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Assad Forces Pound Syria’s Northwest, Ignoring Trump Warning

Government forces in Syria have bombed a market in the country's northwest

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Assad Forces, Syria's Northwest
FILE - People walk past a damaged building in the city of Idlib, Syria, May 25, 2019. VOA

Government forces in Syria have bombed a market in the country’s northwest, killing at least four civilians, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded Syria, Russia and Iran stop “bombing the hell out of Idlib province in Syria.”

The airstrike Monday hit a public market in the town of Maaret al-Naman in Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Video of the aftermath of the bombing shows residents along with the opposition Syrian Civil Defense forces looking for victims under the rubble of damaged market stalls and buildings.

Trump said in a late Sunday tweet that the bombings by Syrian forces are “indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians.”

Assad Forces, Syria's Northwest
Plumes of smoke rise from a location, said to be Khan al Subul, Idlib province, Syria, following an airstrike, in this still image taken from a video uploaded May 28, 2019. VOA

“The world is watching this butchery. What is the purpose? What will it get you? STOP!” he wrote.

Trump, in comments to reporters at the White House Sunday, also noted his call last year for Syria and its allies to avoid an all-out offensive in Idlib due to humanitarian concerns.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed similar sentiment in late April, but his government has also warned that the presence of militants in Idlib was undermining attempts to end Syria’s eight-year conflict.

The Kremlin reiterated Monday that the Russian army is only targeting “terrorists” in Syria’s Idlib region.

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Idlib is in northwestern Syria along the Turkish border. It is the last major part of Syria still controlled by rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebels and their families who surrendered other parts of Syria under the threat of a bloody offensive have crowded into Idlib looking for safety.

The rebels, who still hold the province, have so far refused to give up. Syrian and Russian forces and, as Trump says, “to a lesser extent” Iran, have sharply increased their bombardment and rocket attacks on Idlib.

The surge in violence comes months after Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed on a cease-fire plan under which Turkey would try to curb militant behavior in Idlib. Turkey is concerned that a major offensive there could send people fleeing across the border into Turkey, which is already hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Assad Forces, Syria's Northwest
Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad walk at a military complex after they recently recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on Sept. 5, 2016. Image source: VOA

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week the latest violence against Idlib has killed about 950 people.

On Sunday, the Observatory says a car bomb in the pro-Turkish rebel-held city of Azaz killed at least 14 people and wounded more than 20.

Witnesses told the monitor the bomb went off as people were leaving a mosque after evening prayers and meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which also burned or blew out the windows of more than a dozen nearby stores.

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The area has been the target of several other recent terrorist bombings.

Azaz is the main city in the part of Aleppo controlled by pro-Turkish rebels, who drove out Islamic State while keeping Kurdish forces out of the area as well. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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Trump, Obama, Climate
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)