Heather, during a New Year’s Eve sightseeing trip near Sydney which ended in tragedy.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, piloted by Canadian Gareth Morgan, who also died, plunged into the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay, 25 miles north of Sydney, after picking the family group up from an exclusive restaurant.

Richard Cousins, Will Cousins, Ed Cousins, Emma and Heather Bowden
Richard Cousins (top left), Edward Cousins (top right), Will Cousins (bottom left) and Emma and Heather Bowden

Releasing an update on the investigation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said blood tests indicated the pilot and two of the passengers had elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

The bureau’s chief commissioner Greg Hood said: “From … consultation with medical experts, and research into the effects of carbon monoxide on aircraft operations, the ATSB considers the levels of carbon monoxide were likely to have adversely affected the pilot’s ability to control the aircraft.”

A preliminary report from 2018 said the plane came down away from the expected and standard flight path, crashing in a near-vertical position.

At the time, Aaron Shaw, chief executive of operator Sydney Seaplanes, said the aircraft “simply should not have been where it was” and that the manoeuvres prior to the crash were “inexplicable”.

As part of the ATSB investigation, the aircraft has been examined and there have been attempts to replicate the potential source of carbon monoxide and its entry into the aircraft cabin.

They found pre-existing cracking of part of the engine exhaust, which could lead to leakage into the engine bay.

Mr Hood added: “This investigation is ongoing, and our final report, which will contain specific findings, is anticipated to be released in coming months, so we are limited in discussing specific details.

“However, if at any time during an investigation, should the ATSB identify issues that are critical to safety, we will immediately notify relevant stakeholders so proactive safety action can be taken to help prevent similar occurrences.”

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France: Jean Castex named new prime minister as Emmanuel Macron seeks to win back voters | World News



France’s new prime minister has been named as Jean Castex following the resignation of Edouard Philippe, triggering a government reshuffle.

Speculation had been growing that a shake-up at the Elysee Palace was imminent – with French President Emmanuel Macron seeking to boost his green credentials and win back disillusioned voters.

Mr Philippe had actually seen his popularity increase significantly in recent weeks – despite French authorities facing criticism over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Edouard Philippe
Edouard Philippe had served as prime minister since 2017

Nonetheless, rumours over his future had swirled since mid-June, when Mr Macron declared he wanted to “reinvent” his presidency.

In French government reshuffles, the prime minister tenders his or her resignation ahead of cabinet appointments, but can still be renamed to the position.

However, the Elysee Palace has announced the relatively low-profile Mr Castex, who coordinated France‘s COVID-19 reopening strategy, as the new officer-holder.

It will be a big political gamble for Mr Macron to replace Mr Philippe, who is more popular with the public than the

More from Emmanuel Macron

His resignation could create a potential rival for Mr Macron, who is seeking to be re-elected in 2022.

Mr Macron has paid tribute to Mr Phillippe’s “outstanding work” in the past three years.

Mr Macron's party was defeated in major cities during Sunday's local election
Mr Macron’s party was defeated in major cities during Sunday’s local election

The president is seeking to open a new chapter for the two remaining years of his term that will focus on efforts to relaunch the French economy deeply hit by COVID-19.

In local elections on Sunday, Mr Macron’s young centrist party faced defeat in France’s biggest cities as a green wave swept over the country.

In an interview given to several local newspapers on Thursday, Mr Macron, said he was seeking a “new path” to rebuild the country during the rest of his term.

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