Oct 17 2019

U.S., Turkey agree on 120-hr ceasefire to create safe zone - live blog

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his delegation have negotiated a 120-hour ceasefire in Turkey’s military offensive in Syria during more than four hour long negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other Kurdish-led groups viewed by Ankara as a security threat will withdraw from a 32-km safe zone south of Turkey’s border during the ceasefire, Pence told reporters during a press briefing after the meeting.

Pence told reporters that the withdrawal of the SDF would start immediately.

The temporary cease fire will serve as the basis for a permanent agreement, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led groups had brought U.S.-Turkish relations to breaking point and led to chaotic scenes in northeast Syria as competing factions scramble to fill the vacuum left by departing U.S. troops.

Hundreds of fighters and civilians have been killed and tens of thousands of residents forced to flee since the start of the Turkish operation on Oct. 9.

Minutes before Pence announced the ceasefire deal, Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill proposing a strong package of sanctions to be imposed on Turkey if it continued its military operation.

The agreement may allow Ankara to escape some of the toughest sanctions, including measures targeting Erdoğan and his cabinet, but Pence said there would be no concession on the prosecution of Turkish state-run Halkbank over breaking sanctions on Iran.

ceasefire


23:50  - Abandoning Kurds leaves stain on U.S. history - Republican Senator Romney

In his speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Republican Senator Mitt Romney said one of the most sacred principles of the United States, to not abandon its friends, has been violated.

“[The decision to abandon the Kurds] strikes at American honour. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history,” he said.

Regarding the ceasefire agreement between the United States and Turkey, Romney said he hoped that Turkey would honour the deal, but many had been killed already.

The decision to withdraw from Syria has strengthened Russia, Iran and the Syrian government while diminishing the United States, he added.


22:50 - SDF leader says ceasefire agreement accepted only for active war zone

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Mazloum Kobani on Thursday said the SDF agreed on the ceasefire deal between Turkey and the United States but only for Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, two cities where fierce fightings were happening.

Kobani said the SDF did not agree to totally withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria, they would pull back forces only from active war zones.

Meanwhile, the former leader of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party Salih Muslim said they welcomed the ceasefire but Kurds would defend themselves if Turkey attacks again, Kurdish ANHA news agency reported.

"We welcome the ceasefire, but we will defend ourselves in the event of an attack," Muslim said in an interview with ANHA.

Turkey and the United States reached an agreement to halt the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), for 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria.

"We will not accept the occupation of northern Syria, and we must know the details of the agreement between Pence and Erdoğan," Muslim said. "Ceasefire is one thing and surrender is another, we are ready to defend ourselves."


21:10 - Turkish foreign minister says Turkey reached its aim

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey carried its point after U.S. and Turkish officials agree on halting the military offensive in northeast Syria.

"We got what we wanted," Çavuşoğlu told reporters in a press conference.

Turkey and the United States reached an agreement to halt the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), for 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw 30 kilometres away from Turkey's border with Syria.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the countries agreed on a ceasefire, but Çavuşoğlu maintained that the agreement did not mean a ceasefire since it could only be made between two legitimate sides.

"Provided terrorist elements withdraw, then we will end our military operation. And while it is on hold, there will be no more moves by the U.S. to sanction us. After this, existing sanctions will be lifted," Çavuşoğlu said


20:35 – U.S., Turkey reach deal to halt Turkish operation in Syria

Turkey and the United States have agreed on a deal that will see the Turkish incursion in northeast Syria halted for 120 hours, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The two sides have agreed to the ceasefire to allow Kurdish-led groups to withdraw from a 20-mile  safe zone south of Turkey’s border. The safe zone will be mainly administered by Turkey.

 


20:30 Trump thanks Erdoğan after U.S.-Turkish meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that “millions of lives will be saved” thanks to the outcome of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as press in Ankara await a statement.

 


20:10 - Senator Graham, Van Hollen introduce sanctions against Turkey

Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen introduced bipartisan sanctions on Turkey at a Senate press conference on Thursday.

