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Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:51 pm

Erdogan vies for
leverage in Idlib


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on threats to retaliate against Russian-backed Syrian forces in Idlib, where an ongoing government offensive has escalated tensions between Ankara and Damascus

Recent clashes between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish troops stationed at observation posts in Idlib left 14 Turkish soldiers and personnel dead, drawing a strong rebuke from lawmakers in Ankara.

“If any harm comes to our troops at the observation posts or anywhere else, we will hit the regime forces anywhere, without limiting ourselves to Idlib and to the boundaries of the Sochi Memorandum,” Erdogan said Wednesday during a Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in the Turkish capital.

He added that Syrian regime forces must pull back beyond Turkish observation posts by the end of month, returning to boundaries set by the Sochi agreement in an effort to stem violence that has sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing for safety along the Turkish border.

Responding to the statements, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said Erdogan was “disconnected from reality” and that his comments “only reveal ignorance in threatening to hit Syrian army troops.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, “Statements by Turkish representatives about alleged attacks by Russian forces on civilians in the Idlib de-escalation zone do not correspond with reality.” It went on, “The real reason for the crisis in the Idlib de-escalation zone unfortunately is the non-fulfilment by our Turkish colleagues of their undertakings to separate moderate opposition militants from terrorists.”

The taunts come as Ankara officials seek to avoid an influx of new refugees. Turkey currently hosts more than 3.7 million Syrians and their impact on the labor market is believed to have cost the ruling AKP votes in the 2019 municipal elections.

Meanwhile, US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey arrived in Ankara Tuesday night to evaluate developments in Syria with Turkish counterparts. Speaking to the Turkish press, Jeffery reaffirmed previous statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, underlining Washington's support for Turkey, “a NATO ally,” he said in Turkish, despite recent tensions between the two nations.

More than 5,000 Turkish troops and heavy artillery have entered Idlib over the last week as reinforcement for observation posts and military positions in an effort to de-escalate fighting in Idlib and stop the loss of territory held by opposition rebel groups, some of which are backed by Ankara.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the Associated Press that at least four of 12 observation posts in Idlib are now in Syrian government-controlled territory, along with two Turkish military positions.

Akar echoed Erdogan’s statements that his troops would respond “even more powerfully” to Syrian regime attacks, and reiterated that Turkish soldiers would not pull back from the M5 highway, a key land route connecting Damascus and Aleppo over which Assad forces recently took control.

Though the highway was included in a rebel-held area delineated by 2018 cease-fire accords between Ankara and Moscow, Russian leaders have supported recent gains by Syrian troops, claiming Turkey did not uphold prior commitments to remove extremist rebel factions from Idlib.

In a phone conversation between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Wednesday, the two discussed the “aggravation of the situation” in Idlib and said they would work toward the “full implementation” of prior cease-fire agreements to limit further escalation.

Russian and Turkish officials will hold high-level talks on Idlib soon, though no date has been set

Nigar Goksel, Turkey project director for the International Crisis Group, said the discord stemming from developments in Idlib may eventually require Ankara and Moscow to renegotiate prior cease-fire arrangements to reflect the new reality on the ground.

“It appears Ankara and Moscow are trying to box each other in as much as they possibly can, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any other option apart from a new cease-fire [agreement],” Goksel told Al-Monitor.

Taking a tougher stance on the issue, Nationalist Movement Party leader and close Erdogan ally Devlet Bahceli said Turkey should reassess its relations with Russia after the clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces.

“Assad is a murderer, criminal, illegal and a source of strife," Bahceli said during a speech in Ankara Tuesday. "If necessary, the Turkish nation should plan to enter Damascus.”

The statements were not supported by most Ankara lawmakers, many of whom have sought Western and NATO backing to contain and de-escalate the conflict in Idlib. Pervin Buldan, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, said Turkey should fully withdraw from Syria and leave the fate of the nation to its citizens.

Reflecting on recent developments, Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor at the University of Lyon 2 and adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute, said he did not expect a serious escalation between Turkish and Syrian troops due to Russian leverage on both sides.

Most likely, Balanche said, Ankara may seek to fortify key observation posts, such as in Taftanaz — which has access to a military airport — while withdrawing from positions taken over by regime forces.

Regarding the humanitarian crisis on the Turkish border, Balanche added Turkish officials may seek to relocate displaced Syrians to areas controlled by Turkey-backed troops in northeast Syria, but the process of transferring civilians may prove challenging.

“To relocate the refugees to northeast Syria, Erdogan needs to take Kobani [for] territorial continuity between Jarablus and Tall Abyad,” Balanche told Al-Monitor. “If he tries to send refugees to Tall Abyad and Ras al-Ain through the Turkish territory, people could decide to stay and not go back [to Syria]. And according to international law, displacement through Turkish territory would not be acceptable.”

For the time being, he said Ankara officials might seek concessions from Moscow to gain more territory within Syria. Yet Russian officials are currently coordinating talks between Damascus and Syrian Kurds as Assad seeks to regain all territory lost in the nine-year-old conflict.

In this process, Balanche said Moscow may use the threat of another Turkish operation in northeast Syria to pressure Kurds to reunite with the Syrian regime and cut ties with remaining American troops in Deir ez-Zor.

“If [Erdogan] is making a lot of noise, it’s because he wants something, but the problem is that Russia doesn’t want to give him Kobani or Kurdish territory” Balanche told Al-Monitor.

He added, “If Russia gives something to Turkey now, the situation with the Kurds is finished. So, I think in two or three months, if there is no progress in negotiations between Russia and the Kurds and American troops are still in Deir ez-Zor, Kurds could lose more territory.”

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origin ... erage.html
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:55 pm

Erdogan vies for
leverage in Idlib


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on threats to retaliate against Russian-backed Syrian forces in Idlib, where an ongoing government offensive has escalated tensions between Ankara and Damascus

Recent clashes between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish troops stationed at observation posts in Idlib left 14 Turkish soldiers and personnel dead, drawing a strong rebuke from lawmakers in Ankara.

“If any harm comes to our troops at the observation posts or anywhere else, we will hit the regime forces anywhere, without limiting ourselves to Idlib and to the boundaries of the Sochi Memorandum,” Erdogan said Wednesday during a Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in the Turkish capital.

He added that Syrian regime forces must pull back beyond Turkish observation posts by the end of month, returning to boundaries set by the Sochi agreement in an effort to stem violence that has sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing for safety along the Turkish border.

Responding to the statements, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said Erdogan was “disconnected from reality” and that his comments “only reveal ignorance in threatening to hit Syrian army troops.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, “Statements by Turkish representatives about alleged attacks by Russian forces on civilians in the Idlib de-escalation zone do not correspond with reality.” It went on, “The real reason for the crisis in the Idlib de-escalation zone unfortunately is the non-fulfilment by our Turkish colleagues of their undertakings to separate moderate opposition militants from terrorists.”

