Monday, February 19, 2018

U.S. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Is Interviewed By 60 Minutes

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. CBS News

CBS 60 Minutes: Rex Tillerson opens up in rare, wide-ranging interview

The normally private Secretary of State talks with 60 Minutes about his life, his relationship with the President, and his efforts to bring North Korea to the bargaining table

Rex Tillerson admits he was an unconventional choice for secretary of state. He had no prior government experience, but as CEO of Exxon-Mobil, he had crisscrossed the globe striking deals with foreign leaders. Secretary Tillerson - a man who still considers himself a Boy Scout and follows what he calls "the Code of the West" - is fiercely private and has shied away from interviews. But he agreed to do a rare, wide-ranging one with us.

Read more ....

U.S. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Is Interviewed By 60 Minutes

More from Rex Tillerson -- CBS
Tillerson pledged to keep up the 'maximum pressure' campaign on North Korea — but offered them a way out -- Business Insider
'We don't know how much time is left on the clock': Rex Tillerson says the U.S. is 'nervous' about North Korea striking with a nuclear missile but vows to bring the hermit kingdom to the negotiating table -- Daily Mail
'Until First Bomb Drops': Tillerson Vows to Bring DPRK to Negotiating Table -- Sputnik International
Tillerson says he is listening for N.K. to tell him if it is ready to talk -- Yonhap News
Tillerson: US using 'large sticks,' not carrot, to convince North Korea to talk -- The Hill
Tillerson says US evaluating additional Russian individuals for sanctioning -- TASS
Tillerson Says US Considering Additional Sanctions Against Russians -- Radio Free Europe
Tillerson opens up about meeting with Putin as US Secretary of State -- TASS
Tillerson: State Dept. not being 'dismantled' -- Politico
Rex Tillerson: Only I know when I'm stepping down as secretary of state -- Washington Examiner
Tillerson again refuses to say whether he called Trump a 'moron' -- The Hill

World News Briefs -- February 19, 20189

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), Director of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov (2nd R), and Director of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Dec. 19, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin | Alexei Druzhinin | Reuters

VOA/Reuters: After US Indictments, Russia Denies Election Meddling

MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Monday denied Russian government involvement in interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the allegations are baseless.

The comments come days after the U.S. special counsel charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal "information warfare" campaign to disrupt the election to the benefit of President Donald Trump.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Syrian army to help Kurdish forces repel Turkish offensive in Afrin: reports.

No one can stop Turkish forces if Syrian Army enters Afrin to protect Kurds - FM.

Moscow calls on US not to play with fire in Syria. US must immediately leave area it controls in southern Syria — Lavrov.

Militants in army uniforms ambush Iraqi troops near Baghdad, 27 dead.

Israeli warplanes pound Gaza after new rocket attack.

Netanyahu in deeper peril as more Israeli officials are arrested on corruption charges.

Israel ready to act against ‘dangerous’ Iran, Netanyahu warns.

Iran denies 'hegemon' plans, denounces Saudi and Israel.

Swastikas drawn on Polish embassy in Israel.

Iran plane crash: Search continues for missing Aseman Airlines jet.

ASIA

DPRK media denounces US plans to resume war games with South Korea.

Inter-Korean ties still precarious ahead of military talks, N. Korea blames U.S..

Afghan political crisis deepens as second governor refuses to resign.

Russian military build-up threatens Japan islands deal.

Maldives court suspends rebel MPs ahead of key vote.

NZ Labour Party support rises to 15-year high after four months at helm: poll.

China launches anti-poverty drive in restive Xinjiang.

Indonesia's Mt. Sinabung spews massive smoke-and-ash column.

AFRICA

Nigeria orders military to capture Boko Haram leader "dead or alive".

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai campaign.

Sudan releases activists arrested over 'bread protests'.

Togo talks offer 'last chance' to resolve crisis.

At least 17 killed in Mozambique capital as pile of garbage collapses.

Somali refugees enslaved in Libya return home.

Drought and conflict shutting down schools in East Africa.

EUROPE

Lavrov dismisses as speculations reports of hundreds of killed Russians in Syria. Kremlin says charges over U.S. election tampering prove nothing.

Ukraine: Thousands demand return of Saakashvili.

France says committed to Iran deal, will keep talking to European, U.S allies.

Italy's Northern League pledges mass migrant deportations.

Merkel taps possible successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as next CDU secretary general.

Latvia in turmoil amid U.S. probe, central bank chief's detention.

Russian team in shock over Games doping scandal.

