Concerns arise about China’s ability to ingrain itself in the US food supply as well as monitor US Air Bases

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • How China sunk its teeth into US farmland: Firms tied to communist regime own 192,000 agricultural acres across America worth $1.9bn and purchased 300 acres in North Dakota 20 minutes from military base
  • The China-based food producer Fufeng Group plans to build a corn-milling plant on its newly acquired 300 acres of land in Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • The land is 20 minutes west of Grand Forks Air Force Base, where some of the nation’s most sensitive drone and communications technologies are based
  • Air Force Major Jeremy Fox wrote a memo in April characterizing the move as emblematic of Chinese efforts to infiltrate sensitive US defense installations
  • Fears about the company’s proximity to the air base comes as lawmakers have pushed for legislation preventing the communist nation from buying US land
  • ‘The location of the land close to the base is particularly convenient for monitoring air traffic flows in and out of the base, among other security related concerns,’ the commission’s report said.
  • A representative for the Fufeng Group’s US subsidiary said fears of espionage couldn’t be further from the truth.
  • Lawmakers from liberal banner-woman Elizabeth Warren to conservative stalwarts like former-vice president Mike Pence have spoke about the need to curb China’s ability to ingrain itself in the US food supply.

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Colombia arrests 10 over bombing, shooting of president’s helicopter

By Oliver Griffin

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia arrested 10 people accused of involvement in attacks on a helicopter carrying President Ivan Duque and a military base last month that officials said on Thursday were planned by former FARC rebel leaders based in Venezuela.

The car bombing at the base in the northeastern city of Cucuta, home to the army’s 30th brigade, wounded 44 people, including two U.S. military advisers. Later in June, a helicopter approaching city with Duque and other officials aboard was strafed by bullets.

The 10 people captured in Norte de Santander province are former FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal, Attorney General Francisco Barbosa said in a press conference broadcast via social media, and belong to the dissidents’ 33rd front.

Three took part in the planning and execution of both attacks and have been detained and charged, while another is a retired army captain, Barbosa said.

Orders to carry out the attacks came from former FARC leaders who are operating from Venezuela, Defense Minister Diego Molano said during the conference.

He said the incidents demonstrated the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sheltered FARC dissidents, calling them “terrorists”.

“It’s clear that this attack against the president, against the 30th brigade, was planned from Venezuela,” Molano said.

The Venezuelan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colombia’s government has long accused Maduro of turning a blind eye to the presence of Colombian rebels on his country’s territory. Maduro, in turn, has said Venezuela is a victim of criminals from Colombia.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Editing by Joe Bavier)

Syria, Russia say Israeli war planes carried out strike on Syrian air base

A man is washed following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS

AMMAN (Reuters) – The Russian and Syrian military on Monday said Israeli war planes carried out missile strikes on a Syrian air base, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of a “big price to pay” following reports of a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town.

Syrian state TV initially said the United States was suspected of carrying out a missile attack on the T-4 airfield near Homs, after harsh words by Trump over the reported chemical attack on Saturday in the town of Douma which killed dozens of people.

The United States denied attacking the Syrian base, and France also said its forces had not carried it out.

The Russian military, whose forces are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said two Israeli F-15 war planes had carried out the strikes on the Syrian T-4 air base, the Interfax news agency reported.

Interfax cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying the Israeli war planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space, and that Syrian air defense systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired.

Syrian state media, citing a military source, then carried a similar report. “The Israeli aggression on the T4 airport was carried out with F-15 planes that fired several missiles from above Lebanese land,” state news agency SANA said.

When asked earlier about the explosions from the air base, an Israeli spokeswoman declined to comment. Israel had no immediate comment to the Syrian and Russian military charges.

Israel has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Assad’s forces.

Israel has accused Damascus of allowing Iran to set up a complex at the T-4 base to supply arms to its ally, Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah.

Syrian state TV, in its initial report, said there had been casualties in what it said was a suspected U.S. missile attack on the T-4 airfield near Homs, close to the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria. The Pentagon denied U.S. war planes were carrying out any air strikes in Syria at the present time.

“However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable,” it said.

Defence analysts say there are large deployments of Russian forces at the T-4 base and jets fly regular sorties from there to strike rebel-held areas.

