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Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: US withdrawal from Syria will not weaken the struggle

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Dec 25, 2018 5:34 pm

U.S. led coalition reports recent air strikes on ISIS in Syria

The U.S. led coalition in Syria conducted air strikes last week that destroyed facilities used by Islamic State, the coalition said on Tuesday, less than a week after President Donald Trump declared victory over the militant group and said he would withdraw U.S. troops from the war-torn country.

The coalition said its attacks during the week of Dec. 16-22, including air strikes and “coordinated fires,” had destroyed logistics facilities and staging areas used by Islamic State, damaged the group’s ability to finance its activities and “removed several hundred ISIS fighters from the battlefield.”

“ISIS presents a very real threat to the long-term stability in this region and our mission remains the same, the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said UK Major General Christopher Ghika, the deputy commander of the coalition.

ISIS is a commonly used acronym referring to Islamic State

That statement presents a contrast to Trump’s declaration last week that U.S. troops had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State and were no longer needed in the country.

News of the withdrawal drew immediate criticism from some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who said that leaving would strengthen the hand of Russia and Iran, which both support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In response to Trump, Britain’s Foreign Office said last week that Islamic State remained a threat even though it held no territory.

The withdrawal may also leave exposed an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militants known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which has been among the most effective against Islamic State, but is now seen under threat as Turkey weighs a new offensive in Syria.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afgh ... SKCN1OO07B
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Re: US withdrawal from Syria will not weaken the struggle

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Re: US withdrawal from Syria will not weaken the struggle

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:45 pm

Turkey masses tanks on the Syrian border
Erdogan prepares to move against the Kurds


    The outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis thanks troops for their service

    Tanks and armoured vehicles are moving to Turkey's southern border with Syria

    Turkish foreign minister says forces will push into Syria 'as soon as possible'

    Erdogan has vowed to take over the fight against ISIS in Syria

    But Turkey will also likely target Kurdish forces which helped US fight ISIS
Turkey has begun massing tanks and troop carriers on its southern border with Syria as it prepares to move into the country once American soldiers have left.

Erdogan's forces were pictured arriving in border cities of Kilis and al-Rai after the country's foreign minister said they will push into Syria as soon as possible.

It comes after Donald Trump announced that all 2,000 American troops will withdraw from the country and that Turkey will take over the fight against ISIS.

Turkey is also likely to direct its attacks against Kurdish forces stationed in northern Syria which helped US troops in the battle against ISIS.

Turkey has carried out limited attacks against Kurdish positions in Afrin province, and has vowed to expand its operations to cover its entire southern border.

But plans stalled amid push-back from Washington that saw US relations with its NATO ally set in the deep freeze.

However, Trump has since tweeted that Turkey and America are planning to increase trade and strengthen ties as US troops begin a 'low and highly coordinated' withdrawal from Syria.

As part of the agreement, America will take back weapons it gave to the Kurdish forces during the fight with ISIS.

In return, Erdogan vowed to delay a military campaign against the Kurds, but on Tuesday foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu indicated it would go ahead as soon as practically possible.

Trump's shock announcement has caused concern in Washington and prompted the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

As he submitted his letter of resignation to Trump on December 26, Mattis issued a videotaped Christmas message to all American servicemen and women.

In it, he said: 'Since Washington crossed the Delaware at Christmas in 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home to defend our experiment in democracy.

'To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018 on land, at sea or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe.'

Mattis's resignation letter initially said he would be leaving his post at the end of January, but that date was rushed forward after Trump found out it criticised him.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be named as acting secretary effective from January 1.

Elsewhere, Syrian government troops backed by Russian forces sent extra troops towards the city of Manbij in preparation for an attack.

The city is currently controlled by a Kurdish militia, which helped to coordinate the movements and will withdraw before the attack takes place.

The move is part of the wider buildup of forces in the area.

'The battle will soon start,' Major Youssef Hamoud, spokesman for the National Army, the main Turkish-backed rebel force in the area, told Reuters.

'What we see on the front now is reinforcements to all forces to reach full preparedness for the battle.'

