Archive | Turkey

How Jerusalem issue plays into Iranian, Turkish (and Russian) hands

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By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times 

Iran has, predictably enough, taken a hard line on the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There were public demonstrations in several Iranian cities following Friday prayers and statements by President Hassan Rouhani and other senior politicians. Notably, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned: “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) will be the place where the Zionist regime will be buried.”

It was Turkey’s reaction that set the mind thinking that the ground beneath our feet is shifting, however. President Recep Erdogan used exceptional language in his response, calling Israel a “terrorist” state. His stance is important for a variety of reasons. Turkey is currently chairing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has called for an emergency summit in Istanbul on Wednesday. This puts Erdogan in the driving seat.

The OIC has traditionally kowtowed to Saudi Arabia. But the Saudi regime finds itself on the defensive at the moment. The unsavory talk in the bazaar is that King Salman and the Crown Prince have played footsie with Trump and Jared Kushner. Erdogan hears bazaar gossip, for sure. Will the OIC recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine? This is a possibility.

Both Iran and Turkey repudiate the notion of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital. Iran has brought into play the politics of “resistance,” whereas Erdogan stresses “We will continue our struggle decisively within the law and democracy.” The distinction must be noted – but then, so must the degree of convergence.

Iran and Turkey have both long wished for an end to Saudi Arabia calling the shots in the Muslim Middle East. Now that the issue of Jerusalem has come to the fore, the Saudi regime must be wary of being seen to coordinate with Israel, or dancing to Trump’s tune.

The Saudi regime is also grappling with the quagmire in Yemen, where it is shedding “Muslim blood.” Pressure will now increase to end the war in there. Rouhani put forth on Sunday two preconditions to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia – stop “bowing” to Israel and, secondly, end the war in Yemen.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Iran, Turkey0 Comments

The CIA, Fetullah Gülen and Turkey’s Failed July 2016 Coup

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Behind Turkish Arrest Warrant for Ex CIA Graham Fuller

 

The Office of the Istanbul Prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for two “former” CIA agents, accusing them of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. US media and various Washington think-tanks have dismissed the charges as “implausible” and a “likely tit-for-tat” response of Erdogan for the arrest by US authorities of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader accused of violating US sanctions against Iran. Clearly is there is far more behind the accusations than is being said so far.

On December 1, Turkish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Graham E. Fuller, former head of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council and former CIA head of Middle East and East Asia operations. The warrant claims Fuller was in the vicinity of Istanbul the night of the coup attempt at a meeting with another top “former” CIA person, Henri Barkey. It claims both CIA veterans were meeting at the five-star Splendid Hotel on the island of Büyükada some 20 minutes boat ride from Istanbul.

What’s notable about the charge is the degree of involvement of Fuller with the reclusive Turkish cult leader, Fetullah Gülen, now in exile at an estate in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since he was forced to flee Turkey in 1998 to escape trial for treason against the state.

“One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam…”

In July, 2016, less than a week after Erdogan accused the vast Turkish network of Gülen for being behind the coup, of using a network of senior military officers who had been recruited into the Gülen organization, Fuller wrote for Huffington Post a fulsome praise of Gülen titled, “The Gulen Movement Is Not a Cult; It’s One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam Today.” In it Fuller wrote,

“I believe it is unlikely that Gulen was the mastermind behind the dramatic failed coup attempt against Erdogan last week…”

Fuller goes on to admit he formally backed granting Gülen special US visa status in 2006:

“Full disclosure: It is on public record that I wrote a letter as a private citizen in connection with Gülen’s US green card application in 2006 stating that I did not believe that Gülen constituted a security threat to the US…”

Fuller’s “full disclosure” then however omits the fact that it was not merely a casual letter of recommendation to a man Fuller claimed he had met only once. Fuller’s endorsement of Gülen’s Green Card application was so influential that he managed to override the no votes of the FBI, of attorneys for the US State Department and Homeland Security. In the Gülen hearings, State Department attorneys stated,

“Because of the large amount of money that Gülen’s movement uses to finance his projects, there are claims that he has secret agreements with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkic governments. There are suspicions that the CIA is a co-payer in financing these projects.”

Gülen in NATO’s Gladio

The ties between Fetullah Gülen and the CIA go way back to the 1980’s when Gülen was recruited to be active in a Turkish right-wing NATO “Gladio” network codenamed Counter-Guerrilla. Gülen broadcast over the CIA’s Radio Free Europe into the Islamic regions of the Soviet Union.

Counter-Guerrilla members were responsible for a series of far-right terrorist attacks in Turkey and facilitated a bloody US-backed 1980 military coup. Indeed, in a little slip, in his July 2016 defense of Gülen, Fuller writes in praise about Gülen that,

“He even felt compelled to support the military takeover of the state in 1980 in order to preserve the state…”

That US-instigated 1980 coup, as Fuller well knows, established a military dictatorship under General Kenan Evren in which 650,000 people were detained, 230,000 people trialed, all political parties, unions and foundations were closed, 171 were killed under custody, hundreds of thousands people were tortured, and thousands are still missing. A former senior US intelligence official later reported that as the 1980 coup was underway, then President Jimmy Carter was informed by an aide who said, “Our boys have done it.” And Gülen, the peaceful Muslim, endorsed that brutal CIA coup.

Gülen and CIA English Teachers

In the post-Soviet chaos of the 1990’s in Central Asia the CIA used Gülen and his moderate Islam image to build one of their most extensive networks of subversion reaching across the entire so-called Turkic region of former Soviet Central Asia including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and even into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China, where ethnic Uyghurs have been recruited via Turkey to wage terror in Syria in recent years.