The taunts come as Ankara officials seek to avoid an influx of new refugees. Turkey currently hosts more than 3.7 million Syrians and their impact on the labor market is believed to have cost the ruling AKP votes in the 2019 municipal elections.

Meanwhile, US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey arrived in Ankara Tuesday night to evaluate developments in Syria with Turkish counterparts. Speaking to the Turkish press, Jeffery reaffirmed previous statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, underlining Washington's support for Turkey, “a NATO ally,” he said in Turkish, despite recent tensions between the two nations.

More than 5,000 Turkish troops and heavy artillery have entered Idlib over the last week as reinforcement for observation posts and military positions in an effort to de-escalate fighting in Idlib and stop the loss of territory held by opposition rebel groups, some of which are backed by Ankara.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the Associated Press that at least four of 12 observation posts in Idlib are now in Syrian government-controlled territory, along with two Turkish military positions.

Akar echoed Erdogan’s statements that his troops would respond “even more powerfully” to Syrian regime attacks, and reiterated that Turkish soldiers would not pull back from the M5 highway, a key land route connecting Damascus and Aleppo over which Assad forces recently took control.

Though the highway was included in a rebel-held area delineated by 2018 cease-fire accords between Ankara and Moscow, Russian leaders have supported recent gains by Syrian troops, claiming Turkey did not uphold prior commitments to remove extremist rebel factions from Idlib.

In a phone conversation between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Wednesday, the two discussed the “aggravation of the situation” in Idlib and said they would work toward the “full implementation” of prior cease-fire agreements to limit further escalation.

Russian and Turkish officials will hold high-level talks on Idlib soon, though no date has been set

NOBODY is talking to the KURDISH inhabitants of Idlib X(

Nigar Goksel, Turkey project director for the International Crisis Group, said the discord stemming from developments in Idlib may eventually require Ankara and Moscow to renegotiate prior cease-fire arrangements to reflect the new reality on the ground.

“It appears Ankara and Moscow are trying to box each other in as much as they possibly can, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any other option apart from a new cease-fire [agreement],” Goksel told Al-Monitor.

Taking a tougher stance on the issue, Nationalist Movement Party leader and close Erdogan ally Devlet Bahceli said Turkey should reassess its relations with Russia after the clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces.

“Assad is a murderer, criminal, illegal and a source of strife," Bahceli said during a speech in Ankara Tuesday. "If necessary, the Turkish nation should plan to enter Damascus.”

The statements were not supported by most Ankara lawmakers, many of whom have sought Western and NATO backing to contain and de-escalate the conflict in Idlib. Pervin Buldan, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, said Turkey should fully withdraw from Syria and leave the fate of the nation to its citizens.

Reflecting on recent developments, Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor at the University of Lyon 2 and adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute, said he did not expect a serious escalation between Turkish and Syrian troops due to Russian leverage on both sides.

Most likely, Balanche said, Ankara may seek to fortify key observation posts, such as in Taftanaz — which has access to a military airport — while withdrawing from positions taken over by regime forces.

Regarding the humanitarian crisis on the Turkish border, Balanche added Turkish officials may seek to relocate displaced Syrians to areas controlled by Turkey-backed troops in northeast Syria, but the process of transferring civilians may prove challenging.

“To relocate the refugees to northeast Syria, Erdogan needs to take Kobani [for] territorial continuity between Jarablus and Tall Abyad,” Balanche told Al-Monitor. “If he tries to send refugees to Tall Abyad and Ras al-Ain through the Turkish territory, people could decide to stay and not go back [to Syria]. And according to international law, displacement through Turkish territory would not be acceptable.”

For the time being, he said Ankara officials might seek concessions from Moscow to gain more territory within Syria. Yet Russian officials are currently coordinating talks between Damascus and Syrian Kurds as Assad seeks to regain all territory lost in the nine-year-old conflict.

In this process, Balanche said Moscow may use the threat of another Turkish operation in northeast Syria to pressure Kurds to reunite with the Syrian regime and cut ties with remaining American troops in Deir ez-Zor.

“If [Erdogan] is making a lot of noise, it’s because he wants something, but the problem is that Russia doesn’t want to give him Kobani or Kurdish territory” Balanche told Al-Monitor.

He added, “If Russia gives something to Turkey now, the situation with the Kurds is finished. So, I think in two or three months, if there is no progress in negotiations between Russia and the Kurds and American troops are still in Deir ez-Zor, Kurds could lose more territory.”

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origin ... erage.html
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:44 pm

Erdogan threatens imminent
Turkish operation in Syria


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch an operation in Syria's Idlib region by the end of the month if Damascus fails to withdraw behind Turkish military positions

"An operation in Idlib is imminent," Erdogan told his party's legislators in Parliament on Wednesday. "We are counting down, we are making our final warnings".

Russia - the Syrian government's main ally in the nearly nine-year war - responded by saying any Turkish offensive against Syrian forces in Idlib would be the "worst scenario".

"If we are talking about an operation against the legitimate authorities of the Syrian Republic and armed forces of the Syrian republic this would, of course, be the worst scenario," said Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, adding Russia and Turkey were staying in contact to prevent tensions escalating further.

Ankara, which backs several rebel groups in northwest Syria, has been outraged since recent Syrian government attacks in Idlib province killed 13 Turkish military personnel in two weeks.

No matter the cost

Erdogan said talks with Russia over the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria had failed to end in agreement and warned a military operation was just a "matter of time".

He said Turkey was determined to make Idlib a secure zone "no matter the cost", even as talks continue with Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"We will not leave Idlib to the [Syrian] regime, which does not understand our country's determination, and to those encouraging it," said Erdogan.

Erdogan's comments came as forces loyal to al-Assad pressed an offensive on the country's last major rebel enclave.

About 900,000 people have been forced from their homes and shelters in less than three months, including some 500,000 children, since Syrian government troops renewed the offensive on the region.

Erdogan's announcement comes a day after dire warnings by United Nations officials who warned of a humanitarian disaster in northwest Syria.

Nearly 300 civilians have been killed in attacks this year in the region, with 93 percent of the deaths caused by Syrian and Russian forces, according to the UN's human rights chief.

President al-Assad pledged this week to continue the offensive, saying the war was not yet over but a "complete victory" was in sight.

In September 2018, Turkey, Russia and Iran - the main international players in the conflict - agreed to turn Idlib province into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression were prohibited while all sides were allowed to set up military observation posts.