'The Russian army has restored the Syrian-Russian coordination centre to Arima village to the west of Manbij city, after its withdrawal from there a while ago,' said Sharfan Darwish, the spokesman for the Manbij Military Council.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... leave.html
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Re: Turkey has tanks on Syrian border preparing to attack Ku

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:15 am

Pro-Turkish rebels reinforce near city in northern Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters raise the opposition flag as they arrive in the rebel-held town of Qirata after leaving their barracks in Jarablus, en-route to Manbij, on December 25, 2018

Jarabulus (Syria) (AFP) - Pro-Turkish armed groups have reinforced their presence on the outskirts of the city of Manbij in northern Syria as Ankara threatens a new offensive against Kurdish forces, sources said Wednesday.

Turkey announced in mid-December that it would launch a fresh military campaign against the Kurdish People's Protection Units, a militia in Syria that Ankara considers a terrorist group.

The United States has backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as part of an international coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group.

But a surprise announcement by US President Donald Trump a week ago that he will pull American troops out of the country has left the Kurds exposed to attack.

Pro-Turkish factions and opposing fighters in the city of Manbij are "consolidating their positions and massing reinforcements on the demarcation line" separating the two sides, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor.

"Military operations haven't started -- there are no clashes or skirmishes," he said.

Turkey has massed reinforcements at the border, and dispatched tanks and armoured vehicles near Manbij, which hosts American troops and where Ankara says Kurdish forces also remain present.

Dozens of pro-Turkish fighters equipped with assault rifles were seen near the city of Jarablus in mud-splattered pick-up trucks on Tuesday, travelling to join sectors near the demarcation line, an AFP correspondent said.

But the situation was calm, he added.

- 'Final preparations for battle' -

The pro-Turkish Al-Jaish al-Watani rebel coalition said Wednesday it was finalising preparations for the planned offensive.

"We are in final preparations for the battle of Manbij, then (the battle) east of the Euphrates" river, the group's spokesman Yussef Hammud said on Wednesday.

He told AFP that the offensive would be in line with the "US withdrawal from the region".

"We await the political agreements between the US and Turkey concerning the withdrawal", he said.

The YPG says it has already left Manbij, but Ankara maintains that there has been no pullout of Kurdish forces from the city.

Sherfane Darwish, a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council -- a faction affiliated to the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces - has said his forces are on a "state of alert" due to military movements by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies.

"There is an increased mobilisation of reinforcements at the border, and we are monitoring that", he told AFP.

"Patrols by the (international) coalition are still taking place -- nothing has changed. We are ready to repulse any attack", he said.

More than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria's war erupted in 2011.

The brutal repression of anti-government protests was followed by various countries intervening militarily in support of and against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

https://news.yahoo.com/pro-turkish-rebe ... 54800.html
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Re: Pro-Turkish rebels reinforce near city in northern Syria

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:35 pm

Government forces 'enter Manbij' amid Turkey threats

The Syrian army has entered the key northern city of Manbij for the first time in six years, an army spokesman has said

However the US-led coalition operating in the area said it had not seen military changes inside Manbij.

A US official and a UK-based monitoring group said Syrian troops had deployed in the area around the city.

US-backed Kurds withdrew and invited Syrian forces to replace them amid fears that Turkish troops would attack.

Turkey considers the US-backed Kurdish YPG forces to be part of a terrorist group.

The Kurds' request to the Syrian government followed the shock announcement that all US troops are to withdraw from Syria.

But that claim has been disputed by important allies who say the move could lead to a resurgence of ISIS.

What have the key players said?

The Syrian army said it had raised a flag in Manbij. In a televised statement, a spokesman said the troops were there to "crush terrorism and defeat all invaders and occupiers".

However a US official told Reuters that US troops had not changed their positions in Manbij and dozens still remained. The official said they had seen Syrian forces on the outskirts of the city but not inside it.

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group said reports of changes to military forces in the city were "incorrect".

Nura al-Hamed, deputy head of the Manbij local authority, told AFP that the Syrian army deployment would "not enter the city of Manbij itself but will deploy on the demarcation line" with Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

US and French coalition forces in the area remained at their positions and were continuing to conduct patrols, Ms Hamed told AFP.

Russia, which has been fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2015, said the arrival of Syrian government troops would "help stabilise the situation".

"The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces... is without doubt a positive trend," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.


