Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

  • Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war
  • “We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said

ISTANBUL: Turkey and Russia are discussing a “coordination center” to better manage their operations in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib province, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting. A Russian-Turkish deal for a demilitarised zone last year protected the Idlib rebel bastion.
The two countries and Ankara are already preparing joint patrols around the northwestern Syrian region.
“We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said after a meeting Wednesdayg, according to a ministry statement on Thursday.
His remarks came as Russian jets carried out air strikes in Idlib on Wednesday, the first such attacks since the Turkish-Russian deal was signed in September as a way to prevent major bloodshed.
At least 13 civilians, including six infants were killed in the raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor that relies on sources inside Syria.
Earlier this month, Turkey said its forces and Russians would begin ground patrols around Idlib province as part of their cease-fire deal.
Idlib is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
HTS in January took control of the administration of Idlib’s region where three million people have been protected.
A Turkish-backed National Liberation Front controls part of the rebel stronghold.
The Russian-Turkish agreement was supposed to see hard-line jihadists withdraw from Idlib but they never did.
The cease-fire has held except for sporadic bombardments and skirmishes, avoiding an all-out Syrian military assault.


Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

Updated 20 March 2019
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Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of deadly attack in West Bank

  • The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said
  • The Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Nablus

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces on Tuesday killed a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank two days earlier, the Israeli Shin Bet security service said.
The assailant was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Shin Bet said. The Palestinian health ministry confirmed a person had been killed in the clash, but provided no further details.
In what appeared to be a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the report was being looked into.
On Sunday, a suspected Palestinian assailant fatally stabbed a soldier at an intersection on a busy West Bank highway and opened fire at the scene using the conscript’s rifle, killing an Israeli rabbi and wounding a second soldier.
Palestinians, many of them people without links to armed groups, carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016 but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.