Russia offers to mediate in Syria, asserting its role
Russia offered Wednesday to mediate a resolution in northern Syria, further asserting Moscow's role as a regional force, ahead of a mission by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to press Turkey for a cease-fire in its attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters. Ahead of talks with Pence, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defied U.S. economic sanctions, saying the only way its military offensive would end was if Syrian Kurdish fighters leave a designated border area.Erdogan also said he had "no problem" accepting an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia soon to discuss Syria. But he threw into doubt a planned Nov.
Video by Bloomberg
AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) — Russian military police began patrols on part of the Syrian border Wednesday, quickly moving to implement an accord with Turkey that divvies up control of northeastern Syria. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back from the entire frontier or else face being "steamrolled" by Turkish forces.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed those warnings, saying his military would resume its offensive against Kurdish fighters if the new arrangements are not carried out.
The Latest: Turkey's Erdogan to travel to Russia for talks
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office says the Turkish leader will travel to Sochi, Russia for talks over Turkey's military offensive.Activists of the organization 'Women Defend Rochava' show the victory sign during a protest against the military operation of Turkey in the Kurdish areas in north-eastern Syria at the Federal press conference (Bundespressekonferenz) during a government's press conference in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 16.
Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of American troops. The Kurdish fighters, who once relied on the U.S. forces as protection from Turkey, were given a deadline of next Tuesday evening to pull back from border areas they have not already left.
Iraq, meanwhile, closed the door on the U.S. military's attempt to keep the troops leaving Syria on its soil. Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari told The Associated Press that those troops were only "transiting" Iraq and would leave within four weeks, heading either to Kuwait, Qatar or the United States.
Trump feuds with Susan Rice over Syria
President Trump exchanged barbs with the former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice over Syria after she criticized his policy."It's going nowhere good," Rice said of Trump's Middle East policy during an appearance on Bill Maher's show late Friday, pointing to Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria earlier this month ahead of a Turkish offensive in the region.
Al-Shammari spoke after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who earlier this week had said the American forces from Syria would remain in Iraq to fight the Islamic State group. Iraqi's military quickly said they did not have permission to do so.
The clumsy reversal underscored the blow to U.S. influence on the ground in the wake of President Donald Trump's order for U.S. troops to leave Syria. Those forces were allied to the Kurdish-led fighters for five years in the long and bloody campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.
Now a significant swath of the territory they captured is being handed over to U.S. rivals, and the Kurds have been stung at being abandoned by their allies to face the Turkish invasion launched on Oct. 9.
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Syria's opposition flag flies on a pole in Tal Abyad, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Russian media reports say Russian military police have started patrols in northern Syria as a Turkish-Russian agreement giving Syrian Kurdish fighters 150 hours to withdraw from almost the entire northeast border region of Syria came into effect. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari, center right, and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, center left, stand for their country's national anthems during a welcome ceremony at the Ministry of Defense, Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Esper has arrived in Baghdad on a visit aimed at working out details about the future of American troops that are withdrawing from Syria to neighboring Iraq. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
A Turkish soldier mans an outpost at the border with Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Russian media reports say Russian military police have started patrols in northern Syria as a Turkish-Russian agreement giving Syrian Kurdish fighters 150 hours to withdraw from almost the entire northeast border region of Syria came into effect. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan look at each other during a joint news conference after their talks in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Erdogan says Turkey and Russia have reached a deal in which Syrian Kurdish fighters will move 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from a border area in northeast Syria within 150 hours. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Syrian government forces deploy near the town of Tal Tamr, north Syria, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries' power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, a view of the town of Tal Abyad, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Russian media reports say Russian military police have started patrols in northern Syria as a Turkish-Russian agreement giving Syrian Kurdish fighters 150 hours to withdraw from almost the entire northeast border region of Syria came into effect. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Turkish flag on a hilltop at the Turkey-Syria border in the town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, overlooking the town of Ras al-Ayn, Syria. Russian media reports say Russian military police have started patrols in northern Syria as a Turkish-Russian agreement giving Syrian Kurdish fighters 150 hours to withdraw from almost the entire northeast border region of Syria came into effect. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
'It's clear the US has been sidelined.' Turkey and Russia agree to joint patrols in Syria
Amid a U.S. military withdrawal from Syria, the Trump administration's ability to address the Syria crisis seemed dramatically diminished.The pact between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came shortly before a U.S.-brokered cease-fire – which had temporarily halted a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in Syria – expired Tuesday afternoon.