AMERICAS

Trump says FBI missed signs on Florida shooting due to Russia probe, draws criticism.

Russia looms large as U.S. election officials prep for 2018.

Mexican opposition candidates slam Trump wall ahead of campaign.

Mexico special agents found dead after cartel kidnapping.

Canada deports North Korean asylum seekers.

Chile seeks extradition of ex-guerrilla arrested in France.

Oxfam Haiti scandal: Suspects 'physically threatened' witnesses.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

ISIS claim responsibility for attack on Orthodox church that left five women dead as video emerges showing one person fleeing for her life.

Kremlin: Intensive struggle against extremism in Dagestan goes on.

12 ISIL widows sentenced to death, life by Iraqi court.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Australia, US, India, Japan mulling 'infrastructure scheme to rival China'.

South Korean president: Seoul may file complaint against U.S. trade protectionism.

Bitcoin surging higher after mystery trader buys $344mn in cryptocurrency.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 19, 2018

A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test was released last November by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. Insults between North Korea's Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump inflamed tensions. (Reuters)

CBC: Analysis - What could start the next war? 'Accident, miscalculation, blunder'

There are growing risks of tripping into next war instead of marching into it, say experts

Hawaii's false alarm about an incoming ballistic missile. Israel's downing of an Iranian drone, and the subsequent Syrian downing of an Israeli jet. The U.S, bombing of Russian fighters in Syria.

All happened in 2018, and any could have relatively swiftly sparked a major new confrontation.

An insistent alarm is being raised over the rising probability the world will trip into its next major conflict rather than deliberately march into it.

Miscalculations, accidents, or plain old human error — they're an inevitable consequence of human interaction on the global stage and there are often channels to deal with them to prevent escalation.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- February 19, 2018

South Korea army division to conduct exercises near DMZ -- UPI

Chinese Officials Caused Commotion Over 'Nuclear Football' in Beijing -- Military.com/FOX News

Bigger, faster, stronger: China’s ever-evolving military tech -- Quartz

China and the military balance -- Sam Roggeveen, The Interpreter

US sends signal to China with aircraft carrier's Asia tour -- Nikkei Asian Review

As China concerns grow, India looks to build military presence in Seychelles -- CNN

Indonesia’s military craves more power -- Asia Times

Russian large amphibious assault ship enters Atlantic -- TASS

WATCH Russia Test Its New Tor-M2DT Arctic Short-Range Air Defense System -- Sputnik

High-Tech Enemy Probably Attacks Russia in 5 Sectors - Russian General Staff -- Sputnik

Russia and Saudi Arabia hash over details of S-400 deliveries deal -- TASS

Israel, US Successfully Test Hetz 3 Exoatmospheric Anti-Missile System -- Sputnik

Iran insists it has ‘no military bases in Syria’ -- Times of Israel

UK Army manpower crisis as just 8,000 people sign up despite 100,000 applying as the 'nightmare' year-long recruitment process is slammed -- Daily Mail

Super Hornet Will Compete In Canada's Fighter Contest As US Navy Funds Conformal Fuel Tanks -- Warzone/The Drive

Germany's Bundeswehr 'lacks basic equipment' for NATO mission -- DW

Germany Fails to Fulfill NATO Rapid Response Force Requirements - Reports -- Sputnik

The F-35 for Germany -- RCD

Can the German Navy Be Saved? -- John Beckner & Helmoed Heitman, RCD

Two U.S. Guided-missile Destroyers Now Operating in the Black Sea -- USNI News

The F/A-18 Super Hornet Is About to Fly Farther Than Ever Before -- Popular Mechanics

SOUTHCOM Tidd Wants More Surveillance, Coast Guard Cutters to Stem Illegal Trafficking -- USNI News

The Army is equipping tanks with a high-tech protective system it's been working on for decades as it prepares for a great-power war -- Business Insider

US Wary of Russian and Chinese Antisatellite Weaponry -- Sputnik

The Air Force requested $30M to develop a ‘cyber carrier’ -- Fifth Domain

The USA is no longer guaranteed future military technology dominance -- Next Big Future

Lockheed Martin Accuses Air Force Of Making A Data Grab -- Loren Thompson, Forbes

Artificial intelligence poses questions for nature of war: Mattis -- AFP

The military, flush with cash, is asking lawmakers for more time to spend it all -- Washington Examiner

Putting the Pentagon’s Pennies in Perspective -- Ben Freeman, Defense One

6 Myths About the CIA -- History News Network

Foreign Disinformation is a Threat to Military Readiness, Too -- Matthew Krull, Defense One

One Of These Ships Will Be The U.S. Navy's Next Frigate

Austal's FFG(X) design is based on their Independence class Littoral Combat Ship. Austral

The Warzone/The Drive: One Of These Five Ships Will Become The U.S. Navy's Next Frigate

The FFG(X) program is well underway as the Navy selects five vendors to fully conceptualize their designs before making a final pick in 2019.