However, all sides have blamed each other for violating the terms of the agreement, as multiple ceasefires last summer failed to hold.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Wednesday that Syrian government forces were upholding previous agreements on the region but also reacting to provocations. Lavrov said rebel attacks on Syrian and Russian forces in Idlib were continuing.

He also said the Russian and Turkish delegations failed to reach an agreement at talks in Moscow earlier in the week aimed at easing the tensions in Idlib.
Calls for restraint

Syrian aid workers issued an urgent call on Wednesday for a ceasefire and international help for nearly a million people fleeing the onslaught.

Syria: The Last Assignment

At a news conference in Istanbul, the Syrian NGO Alliance said existing camps are overcrowded and civilians are forced to sleep in the open amid a bitter winter cold.

"We are facing one of the worst protection crises and are dealing with a mass movement of IDPs [internally displaced persons] who have nowhere to go," the Syrian NGO Alliance said in a statement.

They are "escaping in search of safety only to die from extreme weather conditions and lack of available resources," it added.

More than 500,000 children have been displaced by the violence, UNICEF said in a statement. Since the beginning of the year, 77 children have been killed or injured.

"The situation in the northwest is untenable, even by Syria's grim standards," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director.

"Children and families are caught between the violence, the biting cold, the lack of food and the desperate living conditions ... It is time for the guns to go silent and for the violence to stop once and for all."

Symbolic message

A Syrian commercial flight landed at Aleppo airport on Wednesday from Damascus, marking the resumption of internal flights between Syria's two largest cities for the first time since 2012.

The flight carrying Syrian officials and journalists was a symbolic message from al-Assad's government, days after its forces consolidated control over the northwestern province of Aleppo and seized the last segments of the strategic M5 highway linking Aleppo to Damascus.

The motorway between Syria's two biggest cities was being repaired and was scheduled to reopen in coming days, for the first time in eight years.

The Syrian Air flight landed at Aleppo airport after a 40-minute flight from Damascus and was received on the ground by a military band at the tarmac.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/ ... 48649.html
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:57 pm

Nowhere is safe:
UN warns of urgent danger


Hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing a fierce government push are being squeezed into ever-smaller areas near Turkey's border under horrendous conditions, including below-freezing temperatures that are killing babies and children, the United Nations humanitarian chief has warned

Addressing the UN Security Council, Mark Lowcock said on Wednesday the "unfolding humanitarian catastrophe" in Syria's northwestern Idlib province had overwhelmed efforts to deliver and provide aid.

Nearly 900,000 people, more than half of whom are children, have fled their homes since December 1, when Russian-backed Syrian government forces pressed ahead with a military offensive to push out opposition fighters from their last stronghold in the country.

"They are moving into increasingly crowded areas they think will be safer," Lowcock said.

"But in Idlib, nowhere is safe."

'Catastrophic human suffering'

Lowcock said hostilities are now all around areas densely populated with "terrified" people who have fled "on foot or on the backs of trucks". They are now in Dana and Sarmada, in the direction of the shut Bab al-Hawa border crossing with neighbouring Turkey, in what has been the biggest wave of displacement since the start of the war nearly nine years ago.

Nearly 300 civilians have been killed in attacks this year in the northwest region, with 93 percent of the deaths caused by Syrian and Russian forces, according to the UN.

Earlier on Wednesday, UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen echoed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' alarm at the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation "and the tragic suffering of civilians".

"Hostilities are now approaching densely populated areas such as Idlib city and Bab al-Hawa border crossing, which has among the highest concentration of displaced civilians in northwest Syria and also serves as a humanitarian lifeline," he said.

Pedersen warned, "The potential for further mass displacement and even more catastrophic human suffering is apparent, as an increasing number of people are hemmed into an ever-shrinking space."

He said Russia and Turkey, as sponsors of a fragile ceasefire in Idlib, "can and must play a key role in finding a way to deescalate the situation now", though meetings between delegations of the two countries in Ankara, Munich and Moscow in recent days and contacts between the two presidents have not produced results.

"To the contrary, public statements from different quarters, Syrian and international, suggest an imminent danger of further escalation," Pedersen said.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said Pedersen the statements at the Security Council reflected an "exceedingly bleak" situation unfolding on the ground in northwest Syria.

"What we heard today is something of deep gloom and of the greatest concern for the Security Council," he said.

Erdogan: Idlib operation 'imminent'

The council's meeting comes as Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict but have collaborated towards what they say is a political solution to the nearly nine-year war, exchanged warnings.

"An operation in Idlib is imminent," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his party's legislators in Parliament on Wednesday. "We are counting down, we are making our final warnings".

Ankara, which supports several rebel groups in northwest Syria, has been outraged since recent Syrian government attacks in Idlib province killed 13 Turkish military personnel in two weeks. It is also eager to prevent another flood of refugees into its territory adding to the 3.6 million Syrians it already hosts.

Responding to Erdogan's comments, Russia - the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - said any operation against Syrian forces in Idlib would be the "worst scenario".

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Hatay at the Turkey-Syria border, said both sides "haven't been able to make a breakthrough" in talks.

He added that next week would be "crucial" in determining whether Ankara will step up its operations in Idlib.

Erdogan has repeatedly said Syrian government forces in Idlib must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by the end of February, warning that if they did not do so, Ankara would drive them back.

Turkey has set up 12 observation posts in Idlib as part of a 2018 deal with Russia.

Syrian troops have reconquered swaths of Idlib and retaken the key strategic M5 highway connecting the country's four largest cities, as well as the entire surroundings of Aleppo city for the first time since 2012.

In rare remarks earlier this week, al-Assad pledged to continue the offensive, saying the war was not yet over but a "complete victory" was in sight. Damascus and Moscow maintain the military operation in Idlib is aimed at driving out "terrorists" from the region.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/ ... 53233.html
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:40 pm

Turkish operation in Idlib
only a matter of time


Turkey has sent thousands of soldiers to reinforce observer positions in Idlib province

Turkey's president has said it is "only a matter of time" before it launches an operation to stop a Syrian army assault on opposition-held Idlib province.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that he was determined to transform the border area into a safe place "at any cost".

Syria's government and its ally Russia have rejected his demand to pull back to ceasefire lines agreed in 2018.

The offensive has displaced some 900,000 civilians, including half a million children, since 1 December.

Hundreds have been killed during that period, the vast majority of them victims of attacks by the Syrian government and its allies, according to the UN. Children are also dying from the cold, including a one-year-old girl and a seven-month-old boy.

"Hostilities are now approaching densely populated areas. People are on the move in freezing temperatures in search of safety which has become ever more difficult," UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

The UN's humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that if the fighting reached these heavily populated areas, the human cost would be instant and huge.

