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‘US troops withdrawing from Syria to western Iraq’

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US troops from Syria

Washington, Oct 21 : US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said roughly 1,000 US troops withdrawing from the northeastern Syria will be repositioned into western Iraq, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.

“The US withdrawal continues apace from northeast Syria. Again, we’re talking weeks not days. We want to be very deliberate and very safe as we go about it,” Esper told reporters on Saturday en route to Afghanistan, according to the transcript released on Sunday.

According to Xinhua news agency, based on the “current game plan,” those forces, which are about 1,000, will be repositioned into western Iraq to help defend the war-torn country and perform a counter-the Islamic State (IS) mission, the Pentagon chief added.

The United States has been withdrawing around 1,000 US troops from northern Syria amid Turkey’s military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria launched about two weeks ago.

US President Donald Trump said last week that the US troops leaving Syria will remain in the Middle East region to “monitor the situation,” while a small number of US forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to counter the remnants of the IS.

The United States and Turkey reached an agreement on Thursday over a five-day truce in northern Syria.

According to the pact, Washington will help facilitate an “orderly withdrawal” of Kurdish-led troops from what Ankara has termed as a “safe zone” on the Syrian-Turkish border.

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Middle East

Gandhigiri by Iranian protesters gets Twitterati praise

One user posted a throwback picture with protesters putting flower stems in gun barrels of troops and wrote: “#flowerpower #bernieboston march on the #pentagon #WashingtonDC”.

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Mahatma Gandhi laughing

New Delhi, Nov 20 : A section of Iranians protesting against a sharp rise in petrol prices in their country embraced Gandhigiri to hand out flowers to troops deployed to control them, evoking support and praise from Twitterati.

Amid an Internet shutdown, Twitterati posted several clippings of protesters distributing flowers to security personnel in an Iranian city.

A user remarked: “Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi”.

With a hashtag IranProtests, a user posted a clipping and wrote: “History has repeated itself. In the runup to the 1979 revolution, protesters handed out flowers to the police. In this video, protesters in Shiraz are handing out flowers to the riot police”.

Another user wrote: “Protesters giving flowers to the police saying “We are not the enemy”, in Shiraz.”

A user wrote: “Fight hate with Love!!! I love it!!”

“To stand in the face of terror with love and to try to bring civility to the chaos, is an act of true bravery. Sadly, people will lose their lives in this battle as history has shown us over & over. But goodness will prevail. Hoping for sooner than later”, wrote a user.

A user posted a clipping of a burning vehicle along with a remark: “Yes but then they opened fire on protesters.”

One user posted a throwback picture with protesters putting flower stems in gun barrels of troops and wrote: “#flowerpower #bernieboston march on the #pentagon #WashingtonDC”.

“Protesters in India should check this out”, wrote a user.

One was clearly reminded of a Sanjay Dutt-starrer movie. He wrote: “Munna bhai MBBS style”.

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Middle East

Turkey threatens to “look elsewhere” if F-35 dispute continues

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara, Nov 20 : If the US stance on delivery of F-35 fighter jets does not change, Turkey would be forced to “look elsewhere” to meet its defense necessities, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

“If the current disagreement on F-35 fighter jets continues, Turkey must look elsewhere to meet its medium-term needs,” Erdogan said while addressing his party members at the parliament on Tuesday.

The Turkish president was referring to his meeting last week with US President Donald Trump in Washington.

Turkey would not step back from its deployment of the Russian S-400 air defense systems, Erdogan said.

“There are efforts to turn the S-400s into a key problem of the bilateral matters. We have agreed (with Trump) to seek ways to resolve the S-400 issue through our officials we have instructed,” he stated.

Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems prompted the Trump administration to suspend Ankara from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.

Russia has expressed its readiness for a potential agreement with Turkey on the sale of Russian Su-35 or Su-57 aircraft.

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Middle East

Protests erupt in Iran over fuel price hike

Retaliating to Rouhani’s remark, the protesters shouted: “Gasoline price increased, making the impoverished poorer.”

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Protest over Iran Fuel Price

Tehran, Nov 16 : Protests have erupted across Iran after the country began rationing on the purchase of gasoline and substantially increased the price of fuel in a move aimed at assisting the needy, media reports said.

The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) said in a statement late Thursday that the price of a litre of regular gasoline had gone up to 15,000 rials (12.7 US cents) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each private automobile was set at 60 litres per month, the Tehran-based Press TV said in a report.

Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per litre.

The NIOPDC added that taxis and ambulances would have a 400-litre and 500-litre monthly quota, respectively. The price of CNG and gas oil will remain unchanged.

Addressing the nation on Friday, President Hassan Rouhani said the government had no intention to receive any portion of the hike despite the economic woes in the country.

He added that the government’s move to increase the gasoline prices would be beneficial to the Iranian people, particularly those who are going through economic hardships.

The sudden decision almost immediately triggered a series of angry protests mainly in the oil-rich Khuzestan region and the country’s second-largest city of Mashhad, the Persian-language Radio Farda reported.

Angry protesters in Ahvaz, the capital city of Khuzestan, as well as in Behbahan, Mahshahr, and Omidiyeh chanted slogans against President Hassan Rouhani and his administration.

Retaliating to Rouhani’s remark, the protesters shouted: “Gasoline price increased, making the impoverished poorer.”

Meanwhile, the citizens of Ahvaz called upon each other to turn off the engines and stop buying gasoline.

Furthermore, the city of Gachsaran in Kohgiluyeh and the Boyer-Ahmad province also witnessed widespread protests.

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