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Turkey Syria offensive: What did the Kurds ever do for the US?

Even by President Trump's own remarkable standards, his off-the-cuff remark that the US alliance with the Kurds is of little importance because they were not at Normandy - they did not fight with the US and its allies in World War Two - is extraordinary.

It is much more recent history that matters in Syria and there, the Kurds have proved Washington's closest and most effective partner.

The US approached the Syrian civil war with caution. Though opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, its chief concern was that the chaos there provided ungoverned space for the expansion of the so-called caliphate of Islamic State (IS).

All sorts of players including the Turks, the Gulf Arab States and so on pitched in with assistance to various rebel groupings in the hope of removing the Assad regime.

But with its own focus firmly on counter-terrorism rather than re-making Syria, the US sought to find elements on the ground who could mount a serious challenge to the fighters of IS. Various abortive attempts at arming and training local militias failed - in some cases US weapons were simply handed over to IS.

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Finally Washington turned to the Kurds. This was always going to present diplomatic problems. There are significant Kurdish populations in several Middle Eastern countries, including Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Many aspire to Kurdish nationhood.

Indeed in Turkey, a separatist Kurdish movement known as the Kurdistan Workers Party or the PKK waged a long-running campaign against the Turkish state. Both the US and the Turkish authorities regard the PKK as simply terrorists.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50000646


Typhoon Hagibis: Biggest Japan storm in decades makes landfall

As least five people are reported dead and others are missing as Japan endures what could be its worst storm for 60 years.

The eye of Typhoon Hagibis made landfall shortly before 19:00 local time (10:00 GMT), in Izu Peninsula, south-west of Tokyo.

It is now moving up the eastern coast of Japan's main island, with wind speeds of 225km/h (140mph).

More than 270,000 homes have lost power, Japanese outlet NHK reports.

Kyodo News agency said five deaths had been confirmed in different areas.

Two people died after homes were swept away by landslides - a man in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, and a woman in Sagamihara near Tokyo.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-50020108