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Kurdish militants in Syria wipe out Turkish tank

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A Kurdish fighting force, long one of Washington’s preferred war-making proxies in the Middle East, published a video Tuesday showing them blowing up a tank belonging to Turkey, a US ally, in Syria. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are considered a terrorist group by Ankara.

“Our forces targeted and destroyed a tank belonging to terrorist groups under the Turkish army’s command near [the] Azaz hospital in Afrin’s Shera district,” the YPG said in an August 5 Facebook post.

According to the press release of YPG, their forces targeted and destroyed a tank belonging to militants groups under the Turkish army’s command near Azaz hospital in Afrin’s Shera district. The noted group that was attempting to deploy a number of heavy weapons including the tank, has been heavily shelling YPG units near Marenaz village. The operation was a response to occupation attempts and attacks carried out against Kurdish forces, according to the statement.

US officials told Military Times that the YPG has Washington’s backing “fighting [Daesh] in and around Raqqa.” Kurdish fighters don’t have US support for operations near Azaz, however, which is “located 20 miles north of Aleppo and has been the scene of cross-border skirmishes between Turkey and Kurdish militants,” the Times added.

While carving out a Syrian Kurdistan doesn’t seem to be high on anyone’s agenda at the moment, Kurdish autonomy in Iraq is much closer to reality. The Kurds are slated to hold a controversial referendum vote in Erbil, Iraq, later this year to vote on transforming their current autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq into an independent nation.

Some in the US administration have expressed disapproval of the vote. “We do not think the referendum should happen in September,” US special presidential envoy Brett McGurk said at a State Department briefing on July 14.

 

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Israel Will Never Allow Iran’s Bases in Syria

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The Israeli Prime minister met with the Russian defense minister to discuss the situation in Syria, as well as the Iran nuclear deal in light of the US decision not to certify the agreement. Israel would not allow Iran’s permanent military presence in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said during talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, adding that Tehran “must understand this.”

Commenting on the agenda of his meeting with Shoigu, the Israeli prime minister said that the talks were dedicated to “above all, Iran’s attempts to establish military bases in Syria.”

Netanyahu earlier stated Israel “will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces.”
The Russian Defense Ministry is yet to comment on Israel’s concerns over Iran’s actions in Syria. Commeting on the negotiations, the Russian deputy defense minister has said that Shoigu and Netanyahu had “expressed confidence that the meetings held on the Israeli soil will give an additional impetus to the development of Russian-Israeli cooperation.”

Israel has been long opposing Iran’s and Lebanon-based Hezbollah’s presence in Syria. Iran has been providing support to the Syrian government in its fight against various terrorist groups, including Daesh, and acts alongside Russia and Turkey as one of the guarantor states of the ceasefire in Syria. Tehran has repeatedly refuted media reports claiming that its military had conducted independent operations in Syria.

During his September meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce missiles allegedly aiming to eradicate Israel. When asked to comment on the statement, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow has “no information that someone is preparing an attack on Israel.”

Iran Nuclear Deal

The Israeli prime minister and the Russian defense minister have also discussed the US president’s decision not to certify the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has reiterated Tel Aviv’s stance, warning of Iran potentially acquiring nuclear weapons if the deal isn’t changed. During his UNGA speech in September, Netanyahu has again addressed the threat Israel believes Iran poses to its security. According to him, the nuclear deal with Iran must be changed or canceled entirely.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced support for Israel’s stance on the nuclear agreement, calling it a “bad deal for Israel.”

On October 16, Trump suggested that Washington might unilaterally exit the agreement despite Rex Tillerson’s earlier comments, saying that the United States will try to negotiate the agreement, which is, according to him, in the best interests of his country.

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Iran Pledges to Confront Israel After Attack on Syrian Air Defense

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Iran’s Military Chief has warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace in the wake of this week’s attack of Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria.

“It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants,” Baqeri said during a news conference with his Syrian counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Damascus on Wednesday, and promised to increase cooperation with the Syrian military “to confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists”.

The sides established the board lines for this cooperation.

The comments of the Iran’s Chief of Staff come in the follow up to the attack of the Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria, which had allegedly shelled at Israeli warplanes as they were conducting a reconnaissance mission at the Syria-Lebanon border.

The Syrian Army however said the Israeli aircraft violated Syria’s airspace near the border with Lebanon in the early hours of Monday and therefore had been attacked by its defense systems.

Israeli Air Forces earlier said that its jets have struck Hezbollah and Syrian military facilities and convoys nearly 100 times during the six-year-long war, with the goal of preventing the transfer of weapons from Iran to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group.

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