Graham said sanctions announced by the Trump administration on Monday are just the beginning of "a crippling journey" unless Turkey stops its offensive against U.S. allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria and withdraws to areas its military was deployed before what he called an invasion.

The sanctions bill will include measures against Turkish state-run Halkbank for breaking Iran sanctions, mandate CAATSA sanctions for Turkey's S-400 purchase from Russia within 30 days, prohibit the purchase of sovereign debt from Turkey and will prohibit military assistance to Turkey, Graham said.

Van Hollen urged the Senate to immediately vote on the bipartisan resolution, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and ranking member Michael McCaul, that passed the House on Wednesday and take up their bill next.

​​
SAUL LOEB / AFP

20:00 – Meeting between Erdoğan and Pence ends

The meeting between Turkish and U.S. delegations headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vice President Mike Pence ended after two hours and 40 minutes, Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdoğan and Pence had a one-to-one meeting before the gathering of wider delegations including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The two meetings lasted more than four hours. 

“Pence is escorted out of presidency by Turkish VP. Doesn’t answer questions on whether any progress was made,” Associated Press While House correspondent Zeke Miller said on Twitter. 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pence leave after a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pence leave after a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, October 17, 2019. (REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir)

19:50 Turkey says 702 YPG have been neutralised since Oct. 9

Turkish Defence Ministry said on Thursday that 702 members of the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) have been neutralised since the start of a Turkish military operation in northern Syria on Oct. 9. 

Turkish authorities use the word neutralised to mean those killed or captured.

A masked Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighter stands guard as they wait to cross into Syria, near the border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
A masked Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighter stands guard as they wait to cross into Syria, near the border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

19:50 224 SDF soldiers, 183 Turkish-backed rebels killed in northern Syria - monitor

Some 224 fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and 183 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have died since the start of a Turkish offensive in northeast Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday.

The death toll also includes 72 civilians, it said. 


19:30 - Macron urges EU to ban arms exports, condemn Turkish incursion in northeast Syria

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged the European Union to unite in condemning Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria and agree on an EU-wide arms ban against the country, Associated Press reported.

"I want us to speak again with a united, clear and firm voice to condemn this attack," Macron told reporters in Brussels ahead of EU summit, adding that Turkey's offensive could allow the Islamic State (ISIS) to reemerge.

macron
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

19:10 - Syrian Kurdish officials accuse Turkey of using banned weapons

Syrian Kurdish officials have accused Turkish forces of using internationally outlawed weapons in Turkey's offensive in the northern Syrian town of Ras al Ayn, Kurdish news site Rudaw reported.

The Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) spokesman Mustafa Bali on Thursday appealed for an international investigation, saying the local teams on the ground lacked the expert knowledge and the foreign specialists and humanitarian aid groups had withdrawn from northern Syria, Rudaw said.


18:45 - European Parliament president calls for tougher sanctions against Turkey

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli called on the European Union to impose tougher sanctions against Turkey on Thursday and said Ankara’s membership talks with the EU should be suspended because of its military operation in Syria, Reuters reported.

“Sanctions should be much tougher and include existing contracts,” Sassoli told a news conference in Brussels in relation to the bloc’s earlier decision this week to halt new arms sale deals with Turkey.

European Parliament President David Sassoli talks to journalists during a news conference at an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
European Parliament President David Sassoli talks to journalists during a news conference at an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

18:15 - U.S. Congress to introduce bipartisan sanctions at press conference

Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen will introduce bipartisan sanctions on Turkey at a Senate press conference at 5:30 p.m. EDT (GMT - 4).

The sanctions bill proposes tough measures against Erdoğan and top Turkish cabinet ministers over Turkey's military offensive in Syria, and demands the imposition of sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

 


17:35 – Pence-Erdoğan talks end after 80 minutes

One-on-one discussions between Pence and Erdoğan have come to an end, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Bloomberg reported “visible tension” during the meeting, which came the day after a threatening letter sent to Erdoğan by U.S. President Donald Trump was published in U.S. media.

