Saturday, 5 March 2016

News from Syria/Tueky - 03/04/2016

Turkey ‘protects & supplies’ Al-Nusra camps at its border – Syria’s YPG to RT


4 April, 2016

Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists have pitched their camps right next to the border and receive regular supplies from the Turkish side, Syrian Kurdish forces told RT’s Lizzie Phelan, who traveled with YPG to investigate suspicious activity there.

An RT crew has filmed a number of vehicles coming through the Bab al-Salam crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, on the outskirts of the northern town of Azaz, which is partially controlled by Al-Nusra, according to reports.
We can actually see here the important border town of Azaz, that Turkey is determined to prevent YPG from taking. Just a little beyond that you can see the Bab al-Salam border crossing and a heavy flow of vehicles coming from Turkey into Azaz,” the RT correspondent said, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, an area that TV crews rarely gain access to.
When we zoom in we can see Turkish military vehicles, probably around a kilometer away, maybe less. And just in front here's another small village that YPG say Al-Nusra uses for training,” Phelan said.
Beyond that we can see the Turkish flag flying, that’s on the Turkish side of the border, and through there the YPG says they monitor a regular supply of weapons coming from Turkey to that Al-Nusra camp.”
2.&just a few km from Nusra controlled Azaz that is determined 2 prevent YPG from taking.
According to the Kurds, after the terror group was excluded from the ceasefire, Al-Nusra have taken down most of their flags, which would give their location away and invite airstrikes. However, the RT crew still managed to film some flags flying above their positions.

YPG are unequivocal about Turkey’s sponsorship of terrorist groups in Syria.
Head of the YPG in Afrin, Abdu Ibrahim, says Turkey is definitely providing support for terrorist groups in the area.
Turkey wanted to make a coalition against terrorism, but any country which would be in a coalition against terrorism should not open its border to Al-Nusra Front,” he said.
When there is a Kurdish prisoner, when he is in Turkish hands, they deliver him to Al-Nusra Front, whereas a wounded man from Islamic State who is in a Turkish hospital: he gets immunity and guards. No one can even look at him. What more evidence do you want than that?”

Abdu Ibrahim also said that some of the corpses that they found on the battlefield "that belong to Al-Nusra Front were of Turkish origin and we even found IDs and passports. And the ammo we found in their warehouses - closed boxes of ammo - they were closed and stamped by the Turkish government. We even found clearance documents to allow [the boxes of ammo] cross the borders which proved that they were approved to cross the borders."

Ankara says its direct strikes against the YPG are justified due to its links with the Turkish-based militant group the PKK, which Turkey has recently resumed its war against at home.

The rebel fighters on the ground say they are certain Turkey is providing assistance to IS, Al-Qaeda and Al Nusra.

The reason Turkey is on the ground is to support groups like Al-Qaeda. Support for ISIS is coming from Turkey. They are shelling because it wants to occupy our land, not to help our people. Turkey dismissed many of the armed groups, and supported Al Nusra against us,” Abu Jouma Benawii, a general in the FSA and co-founder of Jaish al-Thuwar (Army of Revolutionaries), told RT.
Our fronts against the regime have stopped, but our front agai
nst ISIS are going on and against Al Nusra as well. We are committed to the ceasefire, one million percent,” he dded.

Asked if he would have changed his mind about joining the uprising, Abu Jouma Benawii said in hindsight: "Really I would have changed my mind, because everybody contributed to destroying Syria, at the beginning and the end it is only the people who lose."

Had we known that Syria’s friends would be like this, we wouldn’t have been with them. All our people were forced to flee," he dded.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said Turkey has the right to carry out military operations not only in Syria, but in any other country hosting terror groups that threaten the Turkish state. He alleged that Ankara’s stance has “absolutely nothing to do with the sovereignty rights of the states that can’t take control of their territorial integrity.”

On the contrary, this has to do with the will Turkey shows to protect its sovereignty rights,” Erdogan dded.

houses shelled by Turkey in village near Afrin city

Turkish forces have been shelling YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization, as well as government army positions in Syria, since mid-February. 

The bombings of YPG targets, the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have been underway despite the US, Ankara's ally, viewing the Kurdish fighters as a vital partner in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

There were reports of dozens of Turkish military vehicles crossing into Kurdish northern Syria, with servicemen digging trenches in the area. Turkey’s “provocative” military buildup on the border and shelling of the Syrian territory could thwart the fragile truce and disrupt the peace process in the Arab Republic, the head of the Russian ceasefire monitoring center Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko said this week.

The ceasefire in Syria, which came into force on February 27, brokered by leading world powers, including the US and Russia, is designed to pave the way to reconciliation between the Syrian government and moderate rebel forces. They would together agree on a peaceful transition in the country. Some of the forces in Syria, including IS and Al-Nusra, are not subject to the ceasefire.

Experts have been criticizing moderate rebel forces, but even they think that the situation is shifting now.

Moderate rebels used to be “a fable, a pure lie,” Syrian political analyst Taleb Ibrahim told RT.