Secretary General António Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire.
Interactive See how one of the IDP camps in Idlib province has expanded
16 Feb 2020

Idlib is the last stronghold of the rebel and jihadist fighters who have been trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

In recent years an influx of displaced people has doubled its population to about three million, including one million children.

Turkey, which backs the opposition to Mr Assad and fears another massive influx of Syrian refugees, has deployed troops to observation posts in Idlib under an agreement with Russia that set up a de-escalation zone - the 2018 Sochi accord.

However, it has failed to stop the Syrian army retaking large parts of the province with the help of Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militiamen.

The latest government offensive and the ensuing flight of civilians towards the Turkish border prompted Turkey's military to start reinforcing its positions in Idlib in January. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks have since arrived.

Earlier this month, after several Turkish personnel were killed in artillery attacks that Turkish officials blamed on the Syrian army, Mr Erdogan told the government to pull back to the line of Turkish observation posts or face military action.

On Tuesday, a Turkish presidential spokesman said talks between Turkish and Russian delegations in Moscow had not yielded a "satisfactory result". A Russian proposal to "redraw" the de-escalation zone was not acceptable and it was "out of the question" for Turkey to move its observation posts, Ibrahim Kalin explained.

Image

In a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party on Wednesday, Mr Erdogan warned: "We are entering the last days for the [Syrian] regime to stop its hostility in Idlib."

"We are making our final warnings," he said. "We did not reach the desired results in our talks [with Russia]. The talks will continue, but it is true that we are far from meeting our demands at the table.

"Turkey has made every preparation to carry out its own operational plans. I say that we can come at any point. In other words, the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time," the president added.

A Kremlin spokesman responded quickly to the threat, saying: "If we are talking about an operation against the legitimate authorities of the Syrian republic and armed forces of the Syrian republic this would of course be the worst scenario."

But Dmitry Peskov added that Russia would not object if the Turkish military took action against the "terrorist groups in Idlib", in line with the Sochi accord.

Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels have carried out three operations in northern Syria since 2016, though not directly against Russian-backed government forces.

Last October, they drove US-backed Kurdish militia fighters from territory between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain. Some 300,000 people were displaced and 120 civilians were killed during the operation, according to a monitoring group.

A Syrian girl walks past a tent at a makeshift displacement camp in Idlib province, Syria (18 February 2020) Image copyright AFP

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed horror at the scale of the humanitarian crisis in north-western Syria on Tuesday, saying it was cruel beyond belief that displaced civilians living in makeshift camps were being attacked.

"Entire families, some who have fled from one corner of Syria to the other over the course of the past decade, are tragically finding that bombs are part of their everyday life," she told reporters in Geneva. "How can anyone justify carrying out such indiscriminate and inhumane attacks?"

Since 1 January, UN officials have recorded the deaths of 299 civilians. Almost all of those deaths were caused by the Syrian government and its allies.

In addition, 10 medical facilities and 19 educational buildings have either been directly hit or affected by strikes close by. Displacement camps have also been hit.

Asked if they were being deliberately targeted by the government and Russia, Ms Bachelet's spokesman said: "The sheer quantity of attacks on hospitals, medical facilities and schools would suggest they cannot all be accidental."

Ms Bachelet called on the Syrian government and its allies to allow humanitarian corridors into conflict areas, and to allow for the safe passage of civilians.

In a separate development on Wednesday, the first passenger flight for more than eight years between Damascus and Syria's second city, Aleppo, took place.

Syrian state media quoted the head of Aleppo airport saying the resumption of the 35-minute flight was a result of the army's victory against terrorism.

Meanwhile, two Oxfam aid workers have been killed in the southern province of Deraa, the charity has said.

Wissam Hazim and Adel al-Halabi were travelling in a vehicle when it was attacked by a so-far unidentified armed group.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51558770
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:46 am

Turkey’s impossible
contradictions in Syria


In case anyone lost track or stopped paying attention, Turkey, Russia, and the Bashar al-Assad regime are now fighting each other in Syria. A few weeks ago, the Assad regime began making serious military advances in Idlib, the last Sunni-Arab opposition-held province of Syria

Turkish military observation posts scattered throughout Idlib came under fire from Syrian artillery and Syrian-Russian air strikes as well during the past week, killing up to 20 Turkish soldiers and wounding several more. Turkey responded with its own bombardments and even an attack by its forces and proxy rebel groups on an Assad-regime held town in Idlib, killing scores of Syrian troops and pro-Assad militiamen.

This is all occurring at the same time that Turkey and Russia cooperate with joint military patrols along the majority-Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria that Turkey invaded in October. While Turkish troops come under fire from Russian air strikes, Turkey also continues to purchase Russian gas and even weapons systems, such as the recently delivered S-400 air defense units. The purchase of these Russian weapons systems got Ankara kicked out of the American F-35 fighter jet program and still risks American sanctions against Turkey.

Caught in the middle of all this are Syrian civilians. Tens of thousands of Kurds and other groups in northeastern Syria remain displaced since Turkey’s October invasion. In northern Idlib province, the mostly Sunni-Arab population would prefer Turkey to remain there (in contrast to the Kurds’ view a little to the east). With Assad’s forces on the move and their hospitals and homes the target of Russian air strikes, hundreds of thousands of Idlib’s population now find themselves fleeing northwards towards the Turkish border. Turkey, already hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, has no appetite for a new influx of Syrians.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must therefore try and balance impossibly contradictory objectives and positions. Just as he and his government were in the midst of a shift away from the United States towards Russia, they were rudely reminded that Russia backs opposing forces in Syria (as well as Libya and a few other places). In an ironic twist, Turkey reportedly requested that the United States deploy Patriot air defense batteries to their border with Syria to help protect them from Russian air strikes. These would be the same Patriot systems Turkey declined in favor of the S-400s. The Russian S-400 systems Ankara took delivery of in August are not yet operational.

If Turkey were still under the secular rule of its Kemalist old guard, things would have looked very different today. Turkey would never have backed Islamists against the Assad regime. Ankara would have cooperated with the United States against Islamic State (ISIS) radicals setting up shop right on its border. This in turn would have removed America’s motivation to ally with PKK-aligned Kurdish groups in Syria.

If Turkey had taken action against jihadis on its border, Syria’s Kurds might not have even had to take up arms to defend themselves from these radicals – gaining a new sense of pride, organizational capacity and identity in the process and suddenly looming large as a threat in the Turkish imagination. Turkey’s relationship with America, Europe and NATO would thus not have fallen into question under such circumstances.

