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Al-Nusra terrorists may have received Syria ‘aid’ sent to rebels by Qatar, US, Saudis – Qatari ex-FM

- 59f740aafc7e93a24c8b4567 - Al-Nusra terrorists may have received Syria ‘aid’ sent to rebels by Qatar, US, Saudis – Qatari ex-FM


The revelations, which are the first of their kind to emerge, were contained in a statement by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who served as Qatari foreign minister between 1992 and 2013. When the conflict started in Syria back in 2011, Hamad bin Jassim said that he went straight to the late Saudi King Abdullah, who then supported Doha’s plan on Syria.

While Qatar is now being accused by the Gulf kingdoms of backing terrorism, Hamad bin Jassim insists that when the Syrian crisis broke out, Doha, Riyadh and Washington were “in one and the same trench” in their vision on supporting anti-Assad militants. He made the comments during a television interview with Qatar TV in October. 

According to the former minister, all aid destined for the Syrian rebels passed via Turkey and was coordinated with the US forces. “All aid distributed on Syrian territory was also coordinated by the US forces,” said Hamad bin Jassim who also served as Qatari prime minister between 2007 and 2013.

He did not specify who exactly was to receive the aid, but the US – together with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have repeatedly voiced their support for Syrian opposition and issued both humanitarian and military aid to anti-government militants.

READ MORE: US using Al-Nusra terrorists to undermine Astana peace talks progress – Syrian FM

Distributing aid wasn’t always smooth and on at least one occasion the shipment might have fallen into the hands of terrorists, which the former official suggested were from the group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front. 

“Maybe there was some ‘interaction’ with Al-Nusra militants,” Hamad bin Jassim said. He did state that Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) terrorists were not the ones who received this unspecified aid.

At the same time, he stressed that Qatar “stopped” all interactions with Al-Nusra Front after the group was formally recognized as a terrorist organization by the international community. However, he did not specify whether the group had been supported by Doha and its allies prior to this decision.

The politician apparently likened Assad and his government to “prey” that was hunted by the Gulf monarchies and their allies but eventually got away: “We’ve all focused on liberation of Syria, but we all were fighting over the prey [Syria] and now the prey is gone. And many people in Syria died,” he said.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad still in power after years of war, many countries have suggested that he should remain, the Qatari ex-minister said. He voiced his frustration that the then-allies did not coordinate their policy shift with Doha: “I don’t object to one changing his mind if he finds that he was wrong, but at least inform your partner.”

The Syrian war, which triggered a major refugee crisis, entered its sixth year last March. The Damascus government has repeatedly dubbed the US-led campaign in the region as “illegitimate.” In September, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that the US was enabling former Al-Nusra jihadists to subvert the Astana peace process. 

According to data from Russian Defence Ministry, an offensive launched by Al-Nusra terrorists and their allies in Syria last September was orchestrated by US security services, aimed at derailing the Syrian Army operation near Deir ez-Zor.

READ MORE: US security services behind Al Nusra offensive in Syria’s Idlib – Russian MoD

This is not the first time that US aid has been found to have ended up in the wrong hands. In May, a declassified audit from the US Department of Defense showed that negligent accounting by the US military had resulted in the Pentagon not knowing what happened to more than $1 billion in arms and equipment meant for the Iraqi Army. The findings were made public as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from human-rights group Amnesty International. 

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Syria

Turkey Begins Ground Assault on Kurdish Enclave in Syria

- 22turkey1 facebookJumbo - Turkey Begins Ground Assault on Kurdish Enclave in Syria


Photo
Turkish soldiers waiting Sunday near the Syrian border. Turkish forces renewed their assault on Kurdish militia. Credit Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Turkish troops crossed the Syrian border into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday morning, beginning a ground assault against American-allied militias there, as the first accounts of casualties emerged amid rising international criticism of Turkey’s military action.

Turkish fighter jets were again in the skies Sunday bombing Kurdish militia targets in the border region. Ten people were reported killed in the bombing raids, according to Kurdish militants, and three people died on the Turkish side of the border in retaliatory shelling, local people said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of Turkey confirmed to local journalists that his country’s troops had crossed the border into Syria on Sunday morning.

Mr. Yildirim said the forces intended to create a security zone about 18 miles deep inside Syria. The area would encompass urban centers, including the town of Afrin, with a predominantly Kurdish population, and the much larger city of Manbij, further east, as well as dozens of outlying villages.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to eliminate “terrorist nests” in the Kurdish enclave, but on Sunday he promised that the operation would be swift. “Hopefully, we will complete this operation in a very short time,” he said in a speech to the women’s branch of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Bursa.

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“The real issue here is to deliver Afrin to its real owners,” Mr. Erdogan said. He said that “we have 3.5 million Syrians in our lands” and that Turkey wanted “to send our Syrian brothers back to their own land as soon as possible.”

Mr. Erdogan’s comments came amid growing international dismay over Turkey’s intervention, and amid reports of Syrian fighters massing to join the fight on both sides.

Members of the Free Syrian Army have been joining to fight alongside Turkish troops. Many of them are refugees from Arab villages and towns in the region.

At the same time, hundreds of Kurdish fighters from the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, were assembling in towns to the east and south of Afrin, according to The Associated Press.

