In our news wrap Monday, Turkish and Syrian forces clashed in northwestern Syria for the second time in two weeks. As Turkish trucks rumbled into Idlib province, officials in Ankara warned Syria’s Assad regime to pull back. Also, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called for protecting whistleblowers after President Trump ousted several key figures in the impeachment probe on Friday.
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In the day's other news: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for protecting whistle-blowers in the wake of the impeachment probe.
President Trump ousted several key figures in the investigation on Friday. Schumer wrote today to 74 inspectors general across the federal government and warned of — quote — "a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing."
In China, a new surge of coronavirus cases has dimmed hopes that the outbreak might be slowing. As of tonight, more than 1,000 people have died, out of some 42,000 cases. The deaths now top the toll from the SARS epidemic that began in 2002.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization said today it is also watching the spread among people who have not been to China lately.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But, for now, it's only a spark. Our objective remains containment.
Meanwhile, Chinese state TV showed President Xi Jinping wearing a mask at a medical facility, after days out of the public eye. He told medical workers — quote — "We will most definitely win this people's war."
We will return to the outbreak after the news summary.
The U.S. military now says 109 troops suffered mild traumatic brain injuries when Iranian missiles hit a base in Iraq last month. That is an increase of 45 from the last accounting. The new report says 76 of those affected have since returned to duty. Initial reports said no U.S. troops were injured, but officials say symptoms can take weeks to appear.
Turkish and Syrian forces have clashed in Northwestern Syria for the second time in two weeks. The Turks say intense Syrian shelling killed five Turkish soldiers today in Idlib province. Turkey says it struck back and — quote — "neutralized 100 Syrian troops." Turkish trucks also rumbled into the region with equipment and supplies.
And officials in Ankara warned Syria's Assad regime to pull back.
After these attacks, the regime elements approaching our observation posts or our areas are being considered as enemies. They carried out these hostilities twice.
Turkish armed forces will respond to these regime elements by doing whatever is done to an enemy. It's the Syrians who started this.
Syria's campaign to retake Idlib province from rebels has sent more than half-a-million people fleeing toward Turkey. Turkish officials, in turn, have demanded the offensive stop.
Heavy rains in Eastern Australia have helped douse raging wildfires, but have also led to severe flooding. The region around Sydney has had 16 inches of rain since Friday, leaving people wading through waist-deep water. But the downpours also partially replenished reservoirs after three years of drought.
At least seven people have been killed as a storm with hurricane force batters Europe for a second day. Thrashing waves lashed homes in Northern France today, and people in Britain began cleaning up debris from Sunday's damage. In Germany, trains and more than 1,000 flights were canceled, as winds reached up to 90 miles an hour.
Back in this country, four members of the Chinese military have been charged with hacking a major credit reporting agency in 2017. The Justice Department today blamed Beijing for the breach of Equifax that affected more than 145 million Americans.
Attorney General William Barr says it was part of a systematic campaign.
Attorney General William Barr:
For years, we have witnessed China's voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans. In addition to the thefts of sensitive personal data, our cases reveal a pattern of state-sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China targeting trade secrets and confidential business information.
The breach involved Social Security numbers, birth dates and driver's license information. But Justice Department officials said there is no evidence that the hackers used the data. They are based in China and remain at large.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 174 points to close at 29276. The Nasdaq rose 107 points, and the S&P 500 added 24.