In 2011, Osman Nuri Gündeş, former head of Foreign Intelligence for the Turkish MIT (the “Turkish CIA”) and chief intelligence adviser in the mid-1990s to Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, published a book that was only released in Turkish. In the book, Gündeş, then 85 and retired, revealed that, during the 1990s, the Gülen schools then growing up across Eurasia were providing a base for hundreds of CIA agents under cover of being “native-speaking English teachers.” According to Gündeş, the Gülen movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. The CIA “teachers,” he added, submitted reports to an arm of the Pentagon.

Gülen’s organization had been active in destabilizing newly-independent Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union from the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, when the nominally Muslim Central Asian former Soviet republics declared their independence from Moscow. Gülen was named by one former FBI authoritative source as “one of the main CIA operation figures in Central Asia and the Caucasus.”

Who is G. Fuller?

Even Fuller himself admits that the Gülen organization had some two million members in Turkey on the eve of the July 2016 coup. They had systematically infiltrated and largely controlled national policy, the judiciary, national education and the military. Moreover, Fuller’s CIA associate, Henri Barkey, also under arrest warrant, admitted following the failed coup that he had been in the Istanbul area the night of the coup.

Image result for Henri Barkey

Henri Barkey

Allegedly, Turkish authorities now have evidence that Fuller was also there and reportedly flown out of Istanbul across the border to safety in Greece as it became obvious the coup was failing. The Istanbul prosecutor’s office reportedly determined that Fuller had direct contact with former CIA official Henri Barkey and other suspects involved in the coup attempt. Both Barkey and Fuller, who both co-authored a book on Turkey titled Turkey’s Kurdish Question, are accused of organizing a meeting at Splendid Hotel in Büyükada, a 20 minute boat ride from Istanbul on the day of the coup in July 15 2016.

To read Fuller’s words on news of the Turkish arrest warrant, one would come away with the impression that Graham Fuller was a minor CIA figure. He wrote,

“I served only once in Turkey…as the most junior officer in the CIA Base in Istanbul in the mid 1960s. I met Gülen exactly once in my life, long years after retiring from CIA, in an interview I conducted with him 15 years ago in Istanbul.”

Fuller may have been junior CIA officer in Istanbul in the 1960’s; careers begin somewhere. However he didn’t stay so for long.

By 1982 the CIA named him National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia. This was in the early years of the CIA Operation Cyclone, the vast CIA covert war in Afghanistan using Mujahideen and using Saudi Osama bin Laden to recruit fanatical jihadist terrorists from the Arab world to kill Soviet soldiers and bog the USSR into what Zbigniew Brzezinski and others referred to as the Soviet’s own Vietnam. Graham Fuller was certainly involved in that CIA Afghan war. He was Kabul CIA Station Chief until 1978, on the eve of the CIA’s launch of their Mujahideen Operation Cyclone.

Then Fuller was posted to CIA Langley where by 1982 the CIA appointed him National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia, which included bin Laden’s Saudi Arabia as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan and Turkey. In 1986, the CIA appointed Graham Fuller vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council, where he presumably was in a deciding role in the entire Afghan war and more.

In 1987 according to the New York Times, Fuller as vice-chair of the CIA National Intelligence Council wrote an “instrumental” memo advising what became the explosive Iran-Contra scandal, in which the CIA would arrange covert arms sales to Iran to feed the US-orchestrated Iran-Iraq War and use the proceeds to illegally fund the Nicaragua right-wing Contras. In 1988 as media began to investigate the illegal Iran-Contra details, Fuller left his very senior CIA for a post with the Pentagon and CIA-tied RAND corporation where he remained until 2000. Some suspect it was to get out of the Congressional Iran-Contra limelight.

Gülen, Fuller and Central Asia Geopolitics

Notably, while at RAND he co-authored a highly revealing book with Paul B. Henze in 1993 titled Turkey’s New Geopolitics: From the Balkans to Western China. The book describes precisely the geopolitical network that Gülen has been accused of creating with the CIA after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Henze was also a key CIA figure in the Turkish coup in 1980 that Fuller describes positively in connection with Gülen.

In the US Congressional Record, Fuller is quoted as saying,

“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.”

In this context highly interesting is an interview in 2011, by the Washington Post with Graham Fuller. There Fuller categorically denied charges by former head of Turkish MIT intelligence that Gülen schools across Central Asia served as cover for CIA agents to infiltrate the Muslim republics of former Soviet Union. Fuller stated,

“I think the story of 130 CIA agents in Gulen schools in Central Asia is pretty wild.”

Yet Fuller, the former CIA senior official responsible for operations in East Asia and the Middle East wrote a book in 2007 titled The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World. At the center of the book was praise for Gülen and his “moderate” Islamic Gülen Movement in Turkey:

“Gülen’s charismatic personality makes him the number one Islamic figure of Turkey. The Gülen Movement has the largest and most powerful infrastructure and financial resources of any movement in the country. . . The movement has also become international by virtue of its far-flung system of schools. . . in more than a dozen countries including the Muslim countries of the former Soviet Union, Russia, France and the United States.”

Then Fuller went on in the 2011 Washington Post interview to deny ever knowing George Fidas, a 31-year-long fellow career CIA senior officer and co-signer with Fuller of the letter asking the US State Department to admit Gülen on a special visa:

“I did not recommend him (Gülen-w.e.) for a residence permit or anything else. As for George Fidas, I have never even heard of him and don’t know who he is.”

Would so prominent a figure as Graham Fuller, former top CIA official bother to sign an appeal for Fetullah Gülen, a man he claims he met only once, and not examine who else signs? Highly implausible.

More unlikely, as another co-signer of the Gülen US visa appeal was former Istanbul US Ambassador Morton Abramowitz whose career, like that of Fuller, has involved him with both the Afghan Mujahideen networks. In 1986 as Fuller was running oversight of the Afghan Mujahideen from his senior post at CIA, Abramowitz, as Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research in the Reagan administration, helped arrange delivery of the Stinger missiles to the Mujahideen. Abramowitz later co-founded the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group that played a key role in justifying the illegal 1999 US bombing of Serbia and later became a director of the CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy.

