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News Wrap: Turkey unleashes military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria

In our news wrap Wednesday, Turkish forces crossed the Syrian border, hours after their warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting U.S. allied Kurdish forces. Siobahn Kennedy of Independent Television News Reports. Also, Democratice presidential candidate Joe Biden for the first time said that President Trump should be impeached.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Turkey unleashed its military offensive in Northeastern Syria today by air and on the ground. Turkish forces have now crossed the Syrian border, hours after their warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.

    A Syrian war monitor reported that at least seven civilians and one member of the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces were killed.

    Siobhan Kennedy of Independent Television News narrates our report.

  • Siobhan Kennedy:

    Within days of President Trump announcing U.S. troops would withdraw from Northeast Syria, Turkish jets began taking off. Their targets, Kurdish-controlled Syrian border towns.

    Smoke rising from artillery shells, the long trail of cars, and many people on foot also leaving the city.

    President Erdogan had given the order to launch the attack.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan,:

    Turkish President (through translator): I wish success to our heroes, and I kiss each of them on their forehead.

  • Siobhan Kennedy:

    He tweeted: "Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border and to bring peace to the area."

    Today, though, he brought firepower against Kurdish forces and panic to civilians. Since the defeat of Da'esh, or ISIS, Kurdish forces have controlled the part of Syria east of the Euphrates backed by a limited number of U.S. troops.

    In August, a three-mile buffer zone was agreed, running along the Turkish border, to be jointly patrolled by Turkey and the U.S. But President Erdogan has always wanted to go further, 20 miles inside the border, to push back the YPG, who he considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

    As shelling began on the border towns of Sari Kani and explosions rocked Ras al-Ayn, Kurdish-led forces warned of humanitarian catastrophe. But with no U.S. support, generals called on civilians to move to the border to fight

  • Ahmad Mousa,:

    Spokesman, Syrian Democratic Forces (through translator): We send a message to the whole world again. We will not target Turkey. But if they insist in attacking us and occupying our lands, we will trigger our right in defending our project until last blood. We are ready to face any kind of attack.

  • Siobhan Kennedy:

    As Kurdish forces engage in battle, the worry is, no one will be left to guard the prisons filled with more than 10,000 ISIS fighters.

    Donald Trump has long said ISIS is defeated and today said the U.S. didn't endorse Turkey's attack, calling it a bad idea. Families have begun to flee their homes in the worst-hit towns, panicked and confused.

    But Turkey is certain, determined that now is the time to strike.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That report from Siobhan Kennedy of Independent Television News.

    Meanwhile, in Washington, President Trump said he remains committed to taking U.S. troops out of the Middle East.

    DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: We have been talking to Turkey for three years. They have been wanting to do this for many years, as you know. They have been fighting each other for centuries. We're getting out of endless wars. We have to do it.

    And, eventually, somebody was going to have to make that decision. And, frankly, we are getting a lot of praise from that decision.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will talk to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Turkey's operation in Syria and other things after the news summary.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said for the first time today that President Trump must be impeached for abusing his power. Mr. Trump faces an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats following a whistle-blower's account that he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son.

    The former vice president told supporters today in New Hampshire that Mr. Trump is — quote — "shooting holes in the Constitution."

  • Joseph Biden:

    Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts. To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump responded in a tweet, saying that Biden's call for his impeachment was — quote — "so pathetic."

    Meanwhile, President Trump is facing new accusations of sexually assaulting women. "Esquire" magazine published an excerpt of a new book titled "All the President's Women" that details 26 previously unreported claims of unwanted sexual contact.

    That includes one woman who went on the record to describe an instance at Mar-a-Lago in Florida in the early 2000s, when Mr. Trump, she said, groped her and forcibly kissed her. Mr. Trump has denied the claims.

    California's largest utility provider shut off power to more than a million people today. It's the biggest planned outage in the state's history. Pacific Gas and Electric said that it hopes to stop its equipment from sparking wildfires during the hot and windy weather. About 800,000 customers will eventually be affected across 34 counties in Northern and Central California.

    Officials warned the blackout could last days.

  • Kip Harkness:

    As long as those high winds are there, the power will be out. PG&E will not begin restoring power until those wind conditions are down.

    And then, at that point, it can take up to five days for the last customer to be restored. We will be working with them to increase the velocity of that restoration and restore as quickly as possible, but it is in their hands and their infrastructure.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    PG&E came under increased scrutiny last November, after California's deadliest and most destructive fire was determined to be ignited by the utility's transmission lines. That fire killed 85 people and destroyed more than 10,000 homes.

    The FBI arrested an official at the Defense Intelligence Agency today for leaking classified information. The Justice Department said the 30-year-old was charged with disclosing top-secret data about a foreign country's weapons systems to two journalists, including a reporter he was dating. No further specifics were provided.

    Montgomery, Alabama, known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement, has elected its first black mayor in the city's 200-year-history. Steven Reed, a 45-year-old probate judge, made history after winning Tuesday's run-off election.

    He celebrated the victory at a rally last night.

  • Steven Reed:

    This election has never been about me. This election has never been about just my ideas. It's been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Prior to this election, Montgomery was one of only three cities in the Deep South with a population of 100,000 or more to have never elected an African-American mayor.

    In economic news, stocks rebounded on Wall Street, ahead of a new round of U.S. trade talks with China. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 182 points to close at 26346. The Nasdaq rose 80 points, and the S&P 500 added 26.

    In Ecuador, thousands of protesters, led by indigenous groups, held a nationwide strike today, amid a week of unrest and anti-government demonstrations. President Lenin Moreno has refused their calls to step down over fuel price hikes, and has moved government operations out of Quito, the capital.

    That's marches in the city were largely peaceful. But down some streets, protesters rolled flaming tires at security forces, who fired back with tear gas.

    And three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry today for their development of lithium ion batteries. They laid the foundation for the commercially rechargeable batteries now powering our smartphones, laptops and electric cars.

    One of the winners, 97-year-old John Goodenough, who is a professor at the University of Texas, is the oldest person to ever win a Nobel Prize.

  • John Goodenough:

    I didn't ever lobby for or look forward to this particular day, but I'm very happy that it's arrived. It's been very nice to receive a recognition.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ninety-seven. Wow.

    So, Goodenough shares the prize with a British-American chemistry professor and a Japanese scientist.

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