US in talks with NATO allies to give Turkey military aid

US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Franklin Jeffrey attends a panel discussion during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 11 March 2020

US in talks with NATO allies to give Turkey military aid

  • Jeffrey ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S-400 Air Defense System
  • Topuz is accused of links to officials who led a 2013 corruption investigation and were later found to be members of a network blamed for a failed 2016 military coup

PARIS: The US is discussing with its NATO allies what they can offer Turkey in terms of military assistance in Idlib and discussing measures that may be taken if Russia and the Syrian regime break a cease-fire, officials said on Tuesday.
“We are looking at what NATO can do,” James Jeffrey, the US’ special envoy for Syria, said in a conference call from Brussels where he was holding talks with allies. “Everything is on table.”
Jeffrey, who was speaking alongside the US ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S-400 Air Defense System.
In a separate development, a Turkish prosecutor said a US Consulate employee should be acquitted on charges of espionage and trying to overthrow the government, but should face jail on a lesser charge of belonging to a terrorist organization.

HIGHLIGHT

James Jeffrey, the US’ special envoy for Syria, ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the S400 Air Defense System.

The prosecutor told an Istanbul court that the evidence did not back up the original charges against Metin Topuz, who has been in jail for nearly 2-1/2 years while facing trial.
Topuz’s trial has been one of many sources of strain between NATO allies Turkey and the US, who have also been at odds in recent years over policy differences in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems.
Topuz is accused of links to officials who led a 2013 corruption investigation and were later found to be members of a network blamed for a failed 2016 military coup.
The investigation implicated officials in the government of then-prime minister, now President Tayyip Erdogan.
The prosecutor said the frequent contact Topuz had with members of Fethullah Gulen’s network taking part in the investigation showed he was a member of the group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.


Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

Updated 05 June 2020

Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

  • Operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria announced Friday a fresh campaign to hunt down remnants of the Daesh group near the Iraqi border following a recent uptick in attacks.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led paramilitary alliance that has spearheaded the ground fight against Daesh in Syria since 2015, said that the new campaign is being carried out in coordination with the Iraqi army and the US-led coalition.
“This campaign will target ISIS’s hideouts and hotbeds,” it said, using a different acronym for the militant group.
It said operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq where Daesh has conducted a spate of attacks in recent months.
Since the loss of its last territory in Syria in March 2019, Daesh attacks have been restricted to the vast desert that stretches from the heavily populated Orontes valley in the west all the way to Iraqi border.
It regularly targets SDF forces and has vowed to seek revenge for the defeat of its so-called “caliphate”.
The SDF, with backing from its coalition allies, launched a campaign to hunt down sleeper cells after it forced Daesh militants out of their last Syrian redoubt in the desert hamlet of Baghouz in March 2019.
A raid in October by US special forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant group which once controlled large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
Last month, the United Nations accused the Daesh group and others in Syria of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to step up violence on civilians, describing the situation as a “ticking time-bomb”.
Across the border in Iraq, Daesh has exploited a coronavirus lockdown, coalition troop withdrawals and simmering political disputes to ramp up attacks.
Iraq declared Daesh defeated in late 2017 but sleeper cells have survived in remote northern and western areas, where security gaps mean the group wages occasional attacks.
They have spiked since early April as militants plant explosives, shoot up police patrols and launch mortar and rocket fire at villages.