Whatever the outcome of the Turkish charges against Graham Fuller and his close former CIA associate, Henri Barkey, for their alleged involvement in the failed July 15, 2016 Turkish coup d’etat, it clearly throws a major spotlight of world attention on the relation between the CIA and the Fetullah Gülen organization. To open that can of worms could help fumigate more than thirty years of covert Central Asia and other CIA operations with Osama bin Laden, opium trade, Kosovo drug mafia, Turkish dirty CIA operations and far more. Little wonder Graham Fuller writes a blog with the pathetic title, “Why did Turkey Issue an Arrest Warrant Against Me?”

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No, The US Didn’t Abandon The Syrian Kurds

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By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review 

Trump has ostensibly compromised by promising Turkish President Erdogan that he’ll stop arming the Syrian Kurds.

The US and Turkish leaders spoke by phone last Friday, during which time Trump allegedly gave his counterpart his word that he will stop giving arms to the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish side reported that Trump called the previous policy of arming the YPG “nonsense” and promised to end it, while the official White House readout was more ambiguous and said that he “informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria”.

The discrepancy between both side’s interpretation of the conversation prompted the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister to state that the US “would be deceiving the whole world” if it went back on its pledge, while the Pentagon reiterated that it is “reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners in as much as the military requirements of our defeat-ISIS and stabilization efforts will allow to prevent ISIS from returning.”

In addition, it should be reminded that reports have been circulating that the US might officially acknowledge that up to 2000 of its troops are in Syria, which would be around 4x more than what it previously admitted, and that the Pentagon is moving towards more of an “open-ended” mission in the war-torn country now that Daesh – it’s supposed reason for being there – is defeated. What all of this means is that the US will probably not withdraw from Syria, and there’s a chance that arms shipments to the Kurds might continue.

No matter what Trump may or may not have said to President Erdogan, he’s on record in early April saying that he’s given the US military “total authorization” to do what it wants, so if the Pentagon decides that there’s a need to continue arming the Syrian Kurds, then that’s exactly what the US will likely end up doing. Furthermore, nobody knows the exact terminology that Trump might have used during his phone call, so there’s a chance that he might try to employ a “technical loophole” by selling weapons to the Syrian Kurds instead of “loaning” them like the US is presently doing.

In any case, the unlikelihood of the US military withdrawing from Syria means that the Pentagon could still extend a defense umbrella to its on-the-ground allies, thus staving off a Turkish military intervention and creating the pretext for forming a so-called “air bridge” in the event that the neighboring states attempt to blockade this region like they did to Iraqi Kurdistan. The key difference between the Iraqi Kurds and the Syrian ones is that the former didn’t have 2000 US troops and reportedly 10 American bases on their territory, hence why Washington “betrayed” them.

In addition, Iraq is already an internally partitioned country for the most part due to its “federal” status, while Syria has yet to formally follow in its footsteps, so the indefinitely prolonged US military presence there is designed to advance Washington’s preferred “political solution” by pressuring Damascus, while Trump’s talk about supposedly discontinuing weapons shipments to the Syrian Kurds is meant to give Turkey a “face-saving” excuse for passively accepting what they had previously said would be a clear red line for them.

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Turkey threatens to remove US radar systems from its soil and indicates future intentions for Syria

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In one speech, Turkey’s President Erdogan clarified his position vis-a-vis both NATO and Syria.

Turkey’s increasingly fraught relationship with NATO has just entered a new crisis as Ankara threatens to remove a substantial US radar system from its soil, should Washington fail to complete the transfer of F-35 fighter jets ordered by Turkey.

The row has its origins in Turkey’s recent purchase of Russia’s powerful S-400 missile defence systems.

The Pentagon has announced that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s “would jeopardise the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey”.

In response, Turkey has stated that if the F-35s are not delivered, Turkey may take steps to remove the Malatya- Kürecik AN-TPY-2 radar system that the US set-up on Turkish soil in 2012. Turkish media outlet Yeni Safak has reported that if Turkey were to force the removal of US radar facilities from its soil, the US would lose its key means of gathering intelligence on movements which occur inside Iranian borders. This is significant as Turkey and Iran continue to make further mutual commitments to bilateral security at a time when the US has upped its anti-Iranian rhetoric inline with near identical Israeli propaganda. By contrast, Washington’s other radar systems in the Middle East are not able to penetrate beyond Iran’s western borders.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded by challenging the “trustworthiness” of NATO. This comes days after Erdogan’s name as well as that of Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic were found on a poster of NATO “enemies” during a recent pan-NATO military drill in Norway, which Turkey subsequently withdrew from.

Erdogan has stated,

“Yesterday, you saw impudence at a NATO exercise in Norway. Some mistakes are not committed by fools, but by vile people. This impudence that targets me and the founder of our republic … reflects the distorted point of view that we have been observing in NATO for a while.

And now, when we try to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia, the reaction from some countries of the alliance [NATO] proved this distortedness”,

Erdogan then issued a statement whose interpretations will be much debated internationally, over the coming days and weeks. Turning to the conflict in Syria, the Turkish President stated,

“We will also save Afrin and we will deliver Manbij (Kurdish enclaves on Syrian soil) to its original owners. We will clear terrorist organisations out of all areas”.

There are two distinct interpretations of this statement, should it be taken at face value. First of all, the interpretation that is consistent with international law is that Erdogan seeks to return Kurdish occupied territories of the Syrian Arab Republic back to the Syrian government which is literally rightful owner of its own territory.

Others will be quick to jump onto the fact that Erdogan may be referencing the Ottoman Imperial map of the region, in which Afrin and Manbij, like almost all of the Arab world were territories belonging to Ottoman Turkey. Some will assert that this is what Erdogan means when he talks about “original owners”.