The Syrian state broadcaster said there were several dead and wounded in the strike.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, said at least 14 people were killed including some fighters of various nationalities, a reference to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia members, mostly from Iraq, Lebanon and Iran fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

TRUMP POINTS TO PUTIN

The Syrian opposition blamed the suspected chemical attack on Saturday in Douma on government forces.

As international officials worked to try to confirm the chemical attack, Trump took the rare step of directly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the incident.

Trump said on Twitter on Sunday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of civilians, including many children and women, were killed by poison gas in the besieged rebel-held town.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” Trump wrote.

The Syrian government denied its forces had launched any chemical assault, while Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, called the reports fake and warned against military action on the basis of “invented and fabricated excuses”.

The Syrian government launched an air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta district, on Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Trump by telephone and the two agreed they would work together to establish clear responsibility for what Macron’s office said they had agreed was a confirmed chemical attack.

Macron said in February “France will strike” in the event of lethal chemical weapon attack on civilians by government forces in Syria. A French defense ministry official said on Monday France did not carry out the air strike on the T-4 base.

The medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defense service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said in a joint statement 49 people had been killed in the suspected gas attack.

One video shared by activists showed bodies of about a dozen children, women and men, some with foam at the mouth. “Douma city, April 7 … there is a strong smell here,” a voice can be heard saying.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The United States launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base a year ago in response to the killing of dozens of civilians in a sarin gas attack in an opposition-held town in northwest Syria. The gas attack was blamed on Assad.

U.S. government sources said Washington’s assessment of the Saturday attack was that chemical weapons were used. The European Union also said evidence pointed to the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces.

A European diplomat said Western allies would work on building a dossier based on photos, videos, witness testimony and satellite images of Syrian flights and helicopters. However gaining access to samples on the ground would be difficult.

The U.N. Security Council will meet twice on Monday following rival requests by Russia and the United States.

U.N. war crimes investigators had previously documented 33 chemical attacks in Syria, attributing 27 to the Assad government, which has repeatedly denied using the weapons.

(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Ellen Francis, Maria Kiselyova, Dan Williams, John Irish, Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Robert Birsel and Richard Balmforth; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Venezuela quells attack on military base, two killed

Demonstrators build barricades while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Valencia, Venezuela August 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

By Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer

VALENCIA/CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan authorities quelled an attack on a military base near the city of Valencia by soldiers and armed civilians on Sunday, killing two of them in a dramatic escalation of unrest in the protest-convulsed South American nation.

The pre-dawn raid coincided with a video circulated on social media showing more than a dozen men in military uniform announcing an uprising to restore constitutional order following the creation of a pro-government legislative superbody on Friday, condemned internationally as a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro.

The assault highlighted the growing volatility of the OPEC member state after four months of sustained anti-government protests in which some 120 people have been killed. The opposition has denounced Maduro for dragging Venezuela toward dictatorship and has appealed to the military for help. (http://tmsnrt.rs/2ujuylf)

In his weekly televised show, the unpopular socialist leader condemned the attackers as “mercenaries”. He said around 20 armed men had entered the Fort of Paramacay near Valencia, about two hours west of capital Caracas, before dawn, surprising guards and making straight for the weapons cache.

Two of the attackers were killed in a firefight with soldiers, Maduro said. Socialist party officials said eight others were arrested, including at least three from the military, while the remainder made off with weapons.

“Those who escaped are being actively searched for, and we are going to capture them,” Maduro said.

In Valencia, hundreds took to the streets to support what at first appeared to be a small military uprising, said resident Carolina Herrera, who like other witnesses reported shots through the night. But hooded protesters were dispelled with tear gas, and the rest of the nation of 30 million people appeared mostly calm.

Last week, Venezuela elected a 545-member legislative superbody that Maduro calls Venezuela’s only hope for restoring peace. The opposition calls it a power play aimed at keeping the president in office despite approval ratings battered by a deep recession, high inflation and shortages of food and medicine.

It was a turbulent first weekend for the increasingly fractured nation under the new authority.

In its first move on Saturday, the Constituent Assembly removed Venezuela’s dissident chief prosecutor from her post and ordered her to stand trial, confirming opposition fears that it would use its powers to root out critics of the government.

