NATION & WORLD NEWS Under Iraqi town, IS militants built network of tunnels
NATION & WORLD NEWS
Under Iraqi town, IS militants built network of tunnels
IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Under the Iraqi town of Sinjar, Islamic State group militants built a network of tunnels, complete with sleeping quarters, wired with electricity and fortified with sandbags. There, they had boxes of U.S.-made ammunition, medicines and copies of the Quran stashed on shelves.
The Associated Press obtained extensive video footage of the tunnels, which were uncovered by Kurdish forces that took the city in northwestern Iraq earlier this month after more than a year of IS rule.
“We found between 30 and 40 tunnels inside Sinjar,” said Shamo Eado, a commander from Sinjar from the Iraqi Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga. “It was like a network inside the city.”
“Daesh dug these trenches in order to hide from airstrikes and have free movement underground as well as to store weapons and explosives,” Eado said using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. “This was their military arsenal.”
The video, shot by a freelancer touring the town with Kurdish fighters, showed two tunnels running several hundred meters (yards), each starting and ending from houses, through holes knocked in walls or floors.
Turkey shoots down Russian jet it says violated its airspace
MOSCOW (AP) — Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday that it said ignored repeated warnings and crossed into its airspace from Syria, killing at least one of the two pilots in a long-feared escalation in tensions between Russia and NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced what he called a “stab in the back” and warned of “significant consequences.”
The shoot down — the first time in half a century that a NATO member has downed a Russian plane — prompted an emergency meeting of the alliance. The incident highlighted the chaotic complexity of Syria’s civil war, where multiple groups with clashing alliances are fighting on the ground and the sky is crowded with aircraft bombing various targets.
“As we have repeatedly made clear we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally, Turkey,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference after the meeting of the alliance’s decision-making North Atlantic Council, called at Turkey’s request.
The pilots of the downed Su-24 ejected, but one was killed by Syrian rebel fire from the ground as he parachuted to Earth, said the Russian general staff, insisting the Russian jet had been in Syrian airspace at the time. One of two helicopters sent to the crash site to search for survivors was also hit by rebel fire, killing one serviceman and forcing the chopper to make an emergency landing, the military said.
Stoltenberg urged “calm and de-escalation” and renewed contacts between Moscow and Ankara. Russia has long been at odds with NATO, which it accuses of encroaching on Russia’s borders, as well as with Turkey’s determination to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.
Trump’s family joins him on South Carolina campaign
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump’s wife campaigned with him for the first time in South Carolina on Tuesday, telling voters she loved them and saying her husband would be “the best president, ever.”
“Isn’t he the best?” Melania Trump asked the crowd of thousands in Myrtle Beach, flanked by her parents and three of the businessman’s children. “We love you.”
Unlike come of his rivals’ spouses, Trump’s wife has until this point chosen to stay largely behind-the-scenes, though Trump mentions her often at events.
Trump’s family left the stage before the Republican presidential hopeful launched into more than an hour of criticism of both his GOP rivals and the Obama administration.
Calling President Barack Obama a “divider” who has done nothing to unite the country, Trump also again called out Hillary Rodham Clinton as lacking the “strength or the stamina” to lead the country. Marco Rubio, he said, is “weak on immigration, really weak.”
Obama and Hollande pledge solidarity against Islamic State
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a show of Western solidarity, President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande vowed Tuesday to escalate airstrikes against the Islamic State and bolster intelligence sharing following the deadly attacks in Paris. They called on Russia to join the international efforts, but only if Moscow ends its support for Syria’s embattled president.
“Russia is the outlier,” Obama said during a joint White House news conference with Hollande.
Tuesday’s meeting came hours after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border. The incident underscored the complex military landscape in Syria, where a sprawling cast of countries and rebel groups are engaged on the battlefield and in the skies overhead, sometimes with minimal coordination.
Obama said Russian cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State would be “enormously helpful.” But he insisted a partnership is impossible as long as Russia stands by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is blamed by the U.S. for plunging his country into chaos and creating the vacuum that allowed the Islamic State group to strengthen.
“We hope that they refocus their attention on what is the most substantial threat, and that they serve as a constructive partner,” Obama said of Russia.
Republican campaign rhetoric has Muslim-Americans on edge
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Muslim-Americans who sued the New York Police Department over a surveillance program launched after 9/11 say calls from the Republican presidential campaign to put them under more scrutiny are recklessly seizing on public fears and distressing Muslims in the U.S.
As national security has become a focus in the 2016 race after the Paris attacks, Donald Trump has declared “we’re being foolish, we’re kidding ourselves” if law enforcement doesn’t keep close surveillance on mosques, and he expressed support for the idea of a database for tracking Muslims in the United States. Another GOP contender, Ben Carson, said mosques, schools, supermarkets, car repair shops and “any place where radicalization is going on” should be monitored.
Such rhetoric is “reckless and ignorant,” said attorney Baher Azmy, who is representing Muslim-Americans who sued the NYPD.