Washington, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump warned Sunday that if Turkey attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the United States will "devastate Turkey economically."
Trump's decision to pull American troops out of Syria has left the United States' Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey.
In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to "provoke Turkey."
The U.S. withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, U.S. defense officials said. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House says it will keep pressure on the IS network.
Once the troops are gone, the U.S. will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal the militants, also known as ISIS, a lasting defeat.
"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions," Trump tweeted. "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds."
Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked U.S. allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the decision a "betrayal of our Kurdish partners."
New York, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) -A winter storm that contributed to at least five deaths in the Midwest pummeled the mid-Atlantic region for a second day Sunday, bringing with it an icy mix that knocked out power, cancelled flights and contributed to hundreds of car accidents.
Virginia State Police said the driver of a military surplus vehicle was killed late Saturday after he lost control on Interstate 81 because of slick road conditions.
Police said Ronald W. Harris, 73, of Gainesville, Georgia, died after his vehicle was struck by two tractor-trailers. The two tractor-trailer drivers were taken to a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening. The state medical examiner determined Sunday that Harris' death was storm-related, police said.
Virginia State Police said they responded to more than 300 traffic crashes and helped nearly 200 disabled vehicles in Virginia from midnight to late Sunday afternoon.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 200,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina at its height Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us.
In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Sunday to help utility crews restore electricity more quickly after power lines fell because of freezing rain, ice and toppled trees. The state's western mountains and foothills were hardest-hit along with the western Piedmont region and nearly 1,000 state transportation workers were called out to clear ice and snow.
The National Weather Service reported nearly a half-inch of ice in some sections of western North Carolina, leading to fallen trees and power lines but other areas of the state got mostly a cold rain or freezing precipitation.
Meanwhile, the storm caused headaches for travelers into and out of airports in the region, including more than 250 flight cancellations Sunday at the three main airports serving the nation's capital. Washington's Dulles International Airport tweeted that the Federal Aviation Administration had implemented a ground stop there on Sunday evening, impacting both inbound and outbound flights.
For air travelers, the Dullest airport authority subsequently tweeted tips for flying on a snow day, including frequently checking for airline flight changes and packing "patience, a good dose of snow humor & a packet of hot chocolate."
By late Sunday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. metro area, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland had total snowfall accumulations ranging from five to eight inches (12-20 centimeters). Central Virginia, including Richmond, had much smaller accumulations — as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters)— but the snow was followed by hours of sleet and freezing rain.
Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said parts of the region could expect snow to continue falling into Sunday evening.
"At this point, it is just going to head out to sea once it exits here this evening," Chenard said.
Most public school systems in northern Virginia and Prince George's County schools in suburban Maryland said classes would be cancelled Monday.
The storm also was affected parts of Maryland. In Baltimore, a man was fatally shot as he shoveled snow early Sunday morning. Police said a 43-year-old man was outside shoveling at 4:40 a.m. when an unidentified suspect shot him in the head and shoulder. The victim died at a hospital.
Meanwhile, Illinois was trying to dig out from under heavy snowfall in some areas.
Springfield's State Journal-Register reports the state capital broke a 55-year record for daily snowfall on Saturday. It cited the National Weather Service as saying the 8.4 inches (21.3 centimeters) of snow that day in Springfield broke the previous record for a Jan. 12 in 1964 of 6.6 inches (16.7 centimeters). Some 11.5 inches (29 centimeters) of snow fell on Springfield over three days.
Among those killed in the Midwest during the storm was an Illinois state trooper struck by a car when he responded to a three-vehicle crash Saturday in suburban Chicago.
State Police Director Leo Schmitz told reporters that 34-year-old Christopher Lambert was headed home when he pulled over and got out of his squad car to respond to the accident. Schmitz said Lambert positioned his squad car to protect the other three cars and "took on the danger himself."
For Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Jeff Allen, there was a bright spot hen a Good Samaritan helped pull his vehicle out of the snow after he got stuck en route to Arrowhead Stadium for the divisional playoff game Saturday.
Allen said he made it on time for the Chiefs' victory over the Indianapolis Colts because of the assistance. The man who helped Allen didn't know he was a Chiefs player at the time.
Allen turned to Twitter to track down the Good Samaritan. When they connected Sunday morning, Allen thanked him and promised him tickets to next week's AFC Championship game.
New York, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is close to President Donald Trump, says he's been pushing the president to reopen the government for a few weeks to continue negotiating with Democrats over funding for a border wall before bypassing Congress and declaring a national emergency.
"If we can't (get a deal) at the end of three weeks, all bets are off," Graham told "Fox News Sunday."
Canadian air traffic controllers are buying pizzas for their American counterparts in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Anchorage, Alaska, as a show of support. Some 10,000 air traffic controllers in the U.S. have been working without pay since Dec. 22.