The reality most likely leans towards the first interpretation of the remarks. Practical realities on the ground and in geo-political relations attest to the likelihood of this interpretation.

Turkey is now in a position, largely thanks to tacit Syrian approval and an implied Russian lack of disapproval, to go after unilaterally declared Kurdish regimes operating on Syrian soil. As the war against Takfiri terrorism draws gradually to a close, Syria has become intent on preventing any would-be Kurdish insurgencies, especially since this could be the cover the US seeks to expand its illegal occupation of Syria.

Because of Turkey’s increased reliance on its economic partnership with Russia, it is becoming equally clear that Turkey is not in a position to defy Russia in Syria, even if it sought to do so.

At present Turkey’s once illegal occupation of Syria has gained a quasi-legal status through Turkey’s participation in the Astana peace talks which are co-chaired by Syria’s allies Russia and Iran and whose decisions are each approved by Damascus.

However, when the conflict in Syria is officially over, Turkey will lose any mandate for a continued presence in Syria.

Today’s remarks by Erdogan shed clarity on his future goals for northern Syria. He seeks to deprive Kurdish insurgent groups of their ability to create a de-facto statelet on Syrian territory. Thus, Erdogan’s words signal a clear mission with a clear goal. This can be contrasted with remarks made in previous years by Erdogan, suggesting that the Turkish occupation of Syria would be an indefinite phenomenon.

While many will remain sceptical of Erdogan’s remarks seeing as Turkey has established post-offices and other state offices in Syria’s Idlib, this is by no means a sign of permanence. When the Soviet Union was illegally broken-up by the leaders of the Russian Russian Soviet Federation Socialist Republic, Ukrainian Soviet Soviet Republic and Belorussian Soviet Social Republic, facilities throughout the Soviet Union were instantly taken away from Moscow in spite of years of legitimate economic activity by Moscow on its own legal territory. Likewise, after 1991, Russia’s former allies in central and eastern Europe unceremoniously kicked Russia out, in spite of previous agreements. Russia left and has no desire to come back. Whether this was a wise decision or not is open to debate, but the facts dictate that it is possible for allied troops to leave a country when no longer welcome, in spite of a lengthy alliance, the kind which Syria and Turkey certainly do not have.

If Moscow could so easily accept the loss of control of its territories and influence over her allies after 1991, Turkey’s small state-ventures in Idlib suddenly appear minuscule by comparison. One way or another, Turkey will have to cut its losses and Erdogan’s remarks clarify that once Kurdish militants are pacified, Ankara will likely be willing to do so in one way or another, not least because without support from the US, Turkey will not want to anger its new partners in Russia or Iran whose relationship with Ankara remains generally positive for all sides.

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Turkish Charity IHH Works with Turkish Intelligence MIT to Arm Terrorist Groups

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BY 


IHH blankets & equipment were found in almost all schools & hospitals occupied by terrorist factions in East Aleppo, led by Nusra Front. Photo is from Nusra Front occupied Eye Hospital Al Sha’ar in April 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

“The main supplier of weapons and military equipment to ISIL fighters is Turkey, which is doing so through non-governmental organizations,” Churkin said in a letter dated March 18, referring to the self-declared “Islamic State” (IS) group by another acronym, ISIL. Churkin accused the Besar Foundation, the Iyilikder Foundation and the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH) of shipping “various supplies” on behalf of Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency.” ~ DW report 

The following report is by exiled Turkish journalist, Abdullah Bozkurt, President of the Stockholm Centre for Freedom:

“A new cache of confidential documents from a classified investigation in Turkey shows that controversial charity group the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or IHH, in Turkish) has been working with the Turkish spy agency, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), to enable jihadist terror groups.

The documents, copies of which were recently provided to me by a reliable source, clearly show that the head of the IHH, Bülent Yıldırım, has been in bed with the Turkish spy agency in running jihadist networks from Syria to Turkey. They also reveal the extent of his network with the Turkish government at the Cabinet level. It lays bare how the grass roots of the IHH were mobilized by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when the Turkish president needed political cover in the face of public pressure and criticism. They are in line with Russian allegations at the United Nation Security Council that the IHH was running arms to Syrian jihadist groups with cover provided by the Turkish government.

Secret probe revealed how  head Bulent YIldirim has a direct line to spy master Hakan Fidan’s aide.

IHH president Bulent Yildirim talks to intel officer to arrange a meeting for Zahran Alloush, the head of Liwa al-Islam, who was in  pic.twitter.com/BCIBvi0I84

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

The secret investigation included the transcripts of 142 phone wiretaps that were duly authorized by the courts between Jan. 6, 2013 and Dec. 17, 2013 as part of an investigation into radical Islamist groups. They identify a man named Veli Çayır, an intelligence officer who worked as the right-hand man of Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish spy agency. It feels like the IHH head has a special hotline to Çayır and calls him whenever he feels he needs to share information on developments in Turkey and abroad where the IHH has operations under the cover of charitable work. In wiretapped evidence dated Feb. 25, 2013, Çayır makes clear to Yıldırım that he was assigned to work with him under specific orders from MIT Undersecretary Fidan and can call him day and night if needed.

IHH president Bulent Yildirim talks to intel officer to arrange a meeting for Zahran Alloush, the head of Liwa al-Islam, who was in pic.twitter.com/BCIBvi0I84

IHH President Bulent Yildirim tells pro-Jihadist guy Adem Özköse that arms or funds to buy arms must be provided for Jihadists in  pic.twitter.com/HVbprKhLd8

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The records show they try to avoid divulging secret information on the phone and prefer to use couriers to send sensitive messages or get together in person in secure locations. At times, Yıldırım appears to have visited the headquarters of MIT in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district. Nevertheless, they inadvertently release much information on the phone as they talk. The information gleaned from the wiretaps is enough to tie the IHH to Turkey’s notorious intelligence agency. Given the fact that the IHH has penetrated many countries abroad including ones in Europe under the guise of charitable and humanitarian work, there are enough reasons to be concerned about Erdoğan’s long arm reaching out to Turkish and Muslim diaspora communities.