The Navy has moved forward with funding five potential designs that could fulfill its future guided missile frigate FFG(X) requirement. At least 20 of these vessels will be built, and as we have discussed in detail before, the project is among the Navy's most important initiatives. Fielding a highly capable surface combatant that can pick up many missions currently being conducted by over-tasked and far more expensive destroyers will be essential to providing a more flexible and sustainable fleet in the decades to come.

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WNU Editor: The U.S. Navy does need a smaller warship for some missions. This is a good start.

This Is How U.S. Airman Train To Load Weapons Onto A Stealth Bomber



The Warzone/The Drive: This Giant B-2 Replica Is How Airman Train To Load Weapons Onto A Stealth Bomber

It's the largest contraption of its kind and is key in teaching ground crews how to load the B-2 up with some of the deadliest weapons on earth.

The B-2 Spirit can pack one hell of a punch. In addition to B-61 and B-83 nuclear bombs, it can carry as many as 80 independently targetable 500lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions or a pair of 33,000lb GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrators, and a ton of other weapon types as well. When the B-2 goes on an actual mission, it usually carries a big load, and often times it lugs that load halfway around the world. Suffice it to say, loading up the jet safely and accurately with all those explosives is a serious task that requires constant training, especially considering that a nick to the stealth bomber's delicate radar absorbent skin can end a critical mission before it even starts.

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WNU Editor: It figures that they would first train on a replica before doing the real thing.

Why China Would Lose A War Against America

Harry J. Kazianis, National Interest: Exposed: Why China Would Lose a War against America

When it comes to a war with the U.S. how well would Beijing be able to use all that stuff? The real question seems pretty simple: yes, China is certainly developing all the military and technology goodies to field a potent force. However, how well can it operate all that equipment in the pressure filled situation of a war? Sure, Beijing is certainly developing a world-class military, but can its soldiers operate all that equipment competently? Just how well trained are they? You can have the best military in the world but if you don’t know how to use it, well, you get the idea.

Let’s not mince words: a U.S.-China war would be hell on earth. It would likely start World War III. Millions— maybe billions— of people would die if nuclear weapons were ever used in such a conflict. The global economy would likely face ruin— that’s what happens when the world’s biggest economic powers start shooting at each other. Thankfully the chances are remote it will ever happen. Yet, the threat of such a conflict remains thanks to the many different pressure points in the U.S.-China relationship. Forget the challenge of ISIS, Ukraine, Syria or whatever the flavor of the moment is. The U.S.-China relationship— and whether it remains peaceful or not— is the most important challenge of our time. Period.

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WNU editor: The Chinese may be defeated today (if nuclear weapons are not used) .... but if one looks 20 or 30 years from now .... that environment will be very different.

China Is Giving Latin American Generals ‘Lavish,’ All-Expenses-Paid Trips To China

Defense One: Beijing Has Started Giving Latin American Generals ‘Lavish,’ All-Expenses-Paid Trips to China

Inspired by the U.S.’s own programs to train and befriend foreign officers at American military institutions, Beijing is wooing the militaries of the U.S.’s neighbors.

China has started to woo America’s nearest allies by funding “lavish” trips for Latin American military officers to live and study across the Pacific. Beijing is courting officers from the region, offering to cover the cost of military education and travel, Adm. Kurt Tidd, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, told lawmakers Thursday.

“They are very lavishly funding to bring senior military officers from a variety of key countries around our region to China for very lavishly expensed, all-expense-paid trips for them, for their families to be able to live very high lifestyles in the country,” Tidd said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

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WNU Editor: The Chinese are always interested in building long term relationships .... and they are very good at it.

This Is The Story Of A Chinese Submarine Disaster In 2003

Reuters

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: In 2003, a Chinese Submarine Sank Mysteriously. How the Crew Died Is Horrifying.

On April 25, 2003 the crew of a Chinese fishing boat noticed a strange sight—a periscope drifting listlessly above the surface of the water. The fishermen notified the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) which promptly dispatched two vessels to investigate.

