Turkey, Iraq to carry out joint operation against Kurdish militants in Iraq

Syrian-Kurds flee the city of Afrin as Turkish-backed forces advance in the battle against Kurdish fighters on March 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Turkey, Iraq to carry out joint operation against Kurdish militants in Iraq

ANKARA: Turkey and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Cavusoglu’s comments came as Turkey pushed ahead with a cross-border military operation against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria’s Afrin region.
Speaking to reporters on his flight from Germany to Austria, Cavusoglu said the Afrin operation, launched on Jan. 20, will be completed by May, according to broadcaster CNN Turk.
Cavusoglu was quoted as saying the joint cross-border operation with Iraq may start after Iraq holds parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018, signaling Turkish troops may move to northern Iraq following the ongoing offensive.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast since the 1980s, has camps in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, from which it frequently carries out attacks into Turkey.
The PKK is viewed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Ankara considers the YPG to be a Syrian extension of the PKK.
Turkey's state-run news agency said, meanwhile, that Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces had entered the town of Jinderes, in the enclave's southwest, where they were engaged in street clashes with Syrian Kurdish forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that a siege of Afrin's main city would begin after Jinderes is taken.


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.