Russian jets mistakenly bomb US-backed forces in Syria: US

Syrian army tanks are positioned on the eastern outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 17, 2017 (AFP Photo/George OURFALIAN)

 

Washington (AFP) – Russian warplanes bombed US-backed fighters in several small villages in northern Syria after they mistakenly thought Islamic State group forces were in the area, a US general said Wednesday.

Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said Russian and Syrian regime aircraft attacked the villages to the south and east of Al-Bab in Aleppo province on Tuesday, resulting in an unspecified number of casualties.

The Russians apparently had observed Islamic State fighters moving from the area and wrongly assumed that other forces remaining were jihadists. Continue reading

Ankara threatens to ground US fighters at key Turkish air base

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Wednesday that his country would consider not allowing the US to use its Incirlik Air Base in light of Washington’s refusal to help the Turkish air force carry out operations in the area of the Syrian city of Al-Bab. He said the US lack of assistance “is leading to serious disappointment in Turkish public opinion” that “is leading to questions over Incirlik.” Continue reading

Iranian UAV attacked Turkish troops in Syria, senior source in Ankara says

An Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicle participated in an attack on Turkish troops operating in Syria that left four dead and 10 wounded in late November, a senior Turkish government source told the Turkish press on Wednesday. The attack took place just two days before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Hakan Fidan, head of the country’s MIT intelligence agency, made a surprise visit to Tehran on November 26. Continue reading

All-out Turkish-Kurd war. Barazani goes to Tehran

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An all-out Turkish-Kurdish war has boiled over in northern Syria since the Turkish army crossed the border last Wednesday, Aug. 24 for the avowed aim of fighting the Islamic State and pushing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia back. Instead of falling back, the Kurds went on the offensive and are taking a hammering. This raging confrontation has stalled the US-led coalition offensive against ISIS and put on indefinite hold any US plans for campaigns to drive the jihadists out of their Syrian and Iraqi capitals of Raqqa and Mosul. Continue reading

Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert

Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of the first two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. This step has sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in case of a backlash.

The rebel North Liberators Brigade in the Idlib region of northern Syria and the Tawhid Brigade fighting in the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo are now taking their operational orders from Turkish officers, who exercise their authority from headquarters outside Syria in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered to have stepped directly into the Syrian conflict marking the onset of foreign intervention.

Western and Arab military circles in the Middle East expect Turkey to extend its command to additional rebel units – not all of them part of the Free Syrian Army.

This first step has already caused waves.

4.  Later that day, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented: “The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state.”

Only a few of Erdogan’s listeners understood he was laying international legal grounding for expanding Turkish military intervention in Syria.

Full article: Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert (DEBKAfile)