Under an Islamist or “Sunni Muslim nationalist” president and party since 2002, Turkey now finds itself in a quandary instead. Turkey’s goals in Syria, centered on putting a Sunni Muslim Islamist regime into power in Damascus, contradict the goals of virtually every other significant state with a horse in the race. Russia, America, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran may not agree on much, but none of them wish to see an Erdogan-aligned Muslim brotherhood take over from Assad. Now that it seems clear the Assad regime has won the civil war and is not going anywhere, Turkey also has no idea how to extricate itself from Syria, even as it comes under mounting pressure there. If the Americans also lack a strategy in Syria, at least the problem does not lie right in their backyard.

Russia, Iran, and Assad, meanwhile, enjoy clear and achievable goals in Syria: they want to see the Assad regime reassert control over the entire country. Faced with such concerted opposition, Ankara seems to have now entered a process of re-evaluating its relationship with Washington, hoping that not too many bridges were burned over the Kurds, Fetullah Gulen, Turkish aid to jihadi groups, beating up of protestors during visits to Washington, S-400 purchases, spats with Israel, brinksmanship on the Mediterranean, accusations that the US ambassador was behind the 2016 coup attempt, and all kinds of anti-American rhetoric.

Luckily for Mr. Erdogan, leaders in Washington seem to have short memories and an indefatigable appreciation for Turkey’s importance.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/25022020
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:40 am

Air strike in Syria's Idlib
kills 29 Turkish troops


At least 29 Turkish soldiers have been killed in an air strike by Syrian "regime forces" in north-western Syria

More were hurt in Idlib province, said Rahmi Dogan, the governor of Turkey's Hatay province. Other reports put the death toll higher.

Turkey is now retaliating against Syrian troops government targets.

Syrian forces supported by Russia are trying to retake Idlib from rebels who are backed by Turkish soldiers.

The Syrian authorities have so far made no public comments on the latest escalation in Idlib, the last Syrian province to remain in opposition hands.

The Turkish military began hitting back at the Syrian targets after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an urgent top-level security meeting in Ankara.

Image

The Turkish leader wants the Syrian government forces to pull back from positions where Turkey has set up military observation posts and had earlier threatened to attack them if they did not halt their advance.

But Syria's government and Russia have rejected his demand to pull back to ceasefire lines agreed in 2018. Russia has also accused Turkey of violating the 2018 ceasefire by backing rebels with artillery fire.

The UK-based monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said at least 34 Turkish troops had been killed in Thursday evening's air strike.

The wounded had been brought back to Turkey for treatment, Mr Dogan said.

"All known" Syrian government targets were under fire by Turkish air and land support units, Turkey's communications director Fahrettin Altun was quoted by state news agency Anadolu as saying. Turkey had decided to "respond in kind" to the attack, Mr Altun said.

Meanwhile, Nato-member Turkey said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had spoken to Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

A huge new element of risk
By Sebastian Usher, BBC World Service Middle East editor

This is a new and dangerous escalation in an increasingly direct conflict between Turkish and Syrian government forces in Idlib. Both sides have suffered losses over the past few weeks. But the latest Turkish casualties come at a precarious moment.

President Erdogan has threatened to mount a major military operation against President Assad's forces if they don't pull back from frontline positions near Turkish troops in Idlib within the next two days.

For now there's no sign of that happening. Turkey has already been stepping up its military support for the rebel fighters it backs as they mount a counter offensive to try to win back key towns they've recently lost.

Behind this conflict looms the potential of an even bigger confrontation. Turkey and Russia have backed different sides in Syria, but have come together to broker battlefield deals in the past few years.

That pragmatic rapprochement is now in doubt. Russian airpower has provided vital support for Syrian forces - if it is now being directed at Turkish military positions, that creates a huge new element of risk.

The latest clashes came after the Turkey-backed rebels said they had retaken the strategic town of Saraqeb from Syrian government forces on Thursday.

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters ride on a tank in the town of Saraqeb, Syria's Idlib province. Photo: 27 February 2020 Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Turkey-backed Syrian fighters were seen taking positions in the town of Saraqeb on Thursday

The fighting in Idlib has driven nearly a million Syrians from their homes since December. The UN said a full-scale battle there could result in a "bloodbath".

Reuters news agency quoted a senior Turkish official on Thursday as saying that Turkey had decided to stand down its border guards and no longer prevent Syrian refugees from trying to reach Europe. However, this has not been officially confirmed.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Erdogan said three Turkish soldiers had been killed in an air strike in Idlib.

Turkey's defence ministry said it had responded to that incident by hitting Syrian "regime targets".

Russia has rejected calls in the UN Security Council for a humanitarian ceasefire in northern Syria.

Responding to a statement from Belgium and Germany that the killing of civilians must stop, the Russian ambassador said the only solution was to chase what he called the terrorists from the country.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51667717
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:49 am

Syria: Why is the world
indifferent to Idlib?


The United Nations has warned the world is facing the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad close in on Syria's last opposition stronghold, forcing more than one million people to flee into an ever shrinking space at the closed and fortified border with Turkey

The battle for Idlib has caused the biggest displacement of people so far in Syria's nine-year civil war and more than half of the million people now living in tents and out in the open in freezing temperatures are children, according to the UN.

Assad's key ally Russia controls the airspace over Idlib and has been bombing Turkey-backed rebels in support of a months-long offensive by government forces. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given Syrian government forces until the end of February to halt their offensive or Turkish forces will defend Idlib city.

The UN, using notably strong language, has said that a "bloodbath for civilians" is imminent if a ceasefire cannot be agreed.

On this episode of The Stream, we ask why Idlib is not getting more attention from the world's media and governments, and whether anything can be done to spare the civilians trapped between the warring sides.

Link to informative video:

https://youtu.be/gVRlMzhCE5I
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:58 pm

Turkish troops working
with terrorists in Idlib


Turkish troops targeted by Syrian regime forces on Thursday were embedded with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadists, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday

As tensions escalate between opposition-supporter Turkey and regime-backer Russia, Moscow has deployed two frigates armed with cruise missiles to the Syrian Mediterranean coast.

NATO officials will meet later on Friday (yesterday) to discuss the situation.

On Thursday, at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed and scores more wounded in an air strike on their positions in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, according to Turkish officials.

Turkey believes the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack. Ankara has since launched retaliatory strikes with drones and artillery against Syrian army positions, killing 16 regime soldiers, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Turkish military, who were in the terrorist units’ battle formations, came under Syrian troops’ fire near the inhabited community of Behun on February 27,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.

In televised remarks, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar rejected the Russian claim.

“I want to state that during this attack, there were no armed groups around our military units,” said Akar.

The strikes took place “despite coordination with Russian officials” and the bombardment continued despite “warning” of the Turkish troops’ presence, he added.

Under the 2018 Sochi deal with Russia, Turkey was supposed to establish a de-confliction zone around the last rebel-holdout of Idlib – home to millions of Syrians displaced from regime areas. Under the deal, Turkey established 12 military observation posts inside Idlib.