On May 4, 2013 Yıldırım talks to Adem Özköse, a journalist who is known to be very close to jihadist groups, and says they should go and fight in Syria. When Özköse asked what exactly they should be doing in Syria, Yıldırım says arms should be sent to Syria or funds must be provided so that jihadists can purchase arms. He says he got fed up with protest meetings as they are futile for getting results. In a wiretap on Nov. 23, 2013, the IHH president brags about how he chided Muslim scholars who criticized the IHH for carrying arms under the guise of humanitarian aid. He says he told them the IHH can only send small arms in aid packages, while others are sending missiles.


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) is seen with Bülent Yıldırım (R), head of the IHH, and Sedat Peker, a pro-government ultranationalist Turkish mafia leader, during a wedding ceremony in İstanbul in 2015.

In fact, the IHH sent weapons to Syria. The al-Qaeda investigation in January 2014 in Turkey’s eastern province of Van revealed how an IHH employee was working with a Turkish al-Qaeda cell and using the charity as a cover to move supplies to militants in Syria. The terrorists used the IHH’s logistics centers in two Turkish provinces, Kilis and Kayseri, to send funds and medical and household supplies to jihadists in Syria. Thanks to monitoring by police intelligence since 2012, a terrorist cell led by İbrahim Şen (37), a convicted al-Qaeda terrorist who was running a recruitment and trafficking drive between Turkey and Syria and using the IHH, among others, was uncovered.

Şen was detained in Pakistan on alleged al-Qaeda links and transferred to Guantanamo where he was kept until 2005, before US officials decided to turn him over to Turkey. According to the investigation file in Turkey, he had been working with Turkey’s MİT since the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011. Apparently due to his political cover from the government and a secret contract with MİT, Şen was saved from legal troubles. He was arrested in January 2014 and indicted in October 2014 but let go at the first hearing of the trial in October 2014.

Investigators believed that Şen used these NGOs when he wanted to conceal illegal shipments to jihadists, and the conclusion was that these NGOs took part in this scheme deliberately, knowing full well what they were getting into. Three people identified by the police as partners of Şen in smuggling goods to Syria are Ömer Faruk Aksebzeci (works out of the IHH Kayseri branch), Recep Çamdalı (a member of the IHH in the Kayseri branch) and İbrahim Halil İlgi (working out of the Kilis IHH branch). The transcripts of wiretaps between Şen and these operatives showed how they planned to use ambulances to transport goods to jihadists when the border governor prohibited pick-up trucks from crossing into Syria.

The IHH was flagged by Russia as the organization that smuggled arms to jihadist groups in Syria, according to intelligence documents submitted to the UN Security Council on Feb. 10, 2016. The document even furnished the license plate numbers of trucks dispatched by the IHH loaded with arms and supplies bound for al-Qaeda-affiliated groups including the Nusra Front.

The new confidential documents that I got my hands on expose how IHH President Yıldırım is intimately involved with rebels in Syria. For example, on May 28, 2013 Yıldırım called his contact at MIT, informing him that the IHH was hosting Zahran Alloush, the head of Liwa al-Islam (later changed its name to Jaysh al-Islam), a Salafist jihadist group active around Damascus, in Turkey and wanted to arrange a meeting between him, his deputy Abu Nour and MIT officials. Alloush was later killed by a Syrian Air Force airstrike on Dec. 25, 2015.

In another call on June 12, 2013, Fidan’s aide Çayır called the IHH chairman, asking him to provide support for the Al-Rahman Legion (Faylaq Al-Rahman), an armed opposition group that has a base near the Turkish-Syrian border crossing at Cilvegözü (Bab al-Hawa). He says the group is running low on supplies and asks the IHH to replenish his stocks. On Aug. 16, 2013 Yıldırım let his handler at MIT know that a man was caught in Syria and confessed to important information. His man recorded everything in the video and wanted to send the footage to the intelligence service in Ankara. In a phone conversation that took place on May 13, 2013, Yıldırım tells Çayır about a militant who would come to Turkey to stage an attack on members of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Council (al-Majlis al-Watani), which is based in Istanbul. He says he picked up the intel from a reliable source.

In a phone call on July 11, 2013, Yıldırım talks about an operation that involves a border crossing by a group in Syria and tells Çayır that he has misgivings about the people selected for the operation and underlines that they may fail in their task. He says he would coordinate the action with the intelligence officers on the ground. He also shares that IHH teams identified villagers who possess a highly dangerous chemical substance that is used in refining oil.

In a wiretap dated March 23, 2013 IHH head Yıldırım and MIT official Çayır talk about how to finalize a prisoner swap in Syria where a female officer from the Syrian army was caught by rebels and handed over to the IHH in exchange for the release by the Bashar al-Assad government of a captive opposition fighter. According to the plan, the woman was supposed to be picked up in Aleppo by the IHH and handed over to MIT for transfer to Iran.

It is not just In Syria, by the way, that the IHH is involved in arms trafficking. A document revealed from the authenticated email communications of Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak also implicated the IHH in arming Libyan factions. The secret document tells the tale of how the owner of a bankrupt sea shipping and container company asked for compensation from the Turkish government for damage his ship sustained while transporting arms between Libyan ports at the order of Turkish authorities in 2011. The document revealed all the details of a Turkish government-approved arms shipment to rebels in a ship contracted by the IHH.