Everyone remembers what happened to the rebels who had been trained in Turkish camps by the CIA, and when they returned to Syria, and turned to Al-Nusra Front”.

However, the situation is starting to change slowly, as more and more Syrian rebel fighters “discover that they are destroying their country and serving external plans to divide Syria.”

Russian aircraft continue to carry out airstrikes against Al-Nusra front militants to “stabilize the situation” in the regions north of the city of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

There have been at least 31 violations of the Syrian ceasefire over the past three days, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, adding that during the same period the number of local ceasefire agreements between various factions had increased to 38.

Syrian ceasefire holds, paves way to transition – Putin, European leaders

© Iliya Pitalev
© Iliya Pitalev / Sputnik

4 March, 2016

During a conference call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy all agreed the Syrian ceasefire is a milestone achievement creating favorable conditions for inter-Syrian dialogue.

President Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held a conference call to discuss progress in the Syrian ceasefire. They are seeking to lead the country out of five years of hostilities, the Kremlin said.

The ceasefire in Syria must be respected everywhere,” Francois Hollande said, after the conference call, according to Reuters.

The leaders praised the Russian-US agreement that was also supported by the UN Security Council, noting the ceasefire regime is being observed and, more importantly, it is creating opportunities for getting the dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition groups underway.

The roadmap for a peace process in Syria, unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council in December, also garnered support from the five heads of state.

The political process must be initiated as soon as possible,” Angela Merkel said, summing up the results of the talks.

It was also discussed that there is a strong need for tighter cooperation in dealing with the humanitarian crisis afflicting Syria and to eradicate rampant terrorism in the country.

Everybody on the call had a common interest in defeating Daesh [Arabic pejorative term for Islamic State] in Syria and tackling the Islamist threat, and therefore it is in all our interest to support a peace process in the country that can lead to a stable, inclusive government that has the support of all Syrians,” David Cameron’s spokeswoman said afterwards, according to the Guardian.

Putin, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande and Matteo Renzi promised staunch support for the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), the UN Security Council and UN Syria special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The ceasefire was implemented on February 27, in compliance with the joint statement of the United States and the Russian Federation, which are acting as co-chairs of the ISSG. Terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Al Nusra Front and others that rejected the negotiations are not subject to the ceasefire.

An update

Turkish police raid opposition Zaman daily HQ, unleash tear gas & water cannon on protesters

Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds protesting outside the headquarters of the opposition Zaman newspaper. They moved in to secure the premises following a government decision to take over the management of the media group.

After clearing their way through the crowd in front of the newspaper’s HQ, the officers pushed their way inside the building.

Throw him off the staircase!” one of the officers allegedly shouted, as the raid squad pushed one of the publication’s employees down to the hall, according to a tweet written by a Zaman employee.

Zaman Editor-in-Chief Sevgi Akarcesme said that during the raid she was pushed by police as authorities tried to take her out of the building.

A police officer grabbed my phone forcefully while I was broadcasting on Periscope. I'll sue him when the rule of law is back. Unbelievable!” she tweeted. “This is beyond comprehension! Such a sad day in Turkey!”

The daily confirmed that police had gone to the management floor in the building, and were preventing editors from entering their offices. The journalists were shut out of their offices while police allegedly confiscated their cell phones, according to reports on social media.

The raid began shortly before midnight after a day of standoffs between police and opposition protesters furious about what they call a government crackdown on the free press.

The biggest opposition publication is being accused by the state of alleged links to America-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of attempting to topple the regime.

The decision by Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace to de facto censor the publication was granted after the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, that accused the publication of taking orders from what it called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY).”

The prosecutor said that the alleged terrorist group is working together with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the aim of toppling the Turkish government.

To remedy the so-called “terrorist threat,” the court ruled to sack the entire management and the editorial team of Feza Media Group companies and to replace the entire group’s administration with a three-member board appointed by the state court.

Following the court ruling the newspaper editorial team released a statement through its English-language sister publication, Today's Zaman, calling the takeover the “darkest and gloomiest” for the freedom of the press.

The statement added that “media organizations and journalists are being silenced via threats and blackmail.”

After the ruling, hundreds of people gathered outside the newspaper's offices in Istanbul protesting against the move, before police fired tear gas at protesters as they stormed the head office building.

Turkey not ‘in keeping with healthy democratic values’ – State Dept.
Amnesty International has condemned the move to silence the opposition press.

By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner from Amnesty International’s Turkey.

Even Washington, while reaffirming Turkey’s crucial role as a NATO member and US ally in the region, had to admit that the Turkish government’s recent actions are not fully consistent with the spirit of “democracy.”

We see this as the latest in the series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it…We call on the Turkish government to ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under the law. Court-ordered supervision of a media company’s finances and operations should not prompt changes to the newsroom or editorial policy,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said, reading from a prepared statement.

We don’t think that these sorts of actions are in keeping with the healthy democratic values,” Toner told RT's Gayane Chichakyan. “As Turkey’s friend and NATO ally – and we do count ourself as a friend of Turkey and we certainly are a NATO ally – we urge Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in their own constitution.”

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