Turkish armed forces have deployed more than 40 armored vehicles along the Syrian border on Monday. In Hatay province, two dozen armored vehicles were deployed for “reinforcement reasons”, said the source. In Viransehir district, 20 vehicle-military convoy arrived, sent from southeastern province for assistance along Syrian border. Furthermore, a source said that intense smoke was coming out of Nesreyieh region in Afrin, which is under control of PKK/PYD. “In the coming days, God willing, we will continue with Afrin [operation] – that we started first with Euphrates Shield Operation – to purge terrorism from our southern borders”, Erdogan said in the central Anatolian Tokat province. On Saturday, Turkish security forces hit several PKK/PYD targets in the Afrin district of Syria’s Aleppo province.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed about preparations for a Russian-hosted Syrian People’s Congress, a trilateral meeting on the Syrian crisis expected to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in late January. The Russian official also held separate talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. On November 22, 2017, the Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents held talks on the Arab country’s crisis in Sochi: the three presidents attended a press conference and issued a joint statement. During the press conference, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the tripartite meeting discussed holding an all-Syrian congress, which will see representatives from all sides in Sochi to exchange views on the fate of the country and pave the way for the drafting of a new constitution and elections. Also Recep Tayyib Erdogan emphasized that the three nations would help stage a meeting of Syrian groups hosted by Russia, agreeing to keep working on the peace process in Syria.
In Cairo was held the fifth session of the Subcommittee on Political Matters, Human Rights and Democracy of the Association Agreement between Egypt and the European Union. The meeting took place within the framework of the Partnership Priorities 2017-2020 signed by Egypt and EU and was chaired by Ambassador Raouf Saad and Colin Scicluna. The members discussed about the Middle East peace process, the situations in Syria, Libya and the Arab region. Both sides recognised the necessity of strengthening dialogue and cooperation on all matters of mutual interest. They discussed also cooperation in human rights, rule of law and democracy in order to achieve stability and peace in the Mediterranean area.
The Syrian military said Israel carried out an attack on a military base in the city of al-Qutayfah outside of Damascus early Tuesday morning, which appears to have been used as a weapon depot, and in particular long-range missiles radius. The pro-regime al-Mayadeen media reported that the bombing occurred over several hours – 2:40, 3:04 and 4:15 – and was carried out by both aircraft and ground-to-ground missiles. The target was a base belonging to the 155th Syrian Military Artillery Regiment. It is assumed that the air attack is due to the will to defend itself against the Iranian expansion in the region. It is no secret that Israel is worried by the Iranian military presence in Syria, in fact, the government of Netanyahu has long been embarking on diplomatic, intelligence and security operations aimed at preventing the country just emerging from the war from becoming an Iranian military base.
More and more diplomatically isolated, the Turkish president must reconnect with the countries of the European Union. He wants to be an indispensable partner of the Twenty-eight on the issue of migration and regional crises. “We want to increase the number of our friends and reduce that of our enemies,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently. “On regional issues and in the bilateral field, the steps we have taken with Emmanuel Macron are going in the right direction” added Erdogan.
While the personalities of the two leaders are opposed in many ways, there are also common strategic interests and convergences on many regional issues, starting with Syria. Erdogan believes, like French diplomacy, that Bashar Al-Assad can not ultimately embody the future of his country.
The two men will also discuss the situation in the Gulf and Libya, and the instability created by the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “Turkey remains a strategic partner in many ways: in terms of migration, fight against terrorism, resolution of regional crises,” said Thursday the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, stressing that this dialogue “demanding and constructive “must be” based on Turkey’s own human rights commitments “.
Russian officers have delivered a 1.3-tonne batch of humanitarian aid to residents of Qasir al-Ward village in Syria’s Aleppo province in the last 24 hours, the Russian center for the reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria said on Saturday.”Over the last 24 hours, the Russian Centre for the reconciliation of opposing sides has delivered a 1.3-tonne humanitarian consignment to residents of the settlement of Qasir al-Ward, Aleppo province. Citizens received 300 food kits of rice, canned meat, and sugar,” the center said. Besides, 38 Syrians have returned to their homes in the last 24 hours, among them were 15 refugees in the Aleppo province and 23 in Homs province. Ten residents in the settlement of al-Huseiniyah, Deir Ez-Zor province, were given medical treatment. Ceasefire agreements were signed with the settlements of Ayn Abu Sirah and Tell Dakhiriyet al-Sayah, Aleppo province. The Syrian government alongside Russian Reconciliation Centre and UN office in Damascus “continue searching for an opportunity to provide humanitarian assistance to people in the al-Rukban camp”.
The two cabinet-level officials met during the summit of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), one of the few organizations that both the US and Russia are members of. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry press release, the two officials discussed the next steps in resolving Syria’s civil conflict through establishing a negotiation process that would incorporate all of the Syrian political powers. The negotiations can go on at various sites, including the Geneva conference on Syria and the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress that will take place in Sochi. Addressing Ukraine, Lavrov once again stated that the Minsk accord of February 2015 has no alternatives and must be fulfilled. He insisted that it is Kiev that has to implement the points of the agreement. Lavrov and Tillerson found some common ground regarding North Korea, agreeing that Pyongyang must strictly abide by UN Security Council resolutions. Meanwhile, Sergey Lavrov underscored that the escalation of tensions brought about by aggressive US rhetoric and military preparations in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula is unacceptable.
As Russia has worked to convince the world that its military power is growing, it has concealed its costs in terms of blood and treasure. But newly revealed statistics show surprisingly low casualties despite engagements in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria. It was the latest evidence that President Vladimir Putin’s military strategy is far more calculated than his predecessors, who were willing to win at all costs. Boris Yeltsin’s losses in Chechnya gutted his public support and the Soviet Union’s costly, failed Afghanistan adventure helped speed the end of an empire. Putin’s position is far more secure, which makes his approach to war all the more difficult to explain. Russia has not reported active-duty casualties since 2010 even as it expanded its military operations on several fronts. In 2015, Putin was accused of trying to hide losses in eastern Ukraine, where Russia stubbornly denies military involvement, by classifying data on losses incurred in “peacetime military operations”.
Senior Russian MPs have described an allegation by the Pentagon that Moscow and Damascus showed insufficient commitment to defeating IS terrorists as snobbery and lies, designed to cover up US failure to depose the lawful Syrian government. “The statement is nothing new, the same typical snobbery. Even with total resistance from the US special services, those who know how much Russia and the Syrian military forces have done, how many lives were lost, simply cannot say that Russia has done nothing,” Senator Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the Upper House Committee for Defense and Security, told RBC in response to remarks by Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. “Nothing is sacred to these people. Now leading news agencies around the world that are being managed by them will tell us that they are the greatest. And we will disprove this”, Klintsevich added. “I think that, in the nearest future, the Americans will face a great disappointment. They have installed so many time bombs for themselves”.
Trump makes surprise deal. Turkish leaders said Monday they fully expect the United States to follow through on president Donald Trump’s surprise pledge last week to stop sending weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters. American support might not matter all that much to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as some of the group’s leaders say they would be willing to join forces with the Syrian government if their demands for a federal state in the north are granted by Damascus. It’s unclear what Syria’s allies in Iran or Russia think of that plan, as they’re working with Turkey to forge some sort of settlement to the fighting. Either way, trouble lies ahead. In a region awash in weapons, the Kurds will likely find ways to keep the flow of weapons coming. FP’s Paul McLeary visited a U.S.-run training camp for the SDF in northern Syria earlier this year, where the Kurds said they fully expected to have to fight the Turks once they expelled the Islamic State from their country.