More talks are scheduled to take place between the U.S. delegation and Turkish officials before a press briefing at 7:30 p.m.

 


17:10 Assad says Syria will respond to Turkish aggression with all legitimate means

Syria will respond to a Turkish aggression on any part of its territory with “all legitimate means” available, President Bashar Assad said on Thursday, Reuters reported citing Syrian state media.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Iraq's National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayyadh in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Iraq's National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayyadh in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (SANA via AP)

16:40 Aid agencies struggle with water shortages in northeast Syria

Aid agencies are struggling to meet the needs of up to 200,000 civilians who fled fighting in northeast Syria, Reuters quoted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as saying on Thursday.

The ICRC estimates that 170,000 to 200,000 people have been fled to the northeastern corner of Syria since the start of Turkish military operations last week.

ICRC spokeswoman Ruth Hetherington told Reuters that people were facing severe water shortage in the northeastern town of Hasakah. The city’s Alouk water station, which provides water to 400,000, is out of service after being damaged in previous fighting.


16:40 Turkey says talk of sanctions incompatible with NATO

The Turkish Defence Ministry said discussing possible sanctions against Turkey for its military offensive in northern Syria was incompatible with NATO.

“In the Operation Peace Spring, the protection of our country, borders and people is essential. Even the discourses of sanctions against our country are incompatible with the spirit of 70-year NATO alliance,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.


16:20 U.S. to impose additional sanctions on Turkey if necessary - Trump adviser

The United States is prepared to levy additional sanctions on Turkey if necessary, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday.

“We will use sanctions, and we may use more sanctions to keep Turkey in line,” Reuters quoted Kudlow as saying in an interview with CNBC.


15:45 ISIS says it freed women held by Syrian Kurdish-led forces - AFP

The Islamic State (ISIS) said Thursday it had freed a umber of women held by Syrian Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, the latest in a series of reported breakouts since Turkey launched a cross-border offensive on Oct. 9, Agence France-Presse said.

In a statement released on the Telegram messaging application, ISIS said it had freed Muslim women kidnapped by Kurdish-led forces staying in security headquarters west of its former stronghold of Raqqa on Wednesday.

It did not give a number or say if the women were ISIS members, or wives of extremists, AFP said.


15: 20 Syrian Kurds calls for humanitarian corridor in Ras al Ayn

The Kurdish administration in northern Syria called on the international community to open a safe humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians trapped in northeastern town of Ras al Ayn, which Turkish forces have been shelling since early on Thursday.

Many civilians, including women, children and the elderly, are stranded in the town, while dozens of people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, the Syrian Democratic Council said in a statement. Humanitarian organisations have not been able evacuate civilians, it said.

Smoke billows from a fire on a target in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by shelling by Turkish forces, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019
Smoke billows from a fire on a target in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by shelling by Turkish forces, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Cavit Ozgul)

15:05 Russia’s special Syria envoy meets Turkish presidential spokesman

Turkey’s presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın met a Russian delegation headed by Russia’s special representative for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev in Ankara on Thursday.

The delegations discussed the Turkish military operation in Syria, the Turkish presidency said.


15:00 Turkey will not object if Russia, Damascus removes YPG from northeast Syria

Turkey will not object if Russia and the Syrian government remove Kurdish-armed groups from northeast Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister told the BBC.

“Russia is conveying messages between Ankara and Damascus. If Russia with the Syrian army removes the YPG elements from the region, we will not object to that,” the BBC quoted Mevlut Çavuşoğlu as saying, referring to the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG).


14:50 Aid groups scramble to reach thousands in Syria's northeast

Humanitarian groups in northeast Syria are scrambling to provide aid to hundreds of thousands of people as rapidly shifting battle lines make it increasingly difficult to reach them, the Associated Press said on Thursday.