A terminal at Miami International Airport is set to reopen Monday after being closed at times over the weekend due to a shutdown-induced staff shortage. Transportation Security Administration agents have been calling out sick to protest not being paid for their work.
Quotes of the day
"It's one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget. If we cannot do this together, what else can we not do in the future? This is not that big of a problem." — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California to CBS' "Face the Nation" on the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
"I think it ends when the Senate Republicans say we've had enough. We're not going to stand here and be blamed for this. We believe the government should be opened. There should be timely negotiations on border security after the government is open." — Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to ABC's "This Week."
What's coming next?
Congress returns on Monday. Will the shutdown end this week?
Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau on Monday. Farmers have supported Trump through a trade war with China that cost them billions, but they are complaining about the loss of loans, payments and other agricultural services because of the shutdown.
Trump is expected to sign legislation this week authorizing back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who either have been idled or are working without pay for as long as the shutdown lasts.
What remains closed
Nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments have not been funded, including Agriculture , Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Interior and Justice. Some iconic National Park facilities are shuttered as are the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington. Nearly everyone at NASA is being told to stay home, as are most at the Internal Revenue Service, which processes tax returns and issues refunds, though the administration says it will issue refunds during the shutdown.
Who is at work but not getting paid
Some 420,000 federal employees whose work is declared essential are working without pay, including the FBI, TSA and other federal law enforcement officers. Some staff at the State and Homeland Security departments are also working without compensation.
Jerusalem, Jan 13 (AP/UNB) — Israel's prime minister says the country struck an Iranian weapons storage facility over the weekend at the Damascus International Airport.
Benjamin Netanyahu's comments on Sunday at his weekly Cabinet meeting mark a rare public acknowledgement of Israeli activity in Syria.
Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets throughout the Syrian civil war but has generally refrained from commenting about them for fear of being drawn into the fighting.
Only recently has it begun to speak publicly about thwarting the weapons smuggling from Iran through Styria into Lebanon. Israel's outgoing military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, did so over the weekend in various interviews.
Netanyahu says Israel says the recent strikes prove "we are committed more than ever to act against Iran in Syria."
Israel's military says its troops have found the sixth and the last tunnel dug by Hezbollah militants for cross-border attacks and that its operation at the Lebanese border is now over.
Military spokesman Jonathan Conricus says the final tunnel is the largest one discovered so far, running hundreds of meters (yards) from under a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory.
Israel launched the "Operation Northern Shield" last month to detect and destroy what it called a vast network of Hezbollah tunnels aimed for militants to sneak across the border and carry out attacks.
Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a cease-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. Conricus says the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNIFIL, has been updated.
Tehran, Jan 13 (AP/UNB) — Angered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement that Poland will host an international conference on Iran in mid-February, Iranian authorities on Sunday summoned Warsaw's top diplomat in the country and called off a Polish film festival.
The moves followed a tweet by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who denounced the upcoming summit as America's anti-Iran "circus."
Pompeo is currently on a Mideast tour, bringing the Trump administration's anti-Iran message to the region. He told Fox News before departing from Cairo on Friday that an international conference on Iran and the Middle East will take place in Poland on Feb. 13-14.
The official IRNA news agency said Iran conveyed its protest over this to Poland's Chargé d'Affaires Wojciech Unolt, demanding that Poland not side with this "hostile move" by the United States against Tehran.
The statement quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying that if the summit goes ahead, Iran will resort to unspecified "counter-action" toward Poland, without elaborating.
Separately, Iran's culture ministry in a statement said it was suspending "Poland's Film Week," supposed to be held in Tehran in late January, until Warsaw mends its ways and starts applying "appropriate behavior" toward Tehran.
Poland's Foreign Ministry in Warsaw could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday morning. However, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Saturday he hoped the conference will provide a new platform for international dialogue and allow the U.S. and European Union to find a closer position on Iran.
Czaputowicz said Poland supported the EU's efforts to preserve its nuclear agreement with Iran, but warned the deal alone would not keep Iran from "destabilizing" the region.
After Pompeo's announcement, Zarif said Friday on Twitter that the conference would bring shame on the Polish government and invoked how during World War II Iran saved Polish lives.
Iran hosted tens of thousands of Polish war refugees who were brought to the country after surviving work camps in the Soviet Union and before they migrated to then-emerging Israel, New Zealand and some African countries. Scores stayed on after the war, choosing to reside in Iran.
Zarif tweeted: "Polish Govt can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus."
Tehran and Warsaw have had good relations. The balance of trade between the two nations was $230 million in 2017, up from 80 million in 2015 when Iran and world powers agreed to a landmark nuclear deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting harsh economic sanctions.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S pulled out of that accord in May 2018 and imposed new and tougher sanctions on Iran last fall.
On Sunday, Pompeo was in Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional archrival, where he is expected to call for increasing pressure on Tehran and promote a U.S.-backed initiative to form what some have termed an "Arab NATO" that would bring the region together in a military alliance to counter threats from Iran.