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  • Erdogan says 3m refugees could be returned from Turkey to Syria ‘safe zone’

    Up to three million Syrian refugees could be returned to a “safe zone” that Turkey is seeking to establish in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

    Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees. Working with the US, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria, in part to push Kurdish rebels away from its border. For Ankara, a key priority is curbing the influence of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as an off-shoot of the Kurdish separatists in its own territory.

    If successful, “we will be able to house, depending on the depth of the safe zone, between two and three million Syrian refugees that are currently in Turkey and Europe,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.

    Earlier this week, Erdogan said that he envisions the “peace corridor” as stretching right across northern Syria all the way to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, AFP reported.

  • Germany extends anti-ISIS mission in Iraq by 1 year

    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has approved extending Germany’s military participation in the international coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

    The government extended the Bundeswehr’s training of local Iraqi forces until October 31, 2020, Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Wednesday.

    The Jordan-based Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and German refueling aircraft for anti-IS missions will continue to operate through March 31 next year.

    The international coalition’s work has been “bearing fruit” with the terrorist group’s widespread defeat in Iraq, according to  Demmer. The mission caps German military participation at 700 troops.

  • Pakistani PM Khan to urge Trump to restart Afghan peace talks with Taliban

    Pakistani PM Imran Khan said on Wednesday that he would urge US President Donald Trump next week to revive Afghanistan peace talks with the Taliban militant group, Reuters reports. Trump abruptly canceled secret talks with the Taliban that were planned for September 8.

    “It will be a big tragedy if these talks don’t make headway,” Khan said at a ceremony at Pakistan’s Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan. Khan will meet Trump in New York on Monday, and will emphasize that there had been “destruction and chaos in Afghanistan for the last 40 years.”

    “We will put our best [effort] that these talks are resumed again,” the PM said, adding that his next role would have been to convince the Taliban to open talks with the Afghan government. Khan is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly while in New York.

    The PM also said there was “no chance of talks” with India about its clampdown on the disputed territory of Kashmir until it lifted a curfew for people there.

  • Over 160 N. Korean crewmembers from poaching vessels detained in Sea of Japan – FSB

    Russian border guards have detained over 160 North Korean crewmembers from two poaching vessels in the Sea of Japan, the public relations center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Wednesday. Some of the detained are injured, TASS reported.

    As a result of coordinated action by coastguard, aviation, and special purpose units, border guards detained 161 North Korean citizens, along with 2 schooners, and 11 motorboats, the center said. It added that several injured foreigners have been given medical assistance.

    “Prohibited fishing gear as well as illegally obtained marine resources” have been seized, according to the statement. “The offenders are being delivered to the port of Nakhodka for further action and procedural decision,” it added.

    The FSB said earlier that two North Korean schooners and 11 motorboats were poaching in the Russian exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan. One of the ships reportedly attacked the patrol group, and four officers were injured, including one with a gunshot wound.

  • Sudan’s new PM Hamdok in Egypt to meet with Sisi

    Sudan’s newly appointed prime minister has arrived in Egypt for the first leg of his tour that will take him to France before heading to the UN General Assembly.

    Abdalla Hamdok was received on Wednesday by Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly. Hamdok will also meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    He will discuss bilateral relations after years of sporadic tensions during the rule of former President Omar al-Bashir. The military ousted al-Bashir in April amid months of protests against his three-decade rule.

    Ties between the two states were for years frayed by repeated failures to reach a deal over an upstream Nile dam being built by Ethiopia, and the revival of a longstanding dispute over a border territory held by Cairo and claimed by Khartoum, AP said.

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry slams India over Kashmir remarks

    Islamabad fired back on Wednesday at New Delhi’s “jingoistic rhetoric” after India’s foreign minister vowed to retake Pakistan’s portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

    “We strongly condemn and reject the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian external affairs minister,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said, according to AFP. “Such irresponsible and belligerent statements have the potential to further escalate tensions and seriously jeopardize peace and security in the region.”

    The statement came hours after Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a press conference on Tuesday that Pakistani-controlled Kashmir is “part of India and we expect one day that we will have the… physical jurisdiction over it.”