Nearly all foreign aid workers have been evacuated because of security concerns over Turkey’s military offensive, AFP said. There are fears that local staff could face reprisals, either at the hands of Turkish-led forces pushing in from the north or Syrian troops fanning out across territory held by the embattled Kurds, it said.


14:40 Kurdish commander says Trump approved deal with Russia, Damascus - AP

U.S. President Donald Trump did not oppose a deal struck between the Syrian Kurdish Forces (SDF), Russia and the Syrian government in Damascus to protect against a Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, the Associated Press reported a SDF commander as saying.  

“We told (Trump) that we are contacting the Syrian regime and the Russians in order to protect our country and land,” Mazloum Abdi, better known by his nom de guerre Mazloum Kobani, told a local TV station, Ronahi TV. “He said, ‘We are not against that. We support that.’”


14:30 Protesters detained at Atatürk birthplace in northern Greece

Greek anarchists with ties to outlawed Kurdish militant groups have attacked the birthplace of Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at the Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Associated Press reported that police had detained 12 protesters on the grounds of the consulate after evading security and unfurling a banner at the Atatürk Museum opposing Turkey's military operation.

Police officers stand guard outside of the Turkish Consulate after a demonstration against the Turkey's military operation in northeastern Syria by anarchist group of Rouviconas, in Thessaloniki on October 17, 2019. (Photo by Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP)
Police officers stand guard outside of the Turkish Consulate after a demonstration against the Turkey's military operation in northeastern Syria by anarchist group of Rouviconas, in Thessaloniki on October 17, 2019. (Photo by Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP)

14:20 Damascus says Syrians unified in confronting Turkish aggression

Syrians are unified in confronting Turkey’s aggression in northeast Syria, the Syrian government said in its first statement since deploying troops in Kurdish-controlled areas to help contain the Turkish offensive.

“The Syrian Arab Republic affirms its complete rejection and strong condemnation of the blatant Turkish aggression and the interference in Syria’s internal affairs,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement to state news agency SANA.

Syria “asserts solidarity of all the Syrians and their unity more than ever under the national flag in confronting the treacherous Turkish aggression,” it said.


13:50 Russia says the Assad government should get control over Turkey border

Syria should take control over its border with Turkey as part of any settlement of the conflict there, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday, Reuters reported citing Russian Interfax news agency.


13:20 Turkish defence minister says terrorists will use chemical weapons to implicate Turkey

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that Turkish authorities had received information that terrorist organisations in northern Syria would perpetrate chemical weapons attacks and try to blame the Turkish Armed Forces, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

“We have been receiving information that the terrorist organisation will use chemical weapons and will try to put the blame on Turkey in order to create such an image,” Akar told a press briefing. “It is well known that the Turkish Armed Forces have no chemical weapons in their inventory.”

Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP
Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP

13:10 218 civilians killed in Turkey’s offensive - Syrian Kurdish administration

Some 218 civilians, including 18 children, have been killed in northern Syria since the start of Turkey’s military offensive last week, Reuters quoted the Kurdish-led administration in the region as saying on Thursday.

More than 650 people have also been wounded in the fighting, administration’s health authority said in a statement.


13:00 Albayrak, central bank chief will not attend IMF-World bank meetings

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and the country’s central bank chief will not attend annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank this week in Washington amid the international furore over Turkey’s military incursion into Syria.

Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal will send deputies instead, according to reports in the Turkish media.

Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 30, 2019. Mehmet Acar/Presidential Press Office
Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 30, 2019. Mehmet Acar/Presidential Press Office

12:30 Dutch PM says fight between Turkish and Kurdish groups is unacceptable

A fight between Turkish and Kurdish groups in the Netherlands’s second-largest city Rotterdam on Wednesday over Turkey’s Syria offensive is unacceptable, BBC Turkish quoted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as saying.

Dozens were detained and many, including police, were injured on Wednesday after Turks and Kurds clashed.

“You can organise protests in this country, but we do them in a civilised manner,” BBC Turkish quoted Rutte as telling the Dutch parliament.


