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60 killed in Tanzania tanker blast

“We are in a horrible situation as rescuers, including soldiers from Tanzania People’s Defence Force, are at the scene trying to save the lives of the victims,”

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Tanzania Oil Tanker Blast

Dar Es Salaam, Aug 10 (IANS) At least 60 people were killed on Saturday after an overturned petrol tanker exploded in Tanzania’s Morogoro region, said an official.

Seventy others were critically burned as they tried to scoop fuel leaking out of the tanker, said Stephen Kebwe, regional commissioner of Morogoro, 200 km from capital Dar es Salaam.

“We are in a horrible situation as rescuers, including soldiers from Tanzania People’s Defence Force, are at the scene trying to save the lives of the victims,” Kebwe told Xinhua news agency.

The number of deaths could rise as some of the injured were critical, said kebwe.

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Middle East

Russia, Turkey adopt memorandum over situation in Syria

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Sochi, Oct 23 : Russia and Turkey have adopted a joint memorandum on the situation in Syria after the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

According to the memorandum, Moscow and Ankara have agreed to deploy Russian and Syrian forces in the zone of Turkish operation in Syria starting from Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

“Starting 12:00 noon (0900 GMT) of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Units) elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours,” the document published on the Kremlin’s website said.

“At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city,” it added.

Both parties will take the necessary measures to prevent the infiltration of terrorism, the memorandum said.

A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to review and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum, it said.

To achieve “lasting and long-term stabilization in Syria as a whole” is possible only subject to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, Putin stated during the press conference following the talks with Erdogan.

“We share the concern of the Turkish side in connection with the increasing threat of terrorism and the growth of ethno-confessional contradictions in this region. In our opinion, these contradictions and separatist sentiments have been artificially fueled by outsiders recently,” he noted.

Syria must be exempted from an illegal foreign military presence, said Putin.

Erdogan praised the agreement for stopping “the creation of any separatist manifestations” on the Syrian territories.

“Both Turkey and Russia, we will not allow this,” the president said following talks with Putin.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Turkish “Operation Peace Spring” military offensive is being stopped.

“The operation is canceled. Everything will depend on how the agreements are implemented, including on the withdrawal of weapons and the withdrawal of forces and means of the Kurdish units,” Lavrov said in footage published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On October 9, Turkey launched a military offensive dubbed “Operation Peace Spring” in northern Syria bordering southern Turkey in an attempt to fight Kurdish forces, which are deemed by Ankara as separatists and terrorists.

Following the Turkish action, the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria said on October 13 that it had reached an agreement with the Syrian government, backed by Russia, allowing the Syrian army to assume control of some Kurdish-held areas to counter Turkey’s military progress.

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Business

US dollar rises amid falling sterling

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US Dollar

New York, Oct 23 : The US dollar appreciated in late trading amid declining sterling on the backdrop of renewed Brexit fears.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday was defeated in a vote on his Brexit timetable, Xinhua news agency reported.

Just minutes before the vote on the timetable motion, the government’s Brexit bill was backed by a vote of 329 to 299 in the second reading in parliament, clearing its first hurdle. However, the timetable motion was rejected.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Prime Minister told a parliament debate that he will pull the Brexit bill and push for an election if it is voted down by lawmakers.

He had vowed to take his country out of the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal.

The pound and the euro lost some strength amid lingering uncertainty concerning Brexit, experts noted.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, was up 0.20 per cent at 97.5249 in late trading.

In late New York trading, the euro decreased to 1.1123 US dollars from 1.1146 dollars in the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.2882 dollars from 1.2966 dollars in the previous session. The Australian dollar was down to 0.6853 dollar from 0.6864 dollar.

The US dollar bought 108.46 Japanese yen, lower than 108.59 Japanese yen of the previous session. The US dollar rose to 0.9890 Swiss franc from 0.9855 Swiss franc, and it rose to 1.3097 Canadian dollars from 1.3084 Canadian dollars.

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Middle East

Kurdish forces leave Syria border area

The ceasefire, which ends at 10.00 pm local time (7.00 p.m. GMT), was agreed on 17 October between the Turkey and United States Vice President Mike Pence.

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Kurdish forces
Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, assemble outside the town of Bashiqah, some 30 km northeast of Mosul, Iraq, on Nov. 7, 2016.

Beirut, Oct 23 : Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria have withdrawn from the Turkish border area in line with a ceasefire pact drawn up between Turkey and the United States, which is due to expire in a matter of hours.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces have withdrawn from the areas around Ras Al Ain and Tal Abyad,” Mervan Qamishli, a spokesperson for the SDF, told Efe news on Tuesday.

It comes as news emerges from a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi that both nations had agreed to create a so-called safe zone in northern Syria.

From 23 October, Russian military police and Syrian regime border guards would begin to clear the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the 30-kilometer deep buffer zone sought by Ankara within a period of 150 hours.

Joint Turkish-Russian patrols would then begin in the area, apart from in the city of Qamishli, according to a memorandum released after the meeting.

Gains made by Turkish-backed Syrian militias in the border cities of Ras Al Ain and Tal Abyad would also be preserved.

The YPG would be evicted from Manbij and Tal Rifat.

The SDF, predominantly comprised of the YPG, a key US ally in the fight against the Islamic State terror organization in the region, had been facing a Turkish military offensive since American forces withdrew from the area around two weeks ago.

Ankara considers the YPG to be a terror group indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a guerrilla group widely listed as a terror organization that has fought the Turkish state in the country’s predominantly Kurdish east for decades.

Ras Al Ain and Tal Abyad had been two of the key objectives for the Turkish military operation into northern Syria, led on the ground by Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

Putin is one of the main international backerd of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, while Turkey backs rebel groups located in Syria’s northern regions. Both countries, along with Iran, form part of the so-called Astana trio, which aims to find a solution to the Syrian Civil War.

The Turkish government earlier warned it would ramp up its military operation in northern Syria the minute the ceasefire expires if the YPG or the Democratic Union Party (PYD) continued to have a presence in the area.

Ankara wants to carve out a 30-kilometer deep “safe zone” along its border, stretching from the Euphrates to the Iraqi border, partly to create a buffer between it and Kurdish forces but also to settle some of the four million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The ceasefire, which ends at 10.00 pm local time (7.00 p.m. GMT), was agreed on 17 October between the Turkey and United States Vice President Mike Pence.

Kurdish forces in the region said, however, that Turkish-backed Syrian militias had continued military action despite the agreement.

Following the US withdrawal, Kurdish forces turned to the Damascus regime for help.

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