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Middle East

Preparations complete for Syria operation: Turkey

Turkish news channels reported that troops along the Syria border were being reinforced with tanks and armored vehicles on Monday night.

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Donald Trump Recep Tayyip Erdogan
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in Washington D.C., on May 16, 2017. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu/IANS)

Ankara, Oct 8 : Turkey’s Ministry of Defence said all preparations for a military operation against the Syrian Kurdish PYG/YPG forces in northern Syria were complete and the Armed Forces would not tolerate a terror corridor along its border.

“Establishment of a safe zone/a peace corridor is necessary for giving a safe life to Syrians by contributing to the peace and stability of our region,” a statement on the ministry’s Twitter account said on Monday, Efe news reported.

The Hurriyet daily cited a security official as saying: “Preparations are complete including the smallest details.

“Armed Forces are ready to go as soon as the political authority gives the order.”

Turkish news channels reported that troops along the Syria border were being reinforced with tanks and armored vehicles on Monday night.

There were also reports in Turkish media citing local sources in Syria as saying that Turkish military had started shelling YPG positions in northern al-Malikiyah town.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Sunday, with Washington saying Turkey would go ahead with “its long-planned operation into northern Syria.”

The operation would be Turkey’s third big military operation against Kurdish militia groups in northern Syria since 2016.

While Turkey has said it is preparing to go into Syria, the United States has said it will be pulling out troops from the area.

The White House also said that Turkey would now be responsible for all Islamic State fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the so-called caliphate by the United States.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has criticized the operation to which the Turkish army is counting down for being a “secret deal” between Erdogan and Trump.

Since the beginning of the Syria conflict, CHP has been calling on Erdogan’s government to make contact with the regime in Damascus.

There is also opposition to the operation in the Turkish parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP).

HDP spokesperson Saruhan Oluc told Efe: “Going into Syria may be easy but getting out would be very difficult and painful. The operation will not bring tranquility, peace and democracy to this region.”

Middle East

Turkish Court Jails 27 For Life Over 2016 Coup Attempt

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A Turkish court on Thursday jailed 27 former pilots and other suspects for life in one of the largest trials stemming from the bloody 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They were convicted of crimes including murder, trying to overthrow the constitutional order and attempting to assassinate the president, an AFP reporter in the courtroom said.

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Health

Saudi Arabia to make COVID-19 vaccine free for citizens and residents

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

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Saudi King Salman

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry on Monday announced that it would make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all citizens and residents.

“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri, the assistant undersecretary at the ministry.

He, however, added that those below 16 years of age will not be vaccinated unless research proves otherwise.

As per Gulf News, Dr Asiri told Al Ekhbariya that Saudi Arabia will receive vaccines through COVAX facility as well as through companies outside of the consortium.

“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organisation, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing…Saudi Arabia will obtain a large number of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is directly contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Arab News mentioned Asiri as saying.

According to the World Health Organization, “the COVAX facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

The Saudi Health Ministry further expected that by the end of next year, the vaccines would cover 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population.

“One of the most important goals set by the G20 during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is to support all-inclusive and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment tools,” said Dr Abdullah Asiri.

Dr Asiri added that a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution will be ready “in the coming weeks”.

During the two-day G20 summit hosted virtually in Riyadh, Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, on Friday said that his country would be among the first ones to get hold of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Rabeeah added that Saudi Arabia has spent over USD 200 million on COVID-19 vaccine and drug development.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had in March also ordered free coronavirus treatment for all citizens.

Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday announced: “There is now real hope that vaccines, in combination with other tried and tested public health measures, will help to end the pandemic.”

His remarks came after drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective. With this, AstraZeneca has become the third major drug company after Pfizer and Moderna to have reported late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

“The significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated. No vaccines in history have been developed as rapidly as these. The scientific community has set a new standard for vaccine development,” added Tedros.

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India

India To Host G20 Summit In 2023: Grouping’s Declaration

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

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G20 leaders announced on Sunday that India will host the summit of the high-profile grouping in 2023 — a year later than what was decided earlier.

India was earlier slated to host the summit in 2022 with the Osaka declaration of the G20 stating last year that “we look forward to meeting again in Saudi Arabia in 2020, in Italy in 2021 and in India in 2022”.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for hosting a successful Riyadh Summit and its contribution to the G20 process. We look forward to our next meetings in Italy in 2021, Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024,” the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration said.

On India now hosting the summit in 2023, a source said, “The order of the rotating presidency is decided among member states on the basis of consultations and mutual convenience.”

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

In a statement on the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was decided that the G20 presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.

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