At first the PLAN believed the contact to be an intruding submarine from South Korea or Japan. But when Chinese personnel finally recovered the apparent derelict they realized it was one of their own diesel-electric submarines, the Ming-class 361.

When they boarded on April 26, they found all seventy personnel slumped dead at their stations.

Military commissioner and former president Jiang Zemin acknowledged the tragic incident on May 2, 2003, in a statement honoring the sacrifice of Chinese sailors lives and vaguely characterizing the cause as “mechanical failure.”

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WNU Editor:  70 sailors dead in two minutes.

Miss England Soldier Quits The Army After Years Of Sexual Abuse

Former Miss England, Katrina Hodge, who was dubbed 'Combat Barbie' when she joined the Army has revealed how she quit after years of sexist abuse MoD

Daily Mail: Miss England dubbed Combat Barbie who saved lives of five comrades in Iraq quits the Army after being called 's**t' and 'b***h' in sickening campaign of abuse

* Katrina Hodge, 30 was branded a 's**t' and a 'liar' by an Army 'sexist boys club'
* She saved the lives of five comrades in Iraq and was decorated for her act
* However her comrades bullied her saying that she had made the whole thing up
* In 2009 Katrina won Miss England and used the publicity to promote the Army
* But after suffering years of abuse she quit in 2015

A former Miss England who was given the moniker 'Combat Barbie' when she joined the Army reveals she quit after years of sexist attacks.

Katrina Hodge, was decorated for her bravery in Iraq aged 18 however her male colleagues bullied her for the commendation.

After earning her nickname for arriving on her first day wearing kitten heels and a case full of pink clothes Katrina proved she was just as determined as any man.

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WNU Editor: She served for 12 years.

More News On Miss England Quitting The Army

Miss England soldier who saved comrades' lives in Iraq reveals years of sexist abuse -- IBTimes
Former Miss England dubbed Combat Barbie reveals she quit Army after bullies made her life hell for 12 years -- The Sun
Combat Barbie's 12 years of hell: Miss England winner quits Army after suffering vile sexist abuse -- Mirror.

So True



WNU Editor: Some have a different take on the above tweets ....

Here Is The World's List Of 20 Aricraft Carriers That Are In Service Today

Daniel Brown/Business Insider

Business Insider: These are the 20 aircraft carriers in service today

Despite aircraft carriers' immense cost, the Navy believes there is no replacing a well-armed, aircraft equipped, sovereign piece of US territory, powered by dual nuclear reactors.

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen was fond of saying that without "flattops" the US has "less of a voice, less of an influence." Evidently, many of the worlds nations also believe this is true.

The last few years have seen a number of interesting developments for aircraft carriers. Some nations, like India and Spain retired aircraft carriers, while China commissioned its first aircraft carrier, and the UK returned to the rather exclusive carrier owners club.

The US commissioned its newest aircraft carrier in 2017 — the USS Gerald R. Ford — the first in the Ford-class. Business Insider got a chance to tour the Ford last year.

In all, 20 aircraft carriers can carry and launch fixed-wing aircraft are currently in service around the world.

Take a look at them here:

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WNU Editor: The oldest aircraft carrier on the list is the USS Nimitz (commissioned in 1975).

Tweets for Today






The Mobile Phone Is Probably The Most Dangerous Device Available Today

Asia Times: Mobile apps, smartphones pose a clear and present danger

Most people don't realize that the mobile phone is being 'weaponized'.

New revelations show that Iran has posted apps found on Google’s Play Store which give the Iranians the ability to easily spy on anyone who downloads them to their smartphone. Some say these are “weaponized” smartphone apps.

Most people don’t realize that the mobile phone is probably the most dangerous device available today. It is more powerful than any conventional computer, and it is totally vulnerable to hacking.

The modern smartphone combines significant computing power made up of a very fast microprocessor and graphics engine plus memory with a host of sensors and radios, including GPS.

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WNU Editor:  If you own a cell phone ..... which is basically everyone .... this is a must read.

Picture Of The Day

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen on a bus in the town of al-Rai, Syria February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... Photos of the week (Reuters).

Chinese Security Officials Tried To Block President Trump's 'Nuclear Football' When He And His Team Visited Beijing's Great Hall Of The People In November



Axios: Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football

On Thursday Nov. 9, when President Trump and his team visited Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football.

I've spoken to five sources familiar with the events. Here's what happened, as they describe it:

* When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.)
* A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — "We're moving in," he said — and the Americans all started moving.
* Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.