Motorcyclist passes through a barricade during protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Valencia, Venezuela August 6, 2017.

Motorcyclist passes through a barricade during protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Valencia, Venezuela August 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

‘DELIRIOUS MINDS IN MIAMI’

The crisis has turned attention to the role of the military, with some ordinary soldiers increasingly weary of the popular backlash against their role in suppressing protests.

Sunday’s attack was apparently led by Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former National Guard captain. Authorities published photos purporting to show seven arrested men, some of them with bruises on their faces.

In the video circulating Sunday, a man who identified himself as Caguaripano and flanked by men in military uniforms, called for the immediate formation of a transition government.

“This is not a coup d’etat,” added Caguaripano, who was removed from the National Guard in 2014, according to a document seen by Reuters.

“This is a civic and military action to re-establish constitutional order. But more than that, it is to save the country from total destruction.”

Sunday’s apparent bid to spur a national uprising came six weeks after rogue policeman Oscar Perez attacked key installations in Caracas by helicopter. Perez, who also failed to spark a larger movement, is still in hiding.

Authorities said the attackers were mostly civilians working for U.S.-backed right-wingers who are trying to end nearly two decades of socialism in Venezuela, raising the specter of a further government crackdown on dissent in coming days.

“These attacks, planned by delirious minds in Miami, only strengthen the morale of our armed forces and the Bolivarian people,” said Socialist Party official Elias Jaua.

The new assembly, which Maduro says is needed to enshrine socialism more profoundly in the constitution, has the power to dissolve or reconstitute all government bodies. The opposition, which controls Congress, boycotted the election for the new body, saying the rules had been rigged.

The fired prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, had become Maduro’s main challenger from within the ruling socialist movement since the start of sustained opposition street protests in April.

Her successor has promised to crack down on the demonstrations but Ortega on Sunday rejected her removal as illegal and said she still considers herself the country’s top prosecutor.

 

ARMED FORCES IN SPOTLIGHT

Oil-rich but economically ailing Venezuela has a long history of instability. Maduro’s mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, burst onto the national scene by leading a 1992 coup attempt, for which he served time in jail before winning the presidency six years later.

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country, and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators.

The military has played a key role in government since Chavez – himself a former military officer – swept to power in 1999 promising to bring greater equality to Venezuela, home to the world’s largest oil reserves.

The top brass continues to publicly profess loyalty to Maduro’s government. Critics say juicy government contracts, corruption, and contraband mean many military officials want Maduro to stay in office and fear persecution should the opposition take power.

Discontent is higher among lower-tier officials, who are often sent to control rowdy protests and are paid just a few dozen U.S. dollars a month.

“You can’t ask civil society and the military to suffer more hunger, crime, and corruption perpetrated by this repressive government,” said opposition lawmaker Carlos Michelangeli.

 

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein and Alexandra Ulmer; Additional reporting by Corina Pons, Deisy Buitrago and Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Mary Milliken)

 

Lockdown lifted at Alabama base after false reports of shooter

(Reuters) – A lockdown at a U.S. Army base in northern Alabama on Tuesday was lifted after two telephone calls reporting an active shooter at the sprawling facility near Huntsville turned out to be false.

No threat was found and an investigation is under way to determine who made the calls from within a building where the shooter was reported to have been, Colonel Thomas Holliday, commander of the Redstone Arsenal, said at a press conference.

“We have no evidence of shots actually (being) fired,” Holliday said.

One of the calls to 911 emergency dispatchers said gun shots had been heard, and another said a gun had been seen. Neither of those were credible, Holliday said.

There were no casualties, and no one was arrested, Holliday said. There were no visitors on that part of the base on Tuesday, he added.

The base is home to military units including the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command and elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Missile Defense Agency. It also hosts the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where rocket research and testing is conducted.

A total of about 43,000 military, NASA and civilian personnel work at Redstone Arsenal.

Holliday said the response of base personnel was appropriate, given that every U.S. military base has to be on high alert for potential active shooters and other acts of violence.

It took hours to ensure that everyone was safe in the 1.5-million-square-foot (457,200-square-meter) Sparkman Center complex where the shooter was reported.

A full base lockdown lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, and some buildings were shut for four-and-a-half hours, Holliday said.

