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November 19, 2019
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New attempt to end Syrian bloodshed brings optimism, doubt

Turkey scrambles jets as Syrian choppers near border.

After world leaders heralded a new plan over the weekend to end the crisis in Syria, the agreement between typically sparring countries netted both optimism and doubt. But on the ground, violence reigned once again early Monday as “a state of terror” spread in suburban Damascus, opposition activists said, quoted by CNN. Fresh mortar shelling fell near an elementary school in Madyara, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.The latest international plan for Syria, backed by Russia and China as well as the West, calls for a transitional government as a step toward ending 16 months of daily bloodshed. Unlike many Western countries, Russia and China have not explicitly called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded that the plan, forged Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, might not work.“There is no guarantee that we are going to be successful. I just hate to say that,” Clinton told CNN.But she expressed optimism that the new agreement would help ease al-Assad out of power, saying the Syrian president and his inner circle would be excluded from any transitional government.In another development, Turkey scrambled fighter jets three separate times Saturday as Syrian helicopters neared the border between the two countries, Turkey’s military said Sunday. The helicopters were in Syrian airspace, but were getting close to the border, the armed forces statement said.The jets – a total of six – were scrambled twice out of Incirlik, and once out of Batman, it said. The incident underscores rising tensions between the two nations in the wake of Syria’s downing a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet on June 22.Both Syria and Turkey acknowledged the plane strayed into Syrian airspace, but Turkey said the incursion was accidental and quickly corrected.Turkey’s National Security Council said last week the nation would act against “hostile action” by Syria. Turkey also bolstered its forces along the border.Also, Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan said his country was changing its military rules of engagement and would treat a military approach toward its borders by Syria as a potential threat that

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