However, near the end of 2019, the Russian-backed regime launched a new offensive to retake the province.

The province is dominated by HTS, a coalition of Islamist armed groups, dominated by the former Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Fearing a new mass influx of Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey, Ankara sent troops and military hardware to shore up its Syrian rebel allies and stall the regime advance.

According to the Russian defense ministry, HTS was going to “attempt to launch a large-scale offensive” in Idlib against Syrian government positions.

Although the Russian air force has pounded targets inside Idlib in recent weeks, including civilian infrastructure, Moscow insists it did not conduct Thursday’s air strike which killed the Turkish troops.

“Aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were not used near the inhabited community of Behun,” the defense ministry said.

Russian officials said they ordered the Syrian military to stop firing after receiving information about Turkish casualties, according to Russian wire service Interfax.

The agency said two Russian frigates, the Admiral Makarov and the Admiral Grigorovich, carrying Kalibr cruise missiles are now on their way to the Syrian Mediterranean coast.

NATO meets

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to discuss the Sochi deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“Today, a phone call between presidents Putin and Erdogan has been held at the initiative of the Turkish leader. The talks were detailed. They discussed the need to do everything possible to implement the original agreements on the de-escalation zone [in Idlib],” Lavrov said, according to TASS.

The Kremlin press service further elaborated that the two leaders have not ruled out a face-to-face meeting, with AFP reporting that they may meet in Moscow next week, according to a Friday evening statement from the Russian government.

"A possibility of a meeting at the highest level in Moscow on March 5 or 6 is being worked out at the moment," said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Both sides highlighted the need for additional measures to stabilize the situation in northwestern Syria,” it said.

Fearing the situation could escalate further, NATO held a meeting of its council on Friday, including the ambassadors of 29 member states, following a request from Turkey.

Speaking in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg threw his support behind Turkey and appealed for calm.

“I call on them to stop their offensive, to respect international law, and to back UN efforts for peaceful solution. This dangerous situation must be de-escalated, and we urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire,” Stoltenberg told a press conference.

The NATO chief said work should be done to avoid deepening the “horrendous” humanitarian situation in Idlib and to allow aid agencies access.

“Today’s meeting is a clear sign of solidarity with Turkey. Turkey is a valued NATO ally, and Turkey is the NATO ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks and which hosts millions of refugees,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO will assist Turkey by “augmenting” its air defenses, he added.

Turkish officials have called for a no-fly-zone over the region.

“The international community must act to protect civilians and impose a no-fly-zone,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, said on Twitter.

Russia’s Duma Defense Committee warned that any NATO interference in Syria would be “inadmissible”, according to Interfax.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... /280220201

I have read this twice and both times failed to find any information about Kurdish representatives joining the Putin/Erdogan meeting in Russia
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:16 am

Turkey intensifies
onslaught in Idlib


Turkey shot down two Syrian fighter jets on Sunday as it intensified military action in northern Syria

The pilots parachuted to safety over Idlib province, where Turkish troops and rebels have been clashing with Syrian government forces.

Turkey, which backs the opposition, said it had also targeted Syrian air defence systems and dozens of tanks.

Tensions in Idlib escalated sharply last week when at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike.

The incident sparked fears of a major escalation involving Turkey and Syria's main military ally, Russia.

But, on Sunday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the country did not want conflict with Russia.

"We expect Russia to stop the regime's attacks," he said in a televised statement. "We don't have the desire or intention to clash with Russia."

Mr Akar dubbed the latest operation against the Syrian army "Spring Shield". He said it had destroyed a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, as well as rocket launchers and other military equipment.

He added that 2,212 members of the Syrian forces had been "neutralised", a term used to mean killed, wounded or captured.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said 74 Syrian government troops and pro-Damascus fighters had been killed since 27 February.

The latest developments have strained relations between Ankara and Moscow. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Meanwhile, the EU has called an emergency foreign ministers' meeting over the conflict.
What's the context?

Syrian government forces, supported by Russia, have been trying to retake Idlib from jihadist groups and Turkish-backed rebel factions.

Idlib is the last Syrian province where Syrian rebel groups still control significant territory.

The Syrian government advance has displaced nearly a million civilians who have fled to areas near the Turkish border. Turkey says it is already hosting millions of refugees and does not have the resources to let more enter.

Turkey has some troops in observation points in Idlib under a 2018 agreement with Russia. President Erdogan had earlier threatened to confront Syrian government forces if they did not withdraw from positions near the Turkish observation posts.

The attack on Turkish troops last week came after Turkish-backed rebels retook the key town of Saraqeb, north-east of Balyun. Russia denies its own forces were involved in the fighting in the Balyun area.

But Russia and Turkey are backing opposing sides in the civil war. Turkey is opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad and supports some rebel groups.

Russia has rejected calls in the UN Security Council for a humanitarian ceasefire in northern Syria, saying the only solution is to chase what it calls terrorists from the country.

The Syrian government, which has regularly been accused of committing atrocities against civilians, says it is liberating Idlib from "terrorism".

The Turkish and Russian presidents spoke by phone on Friday. They both expressed concern and agreed on the need for "additional meaWhy is Turkey so deeply involved in Syria?
Why is Turkey so deeply involved in Syria?

Its long border with Syria has brought it into close contact with the civil war and its strong opposition to the Assad government has made it a natural destination for refugees.

But President Erdogan has said it cannot deal with the amount of people fleeing the civil war. Turkey has vowed to open its doors for migrants to travel to the EU.

Turkey is also actively trying to prevent Syria's Kurdish community establishing control over the border region, fearing that this would encourage Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself.

It has been accused of seeking to drive Kurds away from the border in order to establish a safe area within Syria to rehouse two million of the refugees it is hosting.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51697980
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:28 am

Turkey drone strikes
kill 19 Syrian soldiers


Nineteen Syrian soldiers have been killed in Turkish drone strikes on Idlib, a UK-based monitor has said

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the attacks targeted a military convoy and an army base amid increasing violence.

Turkey also shot down two Syrian fighter jets on Sunday.

Russia, a key backer of the Syrian government, has warned it cannot guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft in Syrian airspace.

Tensions in Idlib escalated sharply last week when at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike.

The incident sparked fears of a major escalation involving Turkey and Syria's main military ally, Russia.

What happened on Sunday?

The pilots of the two Syrian jets brought down on Sunday parachuted to safety over Idlib province, where Turkish troops and rebels have been clashing with Syrian government forces.

Syria, meanwhile, announced that it had brought down three Turkish drones.

Syrian state news said the country was closing its airspace in the north west of the country and that any aircraft that violated this would "be considered a hostile aircraft which must be downed".

