Monday morning news: October 28, 2019

U.S. military operation kills ISIS leader in Syria » The world’s most wanted man is dead. A U.S. military raid in Syria targeted the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. President Trump made the announcement on Sunday. 

TRUMP: U.S. special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style. 

As U.S. forces bore down on al-Baghdadi, he fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children. He then detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and his children. Troops conducted a DNA test onsite, confirming his identity.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the terrorist leader’s death is a major milestone in the effort to completely destroy ISIS. 

ESPER: Al-Baghdadi was the founder of ISIS. He formed the caliphate. He was an inspirational leader in addition to being a thug and a murderer. So when you take out a leader like that it’s going to have, I think, a major impact on the organization.

The Pentagon began planning the operation two weeks ago, after gaining intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s location. Eight military helicopters flew over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces before landing at a secret ISIS compound under gunfire. More than 50 U.S. troops reportedly took part in the operation. None suffered serious injuries. 

Fighting continues in northern Syria » Meantime, Turkey’s military reported Sunday that one of its soldiers died and five others were wounded in a Kurdish mortar attack. 

The Turkish government maintains that it is only firing in self-defense and is upholding what it called a permanent ceasefire.

But reports from inside northern Syria indicate that Turkey has not halted its assault. 

AUDIO: [Sound of fighting in Syria]

David Eubank is a citizen journalist with the humanitarian group Free Burma Rangers. He recorded his escape from the town of Sodah amid a Turkish attack over the weekend.   

AUDIO: Get in the car! Get in the car, get in the car! 

Eubank also posted footage to social media of wounded Kurds—victims, he said, of Turkish drone strikes. 

Turkey invaded northern Syria on October 9th to clear the border of Kurdish fighters after U.S. troops pulled out of the area. Turkey considers the Kurds a security threat because of links to a long-running Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. 

U.K. authorities working to identify victims found in truck » Authorities in the UK are still working to identify each of the 39 migrants found dead last week—after freezing to death inside a refrigerated truck. Investigators originally believed the migrants to be Chinese nationals. But the focus is now shifting to Vietnam. 

Police in central Vietnam say they’ve taken forensic samples from residents, who believe their family members may be among the victims. Up to 24 Vietnamese families had reported missing family members as of Sunday.

Essex Police charged the driver of the truck, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson of Northern Ireland, with 39 counts of manslaughter and other crimes. Police also arrested and questioned several other suspects in connection with the tragedy.

California declares emergency amid wildfires » California’s governor has declared a statewide emergency with nearly 200,000 people ordered to flee their homes because of wildfires.

About 90 percent of the evacuations are in Sonoma County. Sheriff Mark Essick urged people to obey emergency officials and get out of harm’s way. 

ESSICK: Although I’ve heard some people express concerns that we’re evacuating too many people, I think those concerns are not valid at this point. 

Fire officials are worried that strong winds could carry embers across a major highway. That drove them to expand evacuation orders that covered parts of Santa Rosa—a city of about 175,000 that was devastated by a wildfire just two years ago.

The latest evacuation orders came after Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to 2.3 million people across 36 counties starting Saturday night to try and prevent more fires. 

Thousands rally against Catalan separatist movement » Tens of thousands of people marched in Barcelona on Sunday to protest the separatist movement in Catalonia.

AUDIO: [Sound of Catalan protests]

Barcelona’s urban police originally said 80,000 people rallied. But local police put the crowd estimate at 350,000. Many of the demonstrators waved Spanish and Catalan flags. One poster read in English: “We are Catalonians too, stop this madness!!”

The pro-Spanish unity rally came after several days of protests by Catalan separatists. Those demonstrators voiced anger over a Supreme Court ruling that gave nine separatist leaders long prison sentences. Some of those rallies spiraled into violent clashes with police.

Former Rep. John Conyers dies » One of the longest-serving members in the history of the U.S. Congress died Sunday.  

Former Congressman John Conyers won his first election in 1964 and served more than 50 years in Washington. 

The Michigan Democrat was known as a strong voice in the civil rights movement. It was Conyers who first proposed making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. He’s heard here in a 2015 interview with The Washington Post.

CONYERS: King, to me, is the outstanding international leader of the 20th century, without ever holding office. 

He also helped found the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Conyers remained popular in his district, regularly winning elections with more than 80 percent of the vote, even after his wife went to prison for taking a bribe. But he ultimately resigned amid scandal in 2017. The congressman was facing an ethics probe following multiple sexual harassment allegations. 

Conyers died at his home in Detroit of natural causes. He was 90 years old. 

Rep. Katie Hill resigning amid House ethics probe » On Sunday another House member announced her resignation amid a scandal of her own.

Freshman California Congresswoman Katie Hill had been a rising star in the Democratic Party. 

The 32-year-old delivered the party’s weekly address back in December, right after arriving in Washington. 

HILL: We’ve done a lot of talking this week about we go from here, now that we officially have a House majority. 

But the House recently launched an ethics probe into whether Hill had an improper relationship with an aide in her congressional office. That is prohibited under House rules.

Hill has admitted to a separate relationship with someone on her campaign staff, which she called inappropriate. And she said political operatives and her husband are “weaponizing” compromising photos of her.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) Protestors wave Estelada pro-independence flags during a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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