Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

U.S. disrupts evacuation of ISIS militants in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday it carried out airstrikes to disrupt a convoy of Islamic State militants being evacuated from the Lebanon-Syria border to an ISIS-held area in eastern Syria near Iraq, without targeting the evacuees themselves.

Coalition aircraft struck a small bridge and cratered a road to hinder the convoy's progress. The coalition also struck a separate group of ISIS militants traveling to meet the convoy, according to Col. Ryan Dillon, a coalition spokesman.

U.S. officials have criticized the transfer of hundreds of militants and civilians who are bound for an ISIS-held area near the Iraqi border, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield. The evacuation came as part of a controversial deal brokered by the Lebanese Hezbollah group to clear ISIS from an area along the Lebanon-Syria border.

The coalition is reluctant to strike the actual convoy of evacuees because the fighters have wives and children traveling with them, the Associated Press reported, speaking to a U.S. official who wasn't authorized to discuss military details and requested anonymity. Although Hezbollah members are believed to be the ones escorting the convoy, the Syrian government's involvement creates further risk for the United States if the coalition were to hit it.

The coalition nevertheless said in a statement that it is not bound by the evacuation agreement. There are about 300 militants and almost as many family members on buses being evacuated under the deal.

"We are monitoring their location in real time," Dillon said, adding that the coalition "will not rule out strikes against IS fighters being moved."

He added that any strike will be in accordance with "the law of armed conflict and if we are able to do so and can discriminate and discern the difference between fighters and civilians."

Syrian opposition activists said the convoy, which left the Lebanon-Syria border on Tuesday, is still in government-held territory in eastern Syria.

The evacuation agreement, the first such publicized deal, had already angered many Iraqis, who accused Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah of dumping the militants on the Iraqi border rather than eradicating them.

The top U.S. envoy for the international coalition against ISIS, Brett McGurk, tweeted Wednesday that ISIS "terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq's consent." McGurk added that the anti-ISIS coalition will help ensure that "these terrorists can never" enter Iraq.

Lebanese troops launched an attack against ISIS on Aug. 18, while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters launched a simultaneous offensive from the Syrian side of the border. The militants agreed to a cease-fire over the weekend once they had been squeezed into a small area along the frontier.

Comments
Bill to ban orca breeding filed in House faces pushback from SeaWorld

Bill to ban orca breeding filed in House faces pushback from SeaWorld

A bill that would outlaw the breeding and performing of killer whales in Florida has cleared the initial hurdle that kept it off the table last year: getting a lawmaker to file it in the first place. In an effort to solidify a voluntary policy change...
Published: 01/16/18
Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

TAMPA — The recent cold snap has been more than just an inconvenience for Floridians. It’s been tough on fish and potentially hazardous to flights at MacDill Air Force Base.The National Weather Service says temperatures in early January fell to as lo...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Review: Truth and lies are the focus of ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Maybe Jack Nicholson was wrong. We can handle the truth.The #MeToo movement is giving a microphone to once unheard voices. Political lies are constantly challenged. At the Golden Globes, Oprah’s rousing speech asserted "the most powerful tool is spea...
Published: 01/16/18
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

PORT RICHEY — As the boat disappeared in smoke and flames Sunday, as people leapt into the cold waters below, the neighborhood rallied. Residents helped the survivors ashore, gave them blankets and opened their homes to keep them warm.The neighbors o...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Jan. 15, midday:40 098 2397e_SRit98281Mon., Jan. 15, evening:14 345 3173e_SRit61471Fantasy 5Mon., Jan. 15...
Updated: 7 hours ago
On King’s birthday, Tampa Bay parties, marches, reflects

On King’s birthday, Tampa Bay parties, marches, reflects

ST. PETERSBURGTeenagers dunked on 8-foot basketball hoops, parents feasted on hot dogs and snow cones and gospel music blared from a wall of speakers in Tropicana Field’s parking lots.While thousands buzzed around them on Monday, Destiny and Dameka R...
Updated: 8 hours ago

ConnecticutArmy vet sues VA over scalpel left in body after surgeryAn Army veteran who says someone left a scalpel inside him after surgery is suing a Connecticut veterans affairs hospital. Bridgeport resident Glenford Turner says the scalpel was onl...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Shrine Game journal: Homecoming for Utah OL Salesi Uhatafe; Quinton Flowers works on snaps

ST. PETERSBURG — Salesi Uhatafe is back in his hometown, and though he moved to Texas when he was still a baby, it’s very much a homecoming as the former Utah offensive lineman plays in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field."I’ll probab...
Updated: 8 hours ago