A drill to handle a situation similar to the one reported on Tuesday was to occur later this week, but was canceled after this incident, Holliday said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown and Dan Grebler)

Alabama base on lockdown after possible active shooter report

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A military base in northern Alabama was on lockdown on Tuesday following reports of a possible active shooter at the facility, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, base officials said.

A spokesman for the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Christopher Colster, said employees there were sheltering in place and that it was a scary situation.

“We have no confirmed casualties at this point, so that’s a good thing,” Colster said in a live television interview.

The base had said earlier in a post on its official Twitter account that there was a possible active shooter and urged people at the facility to, “Run hide fight.”

A reporter on the scene for local broadcaster WAFF said he saw five police cars, two of them unmarked with blue lights on top, entering the base carrying officers in body armor.

Redstone Arsenal is home to military units including the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command and elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.

Alabama Representative Mo Brooks said he was monitoring the situation closely. “Please stay alert with updates – praying for all those on base,” Brooks wrote on Twitter.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was also monitoring developments, Ivey wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)

China to build on disputed shoal in South China Sea

Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an official said, as two U.S. senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on its activities in the disputed waterway.

Last month, a Philippine minister said Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised his Philippine counterpart China would not build structures on the rocky outcrop both countries claim, but China called the comments “baffling and regrettable”.

China seized the shoal, which is northeast of the Spratly islands, in 2012 and denied access to Philippine fishermen. But after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, it allowed them to return to the traditional fishing area.

This week, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.

Sansha City is the name China has given to an administrative base for the South China Sea islands and reefs it controls.

The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, form part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts planned for 2017, Xiao told the official Hainan Daily in an interview.

A spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, Charles Jose, declined to comment, saying it was trying to verify the reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday for a two-day visit, where the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China, is likely to figure.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters, which have rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits. About $5 trillion worth of trade passes through the waterway each year.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of manmade islands and its build-up of military facilities there, expressing concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act that would ban visas for Chinese people contributing to building development projects in the South and East China Seas.

It would also put sanctions on foreign financial bodies that “knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities” if China steps up activity at Scarborough Shoal, among other actions.

The senators’ proposal was “extremely grating,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“I think the proposal put forward by individual senators shows their arrogance and ignorance,” Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China resolutely opposes the proposal, which infringes international law and international relations norms, she added.

Tension over the South China Sea reached a flashpoint after the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in the Hague and as China started militarizing artificial islands it built up on reefs in the region.

China is also involved in a separate dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in MANILA; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Turkey shakes up armed forces, U.S. says purges harming cooperation

Turkish soldiers detain Staff Sergeant Erkan Cikat, one of the missing military personnel suspected of being involved in the coup attempt, in Marmaris, Turkey

By Tulay Karadeniz and Seda Sezer

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan angrily rejected Western criticism of purges under way in Turkey’s military and other state institutions after a failed coup, suggesting some in the United States were on the side of the plotters.

The purges target supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of masterminding the July 15-16 coup. Turkey’s Western allies condemned the coup, in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured, but they have been rattled by the scale of the crackdown.

The director of U.S. national intelligence, James Clapper, said on Thursday the purges were harming the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq by sweeping away Turkish officers who had worked closely with the United States.

The head of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said he believed some of the military figures whom the United States had worked with were in jail.

Speaking at a special forces headquarters in Ankara badly damaged by violence on the night of the coup, Erdogan on Friday condemned Votel’s remarks.

“Instead of thanking this country which repelled a coup attempt, you take the side of the coup plotters. The putschist is in your country already,” Erdogan said, referring to Gulen, who denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

“They (the critics) say … ‘we worry for (Turkey’s) future’. But what are these gentlemen worried about? Whether the numbers of detained and arrested will increase? If they are guilty, they will increase,” said Erdogan, who narrowly escaped capture and possible death on the night of the coup.

Ankara wants Washington to extradite Gulen, once a close ally of Erdogan and now an arch foe, to Turkey.

Asked about the U.S. comments on losing Turkish interlocutors, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim echoed Erdogan’s feisty tone: “This is a confession. If the Gulenist generals are their friends, they are in the same class.”