The Kremlin pointedly referred to that abandonment as it told the Kurds to abide by the Russian-Turkish accord.
"The United States was the closest ally of the Kurds during the last few years, and in the end the U.S. ditched the Kurds and effectively betrayed them," leaving them to fight the Turks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian newswires.
"It's quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don't withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army," he said.
Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists because of their links to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a "safe zone" where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.
Ankara would gain that goal under the new accord with Moscow along with the agreement last week with the U.S. that put a cease-fire in place.
Kurdish forces completed withdrawing on Tuesday from a stretch of territory 120 kilometers (75 miles) wide along the border and 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That pullback, allowing Turkish-backed forces to take over, was required under the U.S.-Turkish accord.
Trump declares 'big success' in Syria, lifts sanctions on Turkey
In a 15-minute speech at the White House, Trump said critics of his policy want an endless, unlimited U.S. commitment in a dangerous region. "They are the ones who got us into the Middle East mess," he said during a 15-minute speech at the White House. "Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand." The president said he could reimpose sanctions if Turkey fails to honor its obligations "including the protection of religious and ethnic minorities."The president had come under withering criticism for his decision to withdraw U.S. forces.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, center right, speaks with Syrian troops during his visit to the strategic town of Habeet, in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria, on Oct. 22. Assad called the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "thief" during his first visit to territory captured from Turkey-backed rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Turkey forcibly returned refugees to war-torn Syria: Report
Amnesty International report today says Turkey has been forcibly returning refugees to war-torn Syria over the past few months.Despite an absence of official statistics on how many refugees have returned to Syria, the report claims that hundreds of refugees were forcibly deported to Syria after being coerced or conned into signing “voluntary return” documents.
In this frame grab from video provided by Hawar News ANHA, the Kurdish news agency, residents who are angry over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria hurl potatoes at American military vehicles in the town of Qamishli, northern Syria, on Oct. 21.
A member of an honor guard stands in front of the flag-wrapped coffin of Turkish soldier Sefa Findik, who was killed during the military operation in northeast Syria, during a ceremony at the GAP Airport in Sanliurfa, Turkey, on Oct. 20.
A convoy of U.S. armored military vehicles leave Syria on a road to Iraq on Oct. 19, in Sheikhan, Iraq. Refugees fleeing the Turkish incursion into Syria arrived in Northern Iraq since the conflict began, with many saying they paid to be smuggled through the Syrian border.
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters break open the front door of a house at a position that they are holding in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain on Oct. 19. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired off a fresh warning today to "crush" Kurdish forces as both sides traded accusations of violating a US-brokered truce deal in northeastern Syria.
Ibrahim Kalin, chief advisor to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he talks to The Associated Press in Istanbul, on Oct. 19. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Syrian government forces to move out of areas near the Turkish border so it can resettle up to 2 million refugees there, Kalin said, adding that Erdogan will raise the issue in talks next week with Syria's ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Government troops have moved in to several locations in northeastern Syria this week, invited by Kurdish-led fighters to protect them from Turkey's invasion.
Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters on an armoured personnel carrier drive to cross the border into Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey, on Oct. 18. Turkish forces appeared to continue shelling the town despite yesterday's announcement, by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, that Turkey had agreed to a ceasefire in its assault on Kurdish-held towns near its border.