All this solid evidence confirms the IHH is not just a charity group but rather a shadowy contractor that does the secret bidding of Turkish intelligence agency MIT under orders from the Islamist government of President Erdogan. Since it has been active around the world including in Europe and Southeast Asia, IHH activities and its operatives must be closely monitored and its initiatives must be thwarted no matter how they innocent they seem to be.

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Turkey to Establish Eight Military Bases in Syria’s Idlib Province

NOVANEWS

 

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) are going to establish 8 military bases in Syria’s Idlib province, according to the conservative Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Şafak.

“The Taftanaz Air Base and the Abu al-Duhur Military Airbase [in Syria’s Idlib province] are also two separate points that the TAF uses,” the daily writes.

According to the daily, the Syrian Arab Army’s largest garrison in the vicinity of the Deif region is now controlled by Turkish forces.

The TAF entered Syria’s Idlib province under a pretext of implemeting the de-escalation zones agreement reached by Tehran, Ankara and Moscow in the Astana talks on the Syrian conflict.

The Turkish military announced that it established the first observation post on October 13. Considering that no clashes between the TAF and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) have been reported since then, it becomes clear that Turkey has some kind of deal with the terrorist group which is the most influential “opposition faction” in the province.

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The Military Strategy of the New Turkey

Featured image: Breaking with the Davutoğlu doctrine (“zero problems with your neighbours”), which he had already abandoned in practice leading his dismissing his Prime Minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defined his country’s new objectives during a speech on 15 October 2016, given at a university named after him. (Source: Voltairenet.org)

The Turkish army imagined a military strategy like a Russian doll. The official purpose of the operations that have just begun is to fight the jihadists. In actual fact, the real purpose of leading these operations is to prevent the creation of new States, the Rojava and Kurdistan. The operations are masking the possible implementation of the national oath of 1920 with the conquest of North East Greece, the entire Island of Cyprus, Northern Syria and Northern Iraq; the conquering of former territories publicly demanded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

***

Operation of 8 October 2017

Following an agreement concluded between Russia and Turkey during the most recent Astana negotiations, the Turkish army entered the governorate of Idleb, violating Syrian sovereignty, in order to combat the jihadists there.

The Turkish army distinguishes between the following groups:

  • the Syrian Turkmen which it had gathered under the flag of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA) and which it intends to use as a support in the region.
  • the Jihadists that accept to continue their fight in South East Asia and which should be transferred there by Turkish Secret Services (MIT).
  • all the others, which should be eliminated.

Furthermore, the Turkish army already occupies Al-Bab, also violating Syrian sovereignty.

The Turkish presence at Idleb cuts the Rojava’s access to the Mediterranean Sea. Its presence at Al-Bab offers it the possibility of cutting the Rojava into two and wiping out this pseudo State.

The Joint Operation of 12 October 2017

Turkey, Iran and Iraq had met to deaden the vague hopes of an independent pseudo Kurdistan. The Barzani family and Israel have gradually swallowed up territories thanks to local conflicts and war. In 15 years, the territory administered by the Barzanis and Israel under the name “Iraqi Kurdistan” has multiplied its areas by fivefold to the detriment of the native, Arab and Christian populations. On 25 September 2017, the Barzani family and Israel organized a referendum on independence. Following a vote that was largely rigged, especially in the Christian areas, the yes vote reached 92 %. During a popular festival, the Barzani family, brandishing Kurdish and Israeli flags, announced that the process for independence was irreversible. The journal Kurds-Israel revealed that an agreement had been concluded between Tel-Aviv and Erbil providing for 200,000 citizens to be transferred to the “Kurdistan”, once independence had been declared. The Israeli army intends to promptly station missiles there to threaten both Syria and Iran.

The pipeline linking the pseudo Kurdistan to the port of Ceyhan (Turkey) will be closed by BOTAŞ, the Turkish public operator which owns it. Accordingly, the Barzanis’ oil revenues would be cut. Currently, Kurdish oil is chiefly exploited by the French company Total. It is sold in the European Union, Ukraine and Israel where it represents almost the entire domestic consumption.

The Turkish and Iranian air space will be closed with the pseudo-Kurdistan. Taking account of the war, Syrian air space is not practicable for civil flights. Flights from and to Erbil will necessarily have to pass through Bagdad.

The border-posts between Turkey and Iran on the one side and the pseudo Kurdistan on the other, will all be closed, thereby cutting custom revenues of a potentially new State. So as to maintain Turkish-Iraqi trade relations, a new route will be open along the Syrian-Iraqi border permitting Ankara to be linked up to Bagdad. The Iraqi army will station 13,000 men to guarantee its security, whilst the construction works for a new pipeline along this route will begin at once.

This route will cut communications between the pseudo-Kurdistan and the Rojava.

Since 2015, the Turkish army has been occupying Bachiqa (the pseudo-Kurdistan), thereby violating Iraqi sovereignty.

An ultimatum (by 1 November at the latest) will be addressed to the Barzani family preventing it from announcing independence. In case it refuses, the Turkish army is preparing to declare war against the pseudo-Kurdistan. It would make a two-pronged attack on Erbil, from the Turkish border on the one hand, and from the new route that has been secured by the Iraqi army, on the other hand.

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In 1920, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, drafts a national oath challenging the winners of the First World War and claiming the annexation of new territories for the Muslim populations whether they are in the majority or minority.

Objectives of the New Turkey

Three months after the assassination attempt and the coup d’etat were aborted in July 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered an inaugural address at the university which bears his name (RTEÜ). He then provided a glimpse into the ambitions of the Turkish Republic following its creation and those of the new regime. Making explicit reference to “the National Oath” (Misak-ı Millî), adopted by the Ottoman Parliament on 12 February 1920, he justified conquering former territories. This oath, which lays the basis for the passage of the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic, claims the territory of the North East of Greece (Western Thrace and the Dodecanese), the whole of Cyprus, Northern Syria (as well as Idleb, Alep and Hasakah), and Northern Iraq (including Mosul).

