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Turkey launches attack on US-backed KURDS IN NORTHERN SYRIA

The Azeri Times

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The Turkish military started a major cross border air operation on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province on Jan. 20, with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım saying that the land forces might be involved in on Jan. 21.

“The land force units will be involved tomorrow depending on the developments,” he said in a televised press briefing together with opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli.

Dubbing the new campaign “The Olive Branch Operation,” the Turkish military said it began hitting cross-border targets at 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) and aimed at the YPG and also the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Ankara views the Democratic Unity Party (PYD) and its armed wing YPG as a terrorist group for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Jets return to basesTurkey stages military operation on YPG in Syrias Afrin

Turkish Chief of Staff Gen Hulusi Akar commanded the operation from the General Staff headquarters in Ankara, where he, at night, received a visit from Yıldırım for a briefing, per reported by state-run Anadolu Agency.

By evening, the army announced it stroke almost all of the targets it had determined in the area, before it announced that 72 fighters jets that took part in the operation returned to their bases.

“Out of 113 designated targets of the Democratic Union Party, Kurdish Syrian terrorist group, 108 have been destroyed as of 18:30 [15:30 GMT]. All the killed and wounded people, who have been sent to hospitals, are members of terrorist groups,” the statement of the Turkish General Staff read.

The Turkish Air Force also reportedly hit the Menagh Military Airbase in northwestern Syria, which the U.S. used for supplying weapons to YPG.

Meanwhile, Ali Erbaş, head of he Turkish Religious Authority, has said that ” conquest prayers” will be performed before the morning and afternoon prayers at mosques.

Tanks being deployed

Following the official statements, around 10 p.m. local time, private television channel CNNTürk showed three Turkish tanks passing through the Öncüpınar border gate to Syria on trucks during a live broadcast.

Hürriyet reporters in the field also reported having seen Turkish tanks being deployed to the district of Hassa in the southern province of Hatay across the Syrian border.

The Turkish Red Crescent, meanwhile, has built up a tent camp in Azez in the east of Afrin as a caution to a possible human flow.

Civilians as ‘human shields’

The Turkish military said the PYD is using civilians in Afrin as “human shield.”

The YPG is using children and women as shields, it said.

The Turkish intelligence has also reportedly confirmed that the YPG is trying to show the hit militants as civilians.

Civilians who have manage to leave Afrin headed toward Aleppo before the YPG blocked the road, reports said.

“Thousands of pro-Turkey civilians have escaped the PKK/YPG-controlled areas in an attempt to reach Aleppo,” an official told Hürriyet Daily News.

“Our assessment is that they would like to use civilians as a human shield and blame potential civilian casualties on Turkey,”

The road to Aleppo has reportedly been shut following an agreement between YPG and the regime, the official said.

Turkey stages military operation on YPG in Syrias AfrinThe source said the aim of the operation was “to liberate the area by eliminating the PKK-YPG-linked administration, which has been repressing the local population through anti-democratic and authoritarian means.”

“In order to create an environment in which the people of Afrin can govern themselves in a democratic fashion, we aim to rebuild democratic institutions as well as the social and economic infrastructure in the area,” the official said.

“We welcome the local population’s support for Turkey’s military incursion. In our efforts to restore peace and stability in Afrin, we will draw from our experiences in Jarabulus, Azaz and Al-Bab,” the official said, referring to the former operations on the Syrian soil.

The Afrin operation is intended to continue in Manbij, “where local tribes have been calling on Turkey to liberate the area and establish a democratic administration there,” the source said.

The military said the operation was carried out “with respect for Syria’s territorial integrity” and stemmed from Turkey’s rights under international law.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also underlined the operation is within legal framework and in line with Turkey’s “right to self-defense” on his Twitter account.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said “The Turkish Republic is determined and capable of destroying all threats against its sovereignty,” on his Twitter account on the same day.

Opposition lends support

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lent full support to the operation.

“We are totally confident about our brave army and give full support to the operation. What we mind is the security of our borders. No countries would want a terrorist organization at its border,” he told Hürriyet.

He said it was important that Turkey used the Syrian air space as a result of diplomatic efforts.

Russia voices concerns, repositions Afrin forces

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry called for “restraint” and conveyed they were “concerned” upon receiving news about the Turkish military engagement in Syria, Reuters reported.

Russian has also relocated some of its ground forces in Syria following the developments.

“The operations group of the center for reconciliation of warring sides and military police have been redeployed from the area of Afrin to the area of Tel Ajar in the Tel Rifaat de-confliction zone in order to avoid possible provocations and to ensure Russian servicemen’s lives and health are not exposed to risks,” Russian TASS reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

The U.S., on the other hand, said the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL was not involved in any operation in Syria’s Afrin, calling on parties to avoid escalating tensions and focus on fight on ISIL.