Effort to deter Turkey

By Martin Patience, Middle East Correspondent, BBC News

The consequences of President Trump's surprise announcement to withdraw all US troops from Syria are now being seen on the ground.

Manbij is a strategically important town in northern Syria that until today was under the control of US-backed Kurdish forces.

The Kurds - who led the fight against IS - see Mr Trump's decision as a betrayal.

Without the support of the Americans, Kurdish leaders are now being forced to choose what they regard as the least bad option.

They will be hoping that the presence of the Syrian government army - which is backed by Russia and Iran - will deter Turkey from launching an attack.


What's the context?

Turkey has been intensifying its military activity near positions held by Kurdish fighters since President Trump's withdrawal announcement on 19 December.

US soldiers have been working closely with Kurdish forces who form part of an alliance - the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - in the battle against IS.

But this policy has infuriated Turkey, which is battling the militia in the nearby city of Afrin.

It also says it is frustrated over what it sees as delays to a deal agreed with the US to clear Manbij of Kurdish fighters.

The deal over the city, which lies to the west of the Euphrates river, was agreed in February in a bid stabilise the region.

The US also has soldiers in Manbij, which was taken from ISIS by forces led by the Kurdish YPG in 2016.



Full Article:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46701095
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Re: Kurds ask government to enter Manbij amid Turkey threats

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:22 am

Murat Karayilan: Trump’s decision didn’t surprise us

Member Murat Karayilan said US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria wasn’t a surprise to him

Murat Karayilan appeared on the Special Program hosted by Rosida Merdin on the Denge Welat radio and stated that the Turkish state has strived for years and only finally managed to convince parts of the US government to reinstate the conspiracy: “The inter-state conspiracy concept is out now, and it will be overcome.”

TRUMP’S DECISION IS NO SURPRISE

Murat Karayilan said US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria is a continuation of the US State Department decision to put prizes on 3 leaders of the Kurdish Freedom Movement on November 6, and is necessitated by the international conspiracy line: “This decision is not a surprise for us. We know the truth of each force, what they can and can’t do, this characteristic of hegemonic powers and how they approach the Kurds. Revolutionaries in Rojava were basing themselves on the 3rd path, building relationships with all but not relying on any. So I don’t assume any problems will arise there.”

Karayilan added that the Rojava Revolution started in 2012 and fought Al Nusra and ISIS gangs for 2 years on its own strength alone (and prevailed), adding that the US arrived in 2015. Karayilan also said the US has cast a shadow over all the efforts with certain practices of theirs and with this decision to withdraw, that shadow will also be lifted.

CONSPIRACY PATH TO BE OVERCOME

Karayilan said the Turkish state has been striving to have the conspiracy path to be implemented against Kurds, demanding that all powers take a stand against them, but the US participation to this approach by Turkey has been weak. Karayilan continued: “Because there are many inside the US government who are against this decision, they don’t think this is right. Europe doesn’t think this is right, they are not joining in. Some countries have expressly stated that they won’t be withdrawing. There was a previous European Court of Justice ruling on the PKK that could be considered positive. Maybe there won’t be utterly effective stands that affect the outcome, but the emerging truth is this: Those who want to continue the path of the conspiracy are the fascist Turkish state and the limited circle around Trump in the US government. This is not like 1999 when several states were involved and the conspiracy was strong and extensive enough to affect us. In this sense, the foundation for not only voiding the path of conspiracy but utterly defeating it and taking it off the table is strong. This has been seen clearly. The Turkish state has strived for years, but only managed to decide to reinstate the conspiracy with part of the US government. Don’t let my words make it seem that we consider the conspiracy to be an ordinary thing. No, of course it is serious and shouldn’t be seen as ordinary. But it must be known that the inter-state conspiracy path is out now, and will be overcome. This truth should be known and believed. We must stress this with all our power.”

THE ROJAVA REVOLUTION HAS A WILL

Karayilan said the Northern and Eastern Syrian Revolution that includes Rojava has been implemented based on the peoples and that it has marched on through an alternative third path with autonomous forces, adding that a revolution can only be a revolution if it can stand on its own merit. Karayilan said they believe they have the politics, the people, the strength and the will and continued: “If the third path is executed in the correct military, political, diplomatic and social ways, current conditions are such that they will enable the victory of the Northern and Eastern Syrian Revolution in any case.”

THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE US COULD CONTINUE

Karayilan said the following on why he made the comment: “Because there could be new balances built. Nobody will just sit idly by. There could be new alliances formed, new partnerships forged. That is so throughout the world. The positive point is that it hasn’t been subject to any party to date, and hasn’t relied on any power. They could maintain relationships with the US and still protect their gains and revolution. The main issue there is that they keep their main power, i.e. their own strength, develop it and rely on it. In the military and social sense, they should believe in themselves and act in accordance with their own strength. If they do, they will be able to protect themselves, take part in the new balances and fulfill their goals. They have the power and the opportunity to do so.”

TURKISH STATE IN FESTIVE MOOD

Karayilan said Trump’s decision is expected to change certain balances and form new balances in Syria, and create disappointment in those who thought the Rojava and Syrian revolutions happened because of some external power: “The Turkish state is thus in a festive mood that the US is withdrawing, they think it will be to their advantage if the US leaves and the revolution will fall in a few days. Despite their intense propaganda of this approach every day, their generals and officials know very well that it won’t be easy. We said it before, we say it again: Nobody should overestimate the Turkish state’s might. They can’t just take anywhere they want, willy-nilly. The Arab, Syriac, Kurdish people there and their fighters and commanders can easily defeat the invading Turkish state if they believe in themselves, take good positions and become a will through correct paths/methods.”

WE WILL SUPPORT THEM AND STAND WITH THEM

Karayilan pointed out that Turkey, ISIS, even Syria and some other forces have been thinking the revolution will weaken when the US withdraws but that they believe the Northern and Eastern Syrian Revolution can protect itself under any circumstances.

Murat Karayilan said: “As the Kurdish people, as the Kurdish freedom Movement, we will support them and stand with them. All democratic forces in the region, all Kurdistan powers should support the Rojava revolution. Because in Rojava and North-Eastern Syria, a system where people govern themselves has been built. The flame of democracy and freedom has been raised high through the democratic nation principle. This flame must not be allowed to wither and die. We the Kurdistan revolutionaries and regional revolutionaries must defend the fire of freedom so it can light the whole region. This is a fundamental task for anybody who calls themselves a revolutionary.”
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Re: Kurds ask government to enter Manbij amid Turkey threats

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:04 pm

Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

Russian and Turkish foreign and defense ministers met in Moscow on Saturday to discuss northern Syria as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw and Turkey threatens to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces controlling nearly a third of the country.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said before the talks began that they would focus on the situation in and around Idlib, as well as "what can and should be done" when the U.S. withdraws from Syria.

After the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that much of the discussion focused on the pending U.S. withdrawal, and that Russia and Turkey managed to agree on coordinating their steps in Syria "to ultimately eradicate the terrorist threat."

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said the meeting lasted an hour and a half. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said only that "we will continue our close cooperation with Russia and Iran on Syria and regional issues."

The Syrian military said it entered the Kurdish stronghold of Manbij on Friday as part of an apparent agreement between the two sides. The Kurds are looking for new allies to protect against a threatened Turkish offensive as U.S. forces prepare to leave.

With President Donald Trump's surprise decision to withdraw troops earlier this month, Turkey announced it will pause a threatened offensive against Kurdish militants. It has, however, continued amassing troops at the border as it monitors the situation.

The movements follow days of equipment transfers across the border into a Turkish-held area of northern Syria near Manbij. Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters said they have started moving along with Turkish troops to front-line positions near the town as a show of readiness.

A statement released by the rebels said they are ready to "begin military operations to liberate the city in response to calls by our people in the city of Manbij."

Turkish news agency IHA showed video of at least 50 tanks arriving at a command post in Sanliurfa province early Saturday. The province borders Kurdish-held areas east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

The Russian side was represented in Saturday's talks by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Shoigu, and Kremlin foreign affairs aide Yuri Ushakov. The Turkish delegation includes Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Saturday that, in addition to the foreign and defense ministers of each country, the meeting was attended by intelligence chiefs from both sides.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan did not attend the meeting. Peskov said the two would later schedule a separate meeting.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/russian-a ... yria-talks
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