People react as the body of a man killed during Turkish shelling in the area surrounding the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain arrives at a hospital in the nearby town of Tal Tamr following the announced ceasefire on Oct. 18.
People poses with a Turkish flag while Turkish-backed Syrian fighters move by with armored vehicles from the Northern Syria for a military operation in Sanliurfa, Turkey, on Oct. 18. The USA and Turkey have reached a deal to suspend a Turkish military offensive in northern Syria for 120 hours, demanding Kurdish forces to withdraw from a designated 'safe zone' on the northern border.
Syrian displaced children, who fled violence after the Turkish offensive in Syria, gesture as they get their food from Barzani charity at a refugee camp in Bardarash on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq on Oct. 18.
Vice President Mike Pence talks to members of the media regarding his earlier meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey. Pence says United States and Turkey have agreed Thursday to a cease-fire in Syria.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, (L), and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley walk to a closed door Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to brief senators on the situation in Syria and the wider region on Oct. 17, in Washington, DC.
A Syrian woman with her children, who were displaced by the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria, wait to receive a tent and other aid supplies at the Bardarash refugee camp, north of Mosul, Iraq, on Oct. 17.
This picture taken on Oct. 17, from the Turkish side of the border with Syria shows smoke and fire rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain during the Turkish offensive against Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria.
Photo gallery by photo services
15 dead in Syria clashes between pro-Turkish forces, Kurds: monitor
Clashes in northeast Syria between pro-Ankara fighters backed by the Turkish air force and a Damascus-backed force led by Syrian Kurds left 15 dead on Saturday, a monitor said. Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP that nine pro-Turkish fighters and six members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed in a zone between the towns of Tal Tamr and Ras al-Ain.
The new agreement with Russia allows Turkey to keep sole control over that area. For the rest of the northeastern border, Russian and Syrian government forces will move in to ensure the Kurdish fighters leave. Then after the deadline runs out Tuesday, Turkish and Russian forces will jointly patrol a strip 10-kilometers (6 miles) deep along the border.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a convoy of military police had crossed the Euphrates River and deployed in the Syrian border town of Kobane.
"The military police will help protect the population, maintain order, patrol the designated areas and assist in the withdrawal of Kurdish units and their weapons 30 kilometers away from the border," it said.
The Turkish military said it would not resume its offensive "at this stage" after the U.S.-brokered cease-fire expired Tuesday night. However, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said that Turkish forces would "neutralize" any Syrian Kurdish fighters they come across in areas that Turkey now controls.
President Erdogan said the attack would start again if the Kurdish pullback does not take place.
"Whether its our agreement with the United States or with Russia, if the promises given are not carried out, there will be no change concerning the steps we need to take," he told journalists, according to the newspaper Hurriyet.
Erdogan said he had also asked Putin what would happen if the Syrian Kurdish fighters donned Syrian army uniforms and remained in the border area. Putin responded by saying that he would not let that happen, Erdogan said.
Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said the deal with Russia would continue until a lasting political solution for Syria is reached. He also said that Turkey agreed not to conduct joint patrols in the city of Qamishli at the eastern end of the border, because of Russian concerns they could lead to a confrontation between Turkish troops and Syrian government forces in the area.
Fraser reported from Ankara. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Lolita C. Baldor in Baghdad contributed.
US armored vehicles, infantry troops arrive in eastern Syria to guard oil facilities .
U.S. armored vehicles and infantry troops have arrived in eastern Syria as part of a new deployment to defend oil facilities from falling into the hands of ISIS.As many as 500 American troops could be part of the new force announced just three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of the 1,000 U.S. troops in northeastern Syria, saying, "It's time to come back home.
Russian Military Vehicles Entering Kobani, Syria
Video Provide by VOA Kurdish service showing Russian military vehicles entering the city of Kobani on the border with Turkey. Russia and Turkey reached an ...
Iran calls Turkish invasion of Syria unacceptable
(14 Oct 2019) Iran's president on Monday urged Turkey to halt its military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Speaking at a press conference ...