The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump's team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing, according to a person familiar with the trip — but somebody at the Chinese end either didn't get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.

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WNU Editor: It is interesting that this story is only coming out now .... three and a half months later. This reminds me of President Putin's nuclear football being stopped by the South Africans 5 years ago .... South African Guards Confront Russian President Putin's Bodyguards When Told That Their 'Nuclear' Suitcase' Must Be Put Through An X-Ray (March 28, 2013).

More News On Reports That Chinese Security Officials Tried To Block President Trump's 'Nuclear Football' When He And His Team Visited Beijing's Great Hall Of The People In November

Axios: Kelly, Secret Service agent scuffled with Chinese officials over nuclear 'football' -- The Hill
John Kelly, Chinese officials caused commotion over nuclear football in Beijing, report says -- Fox News
John Kelly and Secret Service agent scuffled with Chinese officials over nuclear ‘football’ in Beijing, report claims -- Japan Times
US and China reportedly scuffled over nuclear 'football' during Trump's Beijing visit -- CNBC
A Secret Service agent tackled a Chinese security official over the nuclear football when Trump visited China -- Business Insider
Scuffle over nuclear football during Trump's visit to China ends with tackled guard: Report -- Washington Times
John Kelly involved in November scuffle with Chinese officials after nuclear football blocked from following Trump: Report -- Washington Examiner

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What To Do With Captured IS Foreign Fighters?

Iraqi special forces intelligence agents check men's IDs in the search for Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq on Nov. 27. Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Rikar Hussein & Nisan Ahmado, VOA: Western Countries’ Dilemma: What to Do With Captured IS Foreign Fighters?

WASHINGTON — The United States and its European allies are divided over the question of what to do with hundreds of Islamic State (IS) foreign fighters who were captured on the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

While an agreement on how to handle the issue has yet to be made, experts warn of unprecedented challenges as some countries refuse to accept these fighters back into their home countries or are unprepared to deal with them in their criminal justice systems.

The U.S position is that jihadists ought to be tried in their home countries. But the United Kingdom and France have been reluctant to agree to such an arrangement.

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WNU Editor:  Some .... if not most of them .... have committed unspeakable crimes. I would definitely not favor having them return to my country.

Hezbollah Issues More Threats Against Israeli Offshore Oil & Gas Operations



Times of Israel: Hezbollah issues fresh threat against Israel’s offshore gas rigs

In newly issued pamphlets and video, Lebanese terror group warns it will strike 'whoever abuses oil and gas sites in Lebanon's economic waters'

Hezbollah threatened on Sunday to target Israel’s Mediterranean natural gas rigs in a future conflict, the latest in a string of such threats.

The terror group, which has sought to position itself as Lebanon’s defense against Israel and amid an ongoing dispute over gas-rich offshore economic waters, released a video that showed what appeared to be drilling platforms floating above Israel’s gas fields with targeting sights superimposed on the images.

Read more ....

Update #1: Hezbollah threatens attacks against Israeli offshore oil & gas operations (VIDEO) (RT)
Update #2: Hezbollah Leader Threatens "We Will Open Fire" On Disputed Israeli Offshore Oil & Gas Operations -- Zero Hedge

WNU Editor: The Israelis and Lebanese are in a dispute over their maritime boundaries, and Hezbollah is making its opinon known. In the meantime the U.S. is trying to mediate this disagreement .... Israeli, US officials meet over gas dispute with Lebanon (Times of Israel/AFP).

Kurdish Forces Are Claiming That The Syrian Government Has Agreed To Send Forces Into Afrin To Help Repel The Turkish Army


BBC: Afrin: Kurdish fighters 'strike deal' with Syrian army

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria say they have struck a deal with the Syrian government under which it will send troops to help repel a Turkish offensive.

The Syrian government in Damascus has offered no confirmation.

Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters, just across its border in Afrin, as terrorists. It launched a major offensive against them last month.

There is currently no Syrian military presence in the area.

A senior Kurdish official, Badran Jia Kurd, told Reuters that government soldiers could enter the Afrin region within days and that they would deploy to some border positions.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If true .... this changes the dynamics on the ground for Turkey.

More News On Reports That The Syrian Government Has Agreed To Send Forces Into Afrin To Help Repel The Turkish Army

Syrian Kurdish official: deal for Syrian army to enter Afrin -- Reuters
Syrian army to enter Afrin under deal with Kurdish forces: report - Xinhuanet
Deal reached for Syrian army to enter Afrin: Kurdish official -- NRT