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New Turkish military operation in Syria could target Idlib

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Turkey is likely to resume its Euphrates Shield military operation in Syria, according to Yuri Mavashev, a senior political researcher at the Center for Modern Turkish Studies.

On August 24, 2016, Turkish forces, supported by Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and United States-led coalition aircraft, launched a military operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” to liberate the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh.

The signals sent by Turkish high-ranking officials, including President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, as well as some analytical reports indicate that Turkey may be considering the resumption of the operation started a year ago,” Mavashev said at a conference in Moscow.

The campaign was the first incursion of the Turkish military in Syria. The operation was criticized by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who accused Ankara of violating Syria’s territorial integrity. After Jarablus was retaken, the offensive continued to the southwest. In the end of February, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Hulusi Akar said that control was taken over the city of al-Bab and the goals of the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria had been achieved. The campaign ended on March 29.

According to the expert, despite the fact that Turkish forces took control over a certain territory in northern Syria, Ankara is not comfortable with its current status since “it lacks strategic initiative.” Mavashev pointed out that Turkey is now concerned over the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib.

The situation in Idlib has changed. Turkey relied on Ahrar-al-Sham group there, but it lost control over the region. Now Idlib is under control of Tahrir al Sham, a merger group between al-Nusra Front and some other radical groups,” Mavashev said.

in late July, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the jihadi coalition led by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front (also known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), expelled Ahrar al-Sham, an opposition group aligned with Turkey and Qatar, from the city of Idlib and its neighborhood.

Ankara signaled that a new military operation might be in consideration for northern Syria. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Yildirim said that Ankara is taking all “necessary measures” along the border with Idlib. He stressed that Turkey would defend national interests, the right to sovereignty and security if needed. According to Mavashev, Idlib is going to be the “next target” for a Turkish military offensive.

However, there is one problematic point. Turkey wants to strengthen the positions of its allied groups in Idlib because Ankara doesn’t want the region to be controlled by Damascus. But the international community may stand against such a plan. Turkey knows that if they launch a military operation now it will have big consequences. As an option, Turkey may discuss its stance on Idlib at the Astana talks and coordinate it with Russia,” the expert suggested.

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Man injures several people with knife in Munich, a perpetrator still at large

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An unidentified man attacked several people with a knife at the Rosennheimer Platz in Munchen, Germany. The perpetrator is on the run. According to local media reports, nobody was seriously injured in the attack.

The police asked residents to stay away from the scene.

“We are looking for the perpetrator with all available police forces,” the officials said. “Residents should not leave their houses.”

According to police data, ta perpetratoris a 40-year-old man last seen wearing gray pants and a green training jacket.

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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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