In 1939, France only granted Hatay (Syria) to Turkey. Paris was also hoping that Ankara gets rid of its orthodox Christians which have their patriarchal base in Antioch.

Having counted off these territories one by one, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is claiming them in his turn [1].

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the only Head of State of a developed country to challenge the international order and to publicly claim, where necessary by force, new territories.

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The US-Turkish “Visa War” Is a Hybrid War Harbinger

The US-Turkish “visa war” began when Ankara arrested a US consulate employee on terror charges over his suspected connections with the Gulenists, which served as the pretext for the US to do what it had apparently been considering for some time, and that’s effectively block Turks from visiting the US by de-facto including them for the indefinite future on Trump’s “travel ban”. Turkey, keen on retaining its dignity, followed suit with a reciprocal measure for Americans, and the entire episode might serve as a prelude to the official, albeit long-expected, worsening of relations and maybe even potential sanctions.

The US is being careful to not make its moves appear “unprovoked”, hence why it sought to disguise its latest actions as being a “response” to something that Turkey did, because it doesn’t want to push Turkey any closer to the Multipolar World Order than it already has ever since the failed pro-American coup attempt last year saw Erdogan dramatically improve his ties with Russia, Iran, and even the SCO in response. That being said, what’s really happening here is that the US is punishing Turkey for precisely just that, as well as more recently for Erdogan’s remark the other day that “the West’s shadow” is behind all terrorist groups in the world, including the Gulenists, the PKK, and even Daesh.

Furthermore, the US thinks that it is unacceptable that Turkey, which is nominally a NATO member, decided to buy Russia’s S400 state-of-the-art anti-air missile system and is even militarily cooperating with Moscow in an anti-terrorist capacity in Syria, especially in the latest Idlib Operation to implement the “de-escalation zone” that was recently agreed to at the last Astana meeting. Another thing which has contributed to the US’ animosity against Turkey is the country’s vastly improved military relationship with Iran, particularly over the Kurdish issue in recent weeks but with the original breakthrough being made through the Moscow Declaration at the end of last year.

The most immediate implication of the American-Turkish “visa war” is that it will worsen the perception that each country’s people have of the other. Turks will see that this confirms what Erdogan has implied for over a year about how the US is the enemy of the Turkish people, while Americans will be manipulated via decontextualized Mainstream Media reporting into thinking that Erdogan is a rogue anti-American dictator whose country is in urgent need of a “democratic regime change”. Both of these interlinked outcomes will probably contribute to the forecasted deterioration of official relations which might take a multidimensional form in creating serious economic, political, and possibly even military fallout, the latter of which could see the US more openly commit to the Kurds and Gulenists.

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The Middle East Pivot: Erdoğan’s Turkey Seven “Deadly Sins”

NOVANEWS

Multiple wars ravage the Middle East. Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser.

Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has intervened and formed alliances with a rogue’s gallery of imperial warlords, terrorists-mercenaries, Zionist expansionists, feudal potentates and obscure tribal chiefs, with disastrous economic, political and military consequences for the Turkish nation.

In this paper we will discuss Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies and behavior over the past decade.  We will conclude with lessons for middle range powers, which might help in future decisions

President Erdogan’s Domestic Disasters

Throughout the early decade of the 21st century, Erdoğan made a strategic alliance with an influential semi-clandestine organization led by a cult-leading cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was conveniently self-exiled in the US and under the protection of the US intelligence apparatus. This marriage of convenience was formed in order to weaken the leftist, secular and Ataturk nationalist influenced opposition. Armed with the Gülenists’ treasure trove of forged documents, Erdoğan purged the military of its Ataturk nationalist leadership. He proceeded to marginalize the secular Republican Party and repressed leftist trade union, social movements and prominent academics, journalists, writers and student activists. With support from the Gülenists movement, ‘Hizmet’, Erdoğan celebrated his successes and won multiple election and re-election victories!

Initially, Erdoğan failed to recognize that the Gülenists/Hizmet operated as a subversive political organization, which permeated the state apparatus through a dense network of bureaucratic, military, judicial, police, and civil society organizations, with ties to the US military/CIA and friendly relations with Israeli policy makers.

By 2013, Erdoğan felt intense pressure from the Gülenists/Hizmet which sought to discredit and oust his regime by revealing multi-million dollar corrupt practices involving him and his family in a ‘Turquoise Color Revolution’ – remake of other ‘regime changes’.

Having discovered his internal vulnerability, Erdoğan moved to curtail the power and reach of the Gülenists/Hizmet controlled media. He was not yet prepared to deal with the immense scope and depth of the elite links to Gülenists/Hizmet. A Gülenists-led military coup was launched in July 2016, with the tacit support of the US military stationed in Turkey. This was foiled by a major popular mobilization with the support of  the armed forces.

Erdoğan then moved to thoroughly purge the followers of Hizmet from the military, public administration, schools, business, the press and public and private institutions. He extended his purge to include secular and nationalist political leaders who had always opposed the Gülenists and their attempted coup d’état.

As a result of the coup attempt and the subsequent purge, Erdoğan weakened and fractured every aspect of the state and civil society. Erdoğan ended up securing control of a weakened state with a degraded business, educational and cultural world.

The Gülenists coup was authored and led by its supremo Fethullah Gülen, ensconced in his ‘secret’ private estate in the United States. Clearly the US was implicated in the coup and they rejected Erdoğan’s demands to extradite him.

Erdoğan’s subservience to the US/NATO leadership have undermined his attempts to strike at the roots of the coup and its internal and external power structure. The US/NATO military bases still operate in Turkey and retain influence over its military.

In the aftermath of the coup, the decline of Gülenist influence in the economy contributed to economic reversals in investments and growth. The purge of the military and civil society reduced Turkey’s military preparedness and alienated the democratic electorate. Erdoğan had already nearly lost his bid to the presidency after his earlier purges in 2014.