12:10 Hungary will use force to stop Syrian migrants from Turkey - Orban

Hungary will use force to protect its southern border with Serbia if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan carries out his threat to send millions of Syrians in Turkey to Europe, Hungary’s prime minister said.

“If Turkey sets off further hundreds of thousands … then we will need to use force to protect the Hungarian border and the Serbian-Hungarian frontier and I do not wish for anyone that we should need to resort to that,” Reuters quoted Prime Minister Viktor Orban as telling private broadcaster HirTV in an interview late on Wednesday


12:00 Çavuşoğlu-O’Brien meeting ends

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey in Ankara on Thursday, Hürriyet newspaper reported.

The meeting between Turkish and U.S. delegations lasted 45 minutes, Hürriyet said.

Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry
Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry

11:45 Turkey to allow school kids to move from Syria border towns

Turkey is to allow primary and secondary school students in towns along the Syrian frontier to temporarily continue their education away from the area, which is a base for the Turkish cross-border offensive, the Hürriyet newspaper said.

Schools in several border towns have been closed since the operation began last week.


11:30 U.S. destroys ammunition, equipment in northern Syria after pulling out troops

The United States carried out a pre-planned air strike in northern Syria on Wednesday to destroy an ammunition cache and military equipment that were left behind as U.S. personnel prepare for a withdrawal from northeast Syria, Reuters reported citing U.S. officials.

Colonel Myles Caggins, an Iraq-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State (ISIS), said the strike involved two F-15e fighter jets, which fired on the Lafarge Cement Factory after all coalition forces had left the facility.

The Turkish government has repeatedly said the Lafarge Cement Factory, located between Manbij and Raqqa, was used by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to build underground tunnels. Foreign Policy on Tuesday reported that tunnels had been used by the YPG to fight against Turkey’s ongoing offensive in Syria.

February 19, 2018
 The Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) cement plant in Jalabiya, some 30 kms from Ain Issa, in northern Syria on February 19, 2018. AFP PHOTO / Delil Souleiman

11:10 Germany will not deliver any weapons to Turkey under current circumstances - Merkel

Germany will not deliver any weapons to Turkey under current circumstances, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

“In recent days I have strongly urged Turkey ... to end its military operation against the Kurdish military and I’m stressing that again now,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Merkel as saying in Germany’s lower house of parliament.

“It’s a humanitarian drama with huge geopolitical effects so Germany will not deliver any weapons to Turkey under the current conditions,” she said.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel presents a government declaration on the forthcoming European Council during the plenary session of the German Bundestag. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa
German Chancellor Angela Merkel presents a government declaration on the forthcoming European Council during the plenary session of the German Bundestag. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa

11:00 Turkey charges 31 people over social media posts since the start of Syria offensive

Turkish courts have charged 31 people with making terrorism propaganda for criticising Turkey’s military offensive into Syria since it began on Oct. 9.

Some 200 people have been detained by the police and 839 social media accounts have been investigated, leftist opposition daily Evrensel reported.


10:30 Turkish government threw Trump’s letter in the bin - CNN Turk

The Turkish government threw in the bin a letter sent by U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 9 to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urging him “don’t be a fool” and not to launch a cross-border offensive into Syria, CNN Türk reported on Thursday citing diplomatic sources.

They told the news channel the letter lacked customary diplomatic politeness and that the clearest answer to it was the start of the Turkish offensive later the same day.


10:15 Egypt welcomes U.S. sanctions on Turkey

Egypt said on Thursday it welcomed sanctions imposed on Turkey by U.S. President Donald Trump over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria, Al Arabiya reported.

“Egypt expresses its satisfaction with and welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump’s position on those developments, represented in the clear American rejection of the ongoing Turkish attacks on Syrian lands and the imposition of preliminary sanctions on the Turkish regime,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


10:00 At least 185 SDF fighters killed since the start of Turkish offensive - monitor

At least 185 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been killed since the start of Turkey’s military operation in Syria on Oct. 9, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

The observatory said 164 members of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army have been killed. Nine Turkish soldiers have been killed.