Turkey, which backs rebels in Idlib, said it had also targeted Syrian air defence systems and dozens of tanks.

Turkey has stressed it does not want conflict with Russia during its latest operation in Idlib, dubbed "Spring Shield".

Turkey claims 2,212 members of the Syrian forces have been "neutralised", a term used to mean killed, wounded or captured.

But the SOHR said that just over 100 Syrian government troops and pro-Damascus fighters had been killed since 29 February.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, despite strained relations.

What's the context?

Syrian government forces, supported by Russia, have been trying to retake Idlib from jihadist groups and Turkish-backed rebel factions.

Idlib is the last Syrian province where Syrian rebel groups still control significant territory.

The Syrian government advance has displaced nearly a million civilians who have fled to areas near the Turkish border. Turkey says it is already hosting millions of refugees and does not have the resources to let more enter.

Turkey has some troops in observation points in Idlib under a 2018 agreement with Russia. President Erdogan had earlier threatened to confront Syrian government forces if they did not withdraw from positions near the Turkish observation posts.

The attack on Turkish troops last week came after Turkish-backed rebels retook the key town of Saraqeb, to the north east of Balyun. Russia denies its own forces were involved in the fighting in the Balyun area.

But Russia and Turkey are backing opposing sides in the civil war. Turkey is opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad and supports some rebel groups.

Russia has rejected calls in the UN Security Council for a humanitarian ceasefire in northern Syria, saying the only solution is to chase what it calls terrorists from the country.

The Syrian government, which has regularly been accused of committing atrocities against civilians, says it is liberating Idlib from "terrorism".

The Turkish and Russian presidents spoke by phone on Friday. They both expressed concern and agreed on the need for "additional measures" to normalise the situation.

Why is Turkey so deeply involved in Syria?

Its long border with Syria has brought it into close contact with the civil war and its strong opposition to the Assad government has made it a natural destination for refugees.

But President Erdogan has said it cannot deal with the amount of people fleeing the civil war. Turkey has vowed to open its doors for migrants to travel to the EU.

Turkey is also actively trying to prevent Syria's Kurdish community establishing control over the border region, fearing that this would encourage Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself.

It has been accused of seeking to drive Kurds away from the border in order to establish a safe area within Syria to rehouse two million of the refugees it is hosting.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51701069
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:44 am

Operation Spring Shield:

How far will Turkey’s latest Syria offensive go?

Despite Turkey’s launching of a major military operation against Syrian regime forces in Idlib, experts are doubtful that a large-scale war between Ankara and Damascus is likely.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on March 1 that Turkey had launched its ‘Operation Spring Shield’ in response to a Syrian airstrike that killed at least 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib on February 27.

The announcement coincided with Turkey shooting down two Syrian Air Force Su-24 Fencer bombers over Idlib, shortly after Syria shot down a Turkish drone over the province. Footage released by the Turkish Ministry of Defense also show Turkey’s military destroying several regime targets in recent days.

Russia is providing military support for the Syrian regime offensive, leading some to fear that Ankara and Moscow could clash in Idlib. However, Nicholas Heras, the Middle East Portfolio Manager at The Institute for the Study of War, told Rudaw English: “It is in neither Russia nor Turkey’s interest for a major conflict to break out between the Turkish military and Assad’s forces.”

On March 2, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he will visit Moscow to discuss the Idlib situation and expressed hopes that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “will take the necessary measures there, such as a ceasefire, and that we will find a solution to this affair”.

According to Heras, “Erdogan is seeking to use the Turkish military to push Assad’s forces back to the September 2018 Sochi lines.”

These lines were put in place after the Turkish army established 12 observation posts around Idlib under the Russian-sponsored Astana peace process. These were supposed to prevent conflict from breaking out between the Syrian regime and the militants, namely the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group, which controls the province.

However, Turkey failed to rein in the HTS as it was obligated to do under its September 2018 Sochi ceasefire agreement with Russia.

Max Hoffman, associate director of national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where his research focuses on Turkey and the Kurdish regions, also anticipates Turkey will halt its offensive “if and when it reaches what it considers to be the agreed-upon line – where its observation posts per the Sochi agreement were located.”

“After all, Turkey was willing to accept everything up to the latest stage of the regime and Russian offensive,” Hoffman told Rudaw English.

“But Ankara could not accept the final collapse of Idlib and the ensuing human displacement into Turkey, as the refugee issue was already a near-existential domestic political threat to Erdogan,” he added.

For years, Turkey has feared a major regime offensive in Idlib would displace millions and add to its enormous Syrian refugee population. Since the present regime offensive began in December, it has displaced at least 900,000 people, according to the United Nations.

“Erdogan is seeking to reset diplomacy with Russia in the context of the Astana process by reversing Russian-backed Assad regime military gains on the ground in Idlib,” Heras said.

Turkey – which has the second-largest army in the NATO alliance backed by hundreds of tanks, fighter jets, drones, attack helicopters, and modern artillery – is capable of afflicting severe damage on Assad’s far inferior forces, most of which are equipped with antiquated Soviet-era military hardware.

“The Turkish military has a qualitative advantage over Assad’s forces in airpower, especially the use of advanced armed drones, that when combined with Turkish military advice and assistance to Syrian rebels, is a major military challenge for Assad,” Heras said, referring to Turkey’s tens-of-thousands of Syrian militia proxies that fight under the banner of the self-styled Syrian National Army (SNA).

“Erdogan is carefully and skillfully managing the escalation chain in Idlib to use military momentum to build more leverage on Putin in the Astana process,” he said.

Moscow may not move to hinder Operation Spring Shield – although it has closed Syria’s northwestern airspace – provided Turkey’s objectives are limited to reversing recent Syrian advances.

“If Russia stands aside – as appears to be the case thus far – the Turkish military is more than capable of handling the Syrian regime forces,” Hoffman said.

However, he doubts that the present clashes will lead to “a major sustained conventional war” between Ankara and Damascus “beyond the hundreds of strikes and casualties we’ve already seen”.

This is because “neither side has the interest in a formal, drawn out conventional war, and the regime does not have the resources to sustain such a fight”.

“Ongoing clashes, hit-and-run attacks, and regime-sponsored bombings and assassinations in Turkish-controlled territories are possible,” Hoffman said, referring to other parts of Syria Turkey invaded and occupied since August 2016, including the Kurdish enclave of Afrin which neighbours Idlib.

“But Russia will seek to calm things down eventually, and Ankara’s primary goal is to reduce violence and the accompanying displacement, so it has no interest in a long conflict,” he concluded.

Iran, the staunchest supporter of the Syrian regime and the third member of the tripartite Astana peace process, might also exert its influence in Syria to prevent this conflict from escalating any further.