“We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS,” said Pentagon spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in written statement on Jan. 20, using another acronym for ISIL.

“We recognize Turkey’s security concerns about the PKK, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. does not provide any support to PKK. The US-led Coalition does not have operations ongoing in Afrin because it is focused on military operations against ISIS,” he said.

The operation followed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that the Afrin operation “actively” began on the same day.

Middle East

US reportedly installs air defense systems in northern Syria

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It has been claimed the United States has installed air defense and electronic radar systems in Kobani, which are controlled by the PYD and YPG and in the al-Shaddadi U.S. base in the Hasakah province, in preparation for creating a no-fly zone in northern Syria.

The PYD and YPG are considered by Turkey as the illegal PKK’s Syrian offshoot and, thus, designated as terrorist organizations.

Ankara had launched two cross-border operations into northern Syria to disable these groups from establishing what it calls a terror corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The Ankara government is closely monitoring the news regarding the installation of air defense and radar systems reported by some foreign media outlets.

A video circulating on social media purportedly shows U.S. soldiers installing the systems shipped to Kobani with military transport aircraft.

With those systems, the U.S. is said to want to create a no-fly zone in an area stretching from Manbij to Deir ez-Zor.

Turkish security sources said they are monitoring the activities in the region.

“We are looking into those claims [regarding the installment of radar systems],” the sources said. However, the sources neither confirmed nor denied those media reports.

One security official added they are doing what is necessary to collect more accurate information from local intelligence sources.

Radar systems are being installed in the rural areas of Kobani just across the Turkish border town of Suruç in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, foreign media outlets reported citing local sources.

“The U.S. wants to observe military air jets in the region,” an American commander in the video footage explained the reason for installing the radar systems.

It is claimed air defense systems are installed against possible Turkish airstrikes on PYD-controlled Kobani and other areas in the region.

The Pentagon established a new military base in Syria’s Manbij this year in addition to other military installments across northern Syria.

“We are prepared to stay here [in Syria] to ensure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL],” U.S. Department of State representative William Roebuck said on Aug. 26.

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Middle East

Turkey’s spokesperson slams NYT article on operation targeting PKK chief

The Azeri Times

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Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın Aug. 18 called an article by the New York Times about the Turkish airstrike targeting a chief of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “a blatant attempt to justify and whitewash PKK terrorism.”

İsmail Özden, a senior figure of the PKK, was killed in a joint operation by the Turkish military and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) backed by unmanned aerial vehicles in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Aug. 15.

The NYT published an article about the airstrike on Aug. 17, describing Özden as “a hero to the Yazidi minority group in northern Iraq because he helped when they were threatened by ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“This is not journalism. This is a blatant attempt by @nytimes to justify and whitewash PKK terrorism. By the same logic, [Osama] Bin Laden was a ‘hero’ to some?! Would you call [Slobodan] Milosevic and [Ratko] Mladic also ‘heros’ to some people?!” Kalın responded on Twitter on Aug. 18.

Turkish authorities say Özden, 66, was actively operating in Europe from 1992 to 1996. Arrested in Germany for “being a PKK member” and “attacking workplaces of Turkish people” in 1996, Özden was released in 1998. In 2018, he began spearheading PKK activities in Iraq’s Sinjar, according to Turkish officials, where he led the PKK’s illegal drug and arms trafficking in the region.

The airstrike targeting Özden was named after Bedirhan Mustafa Karakaya, an 11-month baby who was killed in a PKK bomb attack on July 31.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

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Middle East

PUTIN SLAMS DRONE ATTACK ON RUSSIAN BASE IN SYRIA AS PROVOCATION

The Azeri Times

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The UAV attack on the Russian base in Syria was a provocation aimed at destroying previous agreements, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with heads of the country’s printed media and news agencies.

“There were some provocateurs, but they were not Turks. We know who they are, who paid who for this provocation and what the actual sum was. As for this kind of incidents, there is nothing good about them. These are provocations aimed at destroying previous agreements,” Putin said.

He added that those actions were also aimed at undermining Russia’s relations with Turkey and Iran. “We understand it perfectly well so we will work together,” the Russian leader stressed.

The unmanned aerial vehicles used in the attack on the Russian base in Syria were only disguised as homemade but were actually furnished with high-tech equipment, according to Putin.

“As for these attacks, they were undoubtedly prepared well. We know when and where these unmanned vehicles were handed over [to the attackers], and how many of them there were. These aerial vehicles were disguised – I would like to stress that – as homemade. But it is obvious that some high-tech equipment was used,” Putin said.

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