09:30 Erdoğan and Pence to meet on Thursday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Pence arrived in Turkey with a high-level U.S. delegation including the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


08:55 Turkey says 673 terrorists have been neutralised since the start of its Syria offensive

Turkish Defence Ministry said on Thursday that a total of 673 had been neutralised since the start of an incursion into Syria on Oct. 9.

Turkish authorities use the word neutralised to mean those killed or captured.


07:00 Erdoğan and Putin to meet next week

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Oct. 22 to discuss Syria. The meeting will take place before Erdoğan’s expected visit to the United States to meet U.S. President Donald Trump scheduled for Nov. 13.


23:45 - "Don’t be a fool," Trump tells Erdoğan in a letter on first day of Turkey's Syria operation

American journalist Trish Regan shared October 9th dated letter over social media from President Trump to President Erdogan, on the first day of Turkey's Syria operation.

"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" U.S. President Donald Trump urges Erdoğan in a letter informing the Turkish president that SDF leader Mazloum Kobane is "willing to negotiate".

Trump appears to have also threatened to destroy Turkish economy if Erdogan does not accept the call and go ahead with the operation.

22:10 - U.S. House passes resolution calling for Turkey to halt Syria offensive

The U.S. House has voted to condemn a decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The resolution, which passed by a 354-to-60 margin, has bipartisan support and calls for Turkey to halt its ongoing offensive in Syria targeting Kurdish forces.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops in the region, where Turkey-backed forces are now battling Kurdish fighters, has spared concerns among U.S. lawmakers about the resurgence of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region.


21:30 - Republican Sen. Graham blasts Trump for downplaying Turkey offensive 

U.S. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has blasted U.S. President Donald Trump over his comments on Wednesday downplaying Turkey’s ongoing offensive in northeast Syria. 

“The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict,’’ Graham said on Twitter.

“All American soldiers are away from the site. Syria and Turkey can fight... They’ve got a lot of sand over there... There’s a lot of sand that they can play with,” the U.S. president said at the White House on Wednesday.


21:41 - Syrian Kurdish force announces 'freeze' of anti-ISIS operations

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced a freeze to their operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Syria, AFP reported.

The target of Turkey's military offensive since Oct. 9, the SDF has for years spearheaded the U.S.-led war on ISIS in the region. 


20:55 - Coalition forces leave Syria’s Raqqa, Tabqah

The U.S.-led coalition forces have left the Syrian cities of Tabqah and Raqqa, as well as a Lafarge cement factory as they continue to withdraw from northeast Syria on day eight of a Turkish offensive in the region, Reuters reported. 

“Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. On Oct. 16, we vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa, and Tabqah,” coalition spokesman Colonel Myles B. Caggins said on Twitter.


 

20:35 - Turkey to face ‘devastating’ sanctions if Pence, Erdoğan meeting unsuccessful

If the upcoming meeting in Ankara between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the ongoing Turkish offensive fails to yield success, Turkey will be faced with devastating sanctions, Arab News quoted U.S. President Donald Trump as saying on Wednesday. 

Pence, set to arrive in Turkey late on Wednesday for talks on Syria, will try to persuade Turkey to stop its cross-border operation in northeast Syria, which Ankara has stressed it will continue to pursue at full speed. 


20:30 - Trump’s UN ambassador calls on Turkey to end offensive

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, has called on Turkey to end its offensive in northeast Syria.

Turkey must “cease undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS, cease endangering civilians, cease threatening peace, security and stability in the region, cease its offensive and declare a ceasefire immediately,” Craft said following a UN Security Council meeting. 

20:20 - Syrian gov’t forces enter Kurdish-held Kobani - observatory

Syrian government troops alongside ally Russian forces have entered Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northeastern city of Kobani, the Syrian Observatory reported on Wednesday.

The report follows a deal between Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Damascus to deploy the Syrian army to border areas to help stem a Turkish operation, which is in its eighth day.