Yildirim also said Turkey would shut down an air base near Ankara which served as a hub for the coup plotters as well as all military barracks used by them.

MILITARY SHAKE-UP

Turkey announced late on Thursday a major shake-up of its armed forces, NATO’s second largest, with the promotion of 99 colonels to the rank of general or admiral and the dishonorable discharge of nearly 1,700 military personnel over their alleged roles in the coup.

About 40 percent of all generals and admirals have been dismissed since the coup.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik told broadcaster NTV on Friday the shake-up in the military was not yet over, adding that military academies would now be a target of “cleansing”.

The purges have also hit government ministries, schools and universities, the police, civil service, media and business.

The number of public sector workers removed from their posts since the coup attempt now stands at more than 66,000, including some 43,000 people in education, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said more than 18,000 people had been detained over the failed coup, and that 50,000 passports had been canceled. The labor ministry said it was investigating 1,300 staff over their possible involvement.

Erdogan says Gulen harnessed his extensive network of schools, charities and businesses, built up in Turkey and abroad over decades, to create a secretive “parallel state” that aimed to take over the country.

Erdogan’s critics say he is using the purges to crack down indiscriminately on dissent and to tighten his grip on power.

With long land borders with Syria and Iraq, Turkey is a central part of the U.S.-led military operation against Islamic State. As home to millions of Syrian refugees, it is also the European Union’s partner in a deal reached last year to halt the biggest flow of migrants into Europe since World War Two.

Turkey hosts U.S. troops and warplanes at Incirlik Air Base, from which the United States flies sorties against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Those air operations were temporarily halted following the coup attempt.

Attempting to reassure the United States, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey’s armed forces, “cleansed” of their Gulenist elements, would prove more “trustworthy … and effective” allies against Islamic State.

Nevertheless, there is a growing anti-U.S. mood in Turkey which is likely to harden further if Washington refuses to extradite Gulen.

Several hundred flag-waving protesters staged a peaceful protest march near the Incirlik base on Thursday, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Damn the U.S.A”, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper reported. The protesters burned a U.S. flag.

“POWER POISONING”

The crackdown on Gulenists pressed on unabated on Friday.

In the central city of Kayseri, a stronghold of Erdogan’s ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party, police detained the chairman of furniture-to-cables conglomerate Boydak Holding and two company executives as part of the investigation into the “Gulenist Terror Group”,  Anadolu reported.

Prosecutors in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir issued orders to detain 200 police on Friday as part of the investigation targeting Gulenists, the Dogan news agency said.

In the Netherlands, a spokeswoman for the Gulenist community said supporters feared for their safety after dozens of death threats and acts of arson and vandalism in Dutch towns and cities in the past two weeks. Saniye Calkin said supporters in neighboring Germany were reporting similar incidents.

Germany is home to Europe’s largest Turkish diaspora, while the Netherlands also has around half a million ethnic Turks.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, again maintained his innocence during an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, saying he had himself suffered from previous coups in Turkey.

Asked why his once-warm ties with Erdogan and the AK Party had turned sour, Gulen said: “It appears that after staying in power for too long, (they) are suffering from power poisoning.”

Gulen, whose Hizmet (Service) movement stresses the need to embrace scientific progress and inter-faith dialogue, said he still strongly backed Ankara’s bid to join the EU, saying this would buttress democracy and human rights in Turkey.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler and Nick Tattersall in Istanbul, Orhan Coskun in Ankara, Steve Scherer in Rome, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

American Troops Battle ISIS For First Time

ISIS militants lost a significant number of troops after they attacked an Iraqi base that was housing U.S. ground troops.

The assault by the terrorists on the Ein al-Asad military base on Sunday were 100 U.S. troops were stationed as part of a “training mission” for the Iraqi military.  Not only did the terrorists find themselves quickly being subdued by the U.S. troops but F-18 fighters also joined the fight.

A tribal leader in the region said that while it was the first direct fight between US troops and ISIS, it didn’t mean that the U.S. was engaged in the ground war.  Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi said that terrorists attacked the base so it was an act of self-defense.

The U.S. forces are helping train Iraqis and members of the Kurdish peshmurga as they attempt to recapture a key city from the terrorists.  The city is on a major pathway to Yazidis trapped in mountains by ISIS.