Erdoğan’s Foreign Policy Disasters

Perversity is when a ruler weakens its military and represses its citizens and launches a series of risky foreign adventures: This is exactly what Erdoğan has done over the past several years.

First Erdoğan backed a terrorist uprising in Syria, providing arms, recruiting overseas ‘volunteers’ and providing them with unrestricted passage across the Turkish border. Many of the terrorists proceeded to join forces with Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds in establishing military bases on Ankara’s borders.

Secondly, Erdoğan ran a scurrilous electoral campaign among the millions of ethnic Turks living in Germany – violating that powerful nation’s sovereignty. As a result, Erdoğan increased tensions and animosity with what had been its closest ally in its quest for EU membership – effectively terminating the process.

Thirdly, Erdoğan backed NATO’s invasion and bombing of Libya, killing President Gadhafi, who had been an independent voice, capable of serving as a possible ally against imperial intervention in North Africa.

Fourthly, Erdoğan backed the brief government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood after its electoral victory in 2012 following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Egypt of 2011. He backed a formula similar to his own Turkish policy of excluding the secular, democratic opposition. This led to a bloody US-backed military coup led by General Abdel Sisi in July 2013 – a lesson not lost on Erdoğan.

Fifth, Erdoğan’s de facto friendly relations with Israel – despite verbal criticism – in the face of Tel Aviv’s assassination of nine non-violent Turkish protestors trying to break the starvation blockade of Gaza – undermined relations with the pro-Palestine Arab world and nationalists in Turkey.

Sixth, Erdoğan developed lucrative ties with Iraqi Kurd dictator-warlord, Masoud Barzani, facilitating the flow of oil to Israel. Erdoğan’s own illicit oil deals with Barzani strengthened the cause of Kurdish separatism and exposed the widespread corruption of Erdoğan’s family dealings.

Seventh, Erdoğan provoked military tensions with Russia by shooting down a warplane in Syria. This led to an economic boycott, which reduced export earnings, devastated the tourism sector and added Moscow to his list of adversaries, (Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, US, Germany, Hezbollah and Iran).

Eighth, Erdoğan backed the tiny oil-state of Qatar, sending supplies and soldiers to oppose a threat from Saudi Arabia, the other royal oil statelets and Egypt, US allies and followers.

Despite his many disastrous domestic and foreign policies, Erdoğan learned nothing and forgot nothing. When the Israelis backed the Iraqi Kurds in organizing an independence ‘referendum’ aiming to ultimately annex the rich oil fields of Northern Iraq, Erdoğan took no action despite this threat to Turkish national security. He merely made verbal threats to cut off the Kurd’s access to Ankara’s oil pipelines. He took no concrete steps. Erdogan preferred to pocket transit taxes from the oil, antagonizing Iraq and Syria and strengthening the links between Kurdish Iraq and its secessionist counterparts in Syria and Turkey.

Because of Erdoğan failure to close down the US military base following its support of the Gülenist-led coup, the Turkish army is still heavily under  US influence, opening the possibility of another uprising.

Erdoğan’s lip-service to ‘nationalism’ has served mainly as a political tool to repress domestic democratic political parties and trade unions and the Kurdish and Alevi communities.

Erdoğan’s initial support and subsequent opposition to the jihadi terrorist groups seeking to oust the secular-nationalist government in Damascus has caused ‘blowback’ – with ISIS terrorist cells bombing civilian targets Istanbul and Ankara with mass casualties.

Conclusion

Erdoğan’s unprincipled, opportunistic and pro-imperialist NATO alliance demonstrates the inability of an aspiring regional power to find a niche in the US Empire.

Erdoğan believed that being a loyal ‘ally’ of the US would protect Turkey from a coup d’état. He failed to realize that he had become a disposable pawn in US plans to instill more servile rulers (like the Gülenist) in the Middle East.

Erdoğan’s belief that Turkey’s collaboration with the US to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Assadwould lead to a successful territorial grab of Northern Syria: instead Erdoğan ended up serving the US-backed Syrian Kurds tied to the Turkish Kurds. By working to break up Syria and destroy its state and government, Erdoğan strengthened Kurdish cross border expansionism.

Erdoğan failed to recognize the most basic rule of imperial policy: There are no permanent allies there are only permanent interests. Erdoğan thought Turkey would be ‘rewarded’ by acting as a US surrogate with a share of power, wealth and territory in the Middle East. Instead, as a ‘normal’ imperial power, the US used Turkey when it was convenient and would then dispose of Erdoğan – like a used condom.

Anti-imperialism is not just an ideal and moral/ethical principle – it is a realistic approach to safeguarding sovereignty, democratic politics and meaningful alliances.

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Turkish Military Intervention in Northwestern Syria. Troops and Vehicles Enter Idlib ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

Late on October 12, the Turkish Army started deploying troops and vehicles in Syria’s Idlib province. According to reports, at least 30 Turkish vehicles entered Idlib via the Atme border crossing and deployed in an area between it and Darat Izza town.

Some sources speculated that the deployment was coordinated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) that is the most powerful group in the militant-held Idlib province. However, this has not been confirmed by any evidence so far.

It’s interesting that the area of deployment allows Turkish forces to operate against both radicals Islamists in Idlib province and Kurdish militias in northern Aleppo.

Earlier, Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli once again repeated that Ankara believes that weapons supplied to Kurdish-dominated US-backed forces in Syria will be used against Turkey.

In Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated Kusham Fawqani village and consolidated its gains north of Deir Ezzor. This allows to develop operations further in order to liberate Deir Ezzor city.

At the same time, government forces, led by the SAA Tiger Forces, further outflanked al-Maydin city and de-facto encircled it, according to pro-government sources. Clashes