Turkish strikes in Idlib have already killed at least nine fighters belonging to the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and wounded 30.

Hassan Danaefer, a foreign policy analyst and former Iranian ambassador to Iraq, told Iranian media all efforts should be made to prevent the conflict from escalating, insisting that this is the “wise policy that we all need to follow”.

He said Iran seeks to prevent further conflicts from breaking out in the region and is capable of acting as “a benevolent mediator” in Idlib.

Since a full-fledged war between Ankara and Damascus would likely severely weaken the latter, Iran may well also push for de-escalation in Idlib in the coming days before the situation spirals out of control.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... /020320201
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:04 am

Images reveal
Idlib destruction


Image
Satellite images from 20 July 2018 (top) and 26 May 2019 (bottom) showing damaged or destroyed buildings and apparent aerial bombardment in Idlib province

Please follow link for photos:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51734748
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:44 pm

Kurdish issue in Syria
is ‘illusive and a lie’


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed Thursday that the “Kurdish issue” does not exist in his country, calling it “illusive and a lie”. He also claimed that Kurds living in northern areas are originally from Turkey

“Regarding the so-called ‘Kurdish issue’, there is nothing called a ‘Kurdish issue’ in Syria for a simple reason: Kurds have been living in Syria throughout history but some [Kurdish] groups who live the north came [to Syria] during the last century due to Turkish [government] oppression,” Assad told Rossiya-24 in an interview aired on Thursday.

“We hosted them in Syria. Kurds, Armenians, and other different groups in Syria and there have been no problems... Why should there be an issue with Kurds?” he said.

“They took citizenship in Syria although they were originally not Syrians. Therefore, we are always positive towards the subject of Kurds. The so-called ‘Kurdish issue’ is not true but illusive and a lie,” he added.

Kurds in Syria were politically and culturally marginalized for decades. However, the eruption of civil war in 2011 gave the Kurds an opportunity to declare a self-governed autonomous region in the north and expand it eastward for the first time in Syrian history.

The Kurdish-controlled region is now called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), traditionally known by Kurds as Western Kurdistan. It is dominated by Democratic Union Party (PYD) which was founded in 2003 in Syria.

The PYD is seen by Damascus and Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting the Turkish state for decades.

Although Assad refers to the group as “separatists”, his father Hafez used to provide the PKK with military and logistical support.

“The problem is with those groups who began pursuing separatist ambitions decades ago, especially in the early 80s,” Assad said

A 1996 report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated: “In 1962, an exceptional census stripped some 120,000 Syrian Kurds – 20 percent of the Syrian Kurdish population – of their Syrian citizenship. By many accounts, the special census was carried out in an arbitrary manner.”

“Brothers from the same family, born in the same Syrian village, were classified differently. Fathers became foreigners while their sons remained citizens. The number of stateless Kurds grew with time as descendants of those who lost citizenship in 1962 multiplied; as a result, their number is now estimated at 300,000,” it added.

In the early months of the 2011 uprising, Assad asked a committee to examine the 1962 census and granted citizenship to between 150,000 and 300,000 Kurds, mostly from Hasaka province in northeast Syria.

The NES and its armed wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), enjoy strong relations with the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group (ISIS). The SDF is dominated by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the military arm of the PYD.

However, the NES has also maintained contact with Damascus, and Kurdish forces have largely avoided getting embroiled in the anti-regime movement.

The Kurds have held multiple meetings with Syrian government officials but have failed to reach an agreement on the political future of the Kurdish-held areas.

After Turkey invaded northeast Syria in October 2019, the Kurds struck a deal with the Assad government to allow regime forces and Russian military police to secure Syria’s northern border.

Assad has long said he intends to retake every inch of Syria from rebel forces, including Rojava.

“We are in contact with Kurdish political groups who are present in the northern areas in Syria,” Assad said in his interview with Russian state media, without specifying which groups.

“However, the problem is that some of these groups, not all of them, are controlled by the US authorities.”

“We do not mean all Kurds, because a great number of Kurds are from the tribal and national groups in Syria who support the government. These groups have no voice and a small number who allied with Americans are dominant in the area,” he said.

The regime will not strike a deal with the SDF and Kurdish authorities unless they renounce US support, oppose Turkish involvement in Syria, and pledge allegiance to the Syrian government.

“We cannot reach a conclusion in any of our talks with them, although we have held them a thousand times, unless they announce a clear national position and be against the US and invasion, and against Turkey as well because they are invaders as well,” Assad added.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... /050320201
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Re: Destruction of Western Kurdistan by absolutely EVERYONE

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:11 am

Assad commends ceasefire

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “praised” the recent Idlib ceasefire negotiated between Ankara and Moscow, according to a readout from the Kremlin

The ceasefire, which began at midnight, comes amid weeks of heavy fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in the northwestern province. Assad’s battle to reclaim control of Idlib, touted as the last rebel bastion, has displaced nearly a million civilians since December.

The Russian president “updated Bashar al-Assad on the agreements reached during the Russian-Turkish summit held on March 5, stressing that their implementation will help stabilise the situation in the Idlib zone,” read the readout from Kremlin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Moscow on Thursday, discussing recent developments in Idlib. Both leaders agreed on a ceasefire between all groups, including a halt to the recent clashes between Turkish and Syrian regime forces.

"Bashar Assad praised the outcome of talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders and expressed gratitude to the Russian president for the support to the fight against terrorist groups and efforts aimed at ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria," the readout added.

Syrian state media SANA outlet reported that Assad “expressed satisfaction” over Putin and Erdogan's talks on Thursday, saying they could have“ potential positive effects” on the Syrian people on “humanitarian, social, and economic levels, if the Turkish side commits to them.”

The ceasefire was the result of almost six hours of talks in Moscow on Thursday and has been adhered to so far.

“All military activities will be halted in the Idlib de-escalation zone, starting from March 6, 2020 at 00:01,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu told a press conference in Moscow on Thursday.

Joint Turkish and Russian patrols will begin on Syria's strategic M4 highway on March 15, Cavusolgu added.

"A safe corridor will be established 6km north and 6km south of the M4 highway. The principles will be determined within seven days,” he added.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allied groups – backed by Russian air force – launched an offensive against former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadists and their allied rebel groups in Idlib and neighboring Aleppo in December, retaking areas held by the opposition since 2011.

Ankara launched Operation Spring Shield last Thursday after the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in regime strikes.

In an interview with Rossiya-24 aired on Thursday, Assad said the Turkish and Syrian people have important cross-cultural bonds.

“We talk about Turks as our brotherly people… I am asking the Turkish people: what is your problem with Syria? What is the problem over which Turkish citizens need to die?” he said, according to RT.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... /060320202
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