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Brazil sends troops, military aircraft to fight forest fires in the Amazon



The Brazilian military has troops in the Amazon to fight the huge fires that swept the region and sparked international controversy.

The Brazilian Secretary of Defense said that about 44,000 troops would be available for "unprecedented" operations to be deployed. the fires and forces are targeting six Brazilian states that have sought federal aid.

"Forest protection is our duty," Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in a televised address on Friday. "We are aware of this and will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon. We are a government with zero tolerance for crime and the environment will be no different."

  A fire consumes an area near Jaci Parana, Rondonia, Brazil, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Brazil says military aircraft and 44,000 troops will be available to fight fires moving parts of the Amazon region. (AP Photo / Eraldo Peres)

Fire engulfs an area near Jaci Parana, Rondonia, Brazil, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Brazil says military aircraft and 44,000 troops will be available to fight fires passing through parts of the Amazon region. (AP Photo / Eraldo Perez)

The first military mission will be carried out by 700 soldiers around Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia, said Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo.

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"This shows the concern of the Bolsonaro government on this," Azevedo said. "It was a very quick response."

A journalist for the Associated Press flying over the area of ​​Porto Velho on Saturday morning reported foggy conditions and low visibility. On Friday, a reporter saw many deforested areas that had been burned, apparently by people clearing farmland, and a large pillar of smoke heard from a fire.

  This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil in August. 20, 2019. As wildfires rage in the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian government on Thursday condemned international critics who say President Jair Bolsonaro is not doing so. (NASA via AP)

This satellite image provided by NASA shows the fires in Brazil on August 20, 2019. As the fires raged in the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian government on Thursday condemned international critics who say President Jair Bolsonsaro don't do this (NASA through AP)

The municipality of Nova Santa Elena in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso was also severely affected. Trucks were spotted driving on the highway on Friday as fires blazed and embers burned in neighboring fields.

Azevedo noted a tweet from President Trump that the US leader offered to help Brazil fight fires, but added that Brazil and Washington had no further communication on the subject.

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However, the US has already started helping to fight the mass fires. A worldwide Boeing 747-400 firefighter carrying nearly 20,000 retardants, a substance used to stop fires, arrived on the border between Bolivia and Brazil from California on Friday.

Bolsonaro previously described the protection of tropical forests as an impediment to Brazil's economic development, sparring with critics who say the Amazon absorbs huge amounts of greenhouse gases and is critical to efforts to tackle climate change.

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Fires in the Amazon its commitments to biodiversity conservation. Protesters gathered outside Brazilian diplomatic missions in European and Latin American cities on Friday, and protesters also marched in Brazil.

  Charcoal and wood-burning stoves are visible from the air in the city of Yachi Parana, Rondonia, on Saturday. Defense and environment ministers outlined plans to counter the blasts that sparked an international outcry, as well as demonstrations in Brazil against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the environmental crisis. (AP Photo / Eraldo Peres)

Charcoal and wood-burning stoves can be seen from the air in the city of Yachi Parana, Rondonia on Saturday. Defense and environment ministers outlined plans to counter the blasts that sparked an international outcry, as well as demonstrations in Brazil against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the environmental crisis. (AP Photo / Eraldo Perez)

The dispute spilled over into the economic scene when French President Emmanuel Macron threatened to block the European Union's trade agreement with Brazil and several other South American countries. He wants a group of seven leaders to meet at a summit in France this weekend to discuss the Amazon crisis.

"First we have to help Brazil and other countries put out these fires," Macron said Saturday.

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climate, thanks to the oxygen it emits and the carbon it absorbs, "he said.

  A fire burns a field on a farm in Nova Santa Helena, in Mato Grosso, Brazil on Friday. Under increasing international pressure to control fires cleaning parts of the Amazon, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonsaro on Friday authorized the use of troops to fight the massive flames (AP Photo / Leo Correa)

A fire burns a field in a farm in Nova Santa Helena, Mato Grosso, Brazil on Friday, under mounting international pressure to contain it. on fires sweeping parts of the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized the use of troops to fight mass flames. (AP Photo / Leo Correa)

Bolivia also fights the control of fires that sweep through forests and fields. The government of Bolivian President Evo Morales has supported increased crop production for biofuels, raising questions whether the policy is paving the way for more burning. The Bolivian government says 3680 square miles have been burned this year.

On Saturday, several helicopters along with police, troops, firefighters and volunteers on earth worked to extinguish fires in the Chikitania area of ​​Bolivia, where the forests are dry. time of year.

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Similarly, Bolsonaro had said he wanted to convert land for cattle grazing and soybean farms. Brazilian prosecutors are investigating whether poor enforcement of environmental regulations could have contributed to the spike in wildfires.

Fires are common in Brazil during the dry season, but they are much more widespread this year. Brazilian state experts report nearly 77,000 fires nationwide so far this year, up 85% from the same period in 2018. More than half of those fires have occurred in the Amazon region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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