Photo
Syrian-Kurds demonstrating Sunday in the town of Amuda against the Turkish military action. Credit Delil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A shopkeeper in Raqqa, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, said by text message that a large number of Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were being sent from Raqqa to Manbij to prepare for a Turkish attack. His cousin was among 1,000 fighters gathered in Manbij and commanders were telling them an attack was imminent.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Turkish and Russian counterparts on Saturday to express concern about the situation, a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement.

“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” the statement said.

France called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the developments and also urged Turkey to act with restraint, noting that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating in several regions of Syria.

Turkish officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for its support and arming of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the Y.P.G., which are spearheading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Yet they made clear Sunday they did not want to confront American troops in Syria.

Mr. Yildirim said Turkish forces would seek to destroy any logistics supply routes to Kurdish units, but Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said United States officials had assured Turkey there were no American troops in the region.

“It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the U.S. in the region,” he said at a news briefing for international reporters Sunday.

By nightfall Turkish troops seemed to have advanced only a few miles into Syria.

Syrian fighters allied with Turkish forces claimed to have seized control of Shankal, a village on the northwestern edge of the Afrin district, but Kurdish fighters rejected the claim.

Casualties were reported from both sides, but numbers varied.

Hanadi Hafsi, a homemaker who lives in Reyhanli, a border district in Turkey, said two Syrians and a Turk died Sunday afternoon from shelling by Kurdish militias. The shells fell on a market, killing three and wounding 32, she said. Turkish officials said that only one Syrian had refugee died and that 37 people were wounded.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the “indiscriminate rocket fire by #PYD/#YPG terrorists” in a Twitter post. “This attack on innocent people shows the real face of #PYD terrorists.”

Continue reading the main story

ISTANBUL — Turkish troops crossed the Syrian border into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday morning, beginning a ground assault against American-allied militias there, as the first accounts of casualties emerged amid rising international criticism of Turkey’s military action.

Turkish fighter jets were again in the skies Sunday bombing Kurdish militia targets in the border region. Ten people were reported killed in the bombing raids, according to Kurdish militants, and three people died on the Turkish side of the border in retaliatory shelling, local people said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of Turkey confirmed to local journalists that his country’s troops had crossed the border into Syria on Sunday morning.

Mr. Yildirim said the forces intended to create a security zone about 18 miles deep inside Syria. The area would encompass urban centers, including the town of Afrin, with a predominantly Kurdish population, and the much larger city of Manbij, further east, as well as dozens of outlying villages.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has vowed to eliminate “terrorist nests” in the Kurdish enclave, but on Sunday he promised that the operation would be swift. “Hopefully, we will complete this operation in a very short time,” he said in a speech to the women’s branch of his Justice and Development Party in the city of Bursa.

“The real issue here is to deliver Afrin to its real owners,” Mr. Erdogan said. He said that “we have 3.5 million Syrians in our lands” and that Turkey wanted “to send our Syrian brothers back to their own land as soon as possible.”

Mr. Erdogan’s comments came amid growing international dismay over Turkey’s intervention, and amid reports of Syrian fighters massing to join the fight on both sides.

Members of the Free Syrian Army have been joining to fight alongside Turkish troops. Many of them are refugees from Arab villages and towns in the region.

At the same time, hundreds of Kurdish fighters from the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been leading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, were assembling in towns to the east and south of Afrin, according to The Associated Press.

A shopkeeper in Raqqa, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, said by text message that a large number of Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were being sent from Raqqa to Manbij to prepare for a Turkish attack. His cousin was among 1,000 fighters gathered in Manbij and commanders were telling them an attack was imminent.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson spoke by telephone with his Turkish and Russian counterparts on Saturday to express concern about the situation, a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement.

“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties,” the statement said.

France called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the developments and also urged Turkey to act with restraint, noting that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating in several regions of Syria.

Turkish officials have repeatedly criticized the United States for its support and arming of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the Y.P.G., which are spearheading the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Yet they made clear Sunday they did not want to confront American troops in Syria.

Mr. Yildirim said Turkish forces would seek to destroy any logistics supply routes to Kurdish units, but Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said United States officials had assured Turkey there were no American troops in the region.

“It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the U.S. in the region,” he said at a news briefing for international reporters Sunday.

By nightfall Turkish troops seemed to have advanced only a few miles into Syria.

Syrian fighters allied with Turkish forces claimed to have seized control of Shankal, a village on the northwestern edge of the Afrin district, but Kurdish fighters rejected the claim.

Casualties were reported from both sides, but numbers varied.

Hanadi Hafsi, a homemaker who lives in Reyhanli, a border district in Turkey, said two Syrians and a Turk died Sunday afternoon from shelling by Kurdish militias. The shells fell on a market, killing three and wounding 32, she said. Turkish officials said that only one Syrian had refugee died and that 37 people were wounded.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the “indiscriminate rocket fire by #PYD/#YPG terrorists” in a Twitter post. “This attack on innocent people shows the real face of #PYD terrorists.”

Nytimes

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Syria

Turkey fires barrage of missiles on Kurdish-held targets in Syria (VIDEO)

- 5a64d376fc7e93f94e8b4567 - Turkey fires barrage of missiles on Kurdish-held targets in Syria (VIDEO)


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Syria

Last thing Syria needs after beating ISIS is another conflict – German FM on Turkish op

- 5a64c468fc7e93f8458b4569 - Last thing Syria needs after beating ISIS is another conflict – German FM on Turkish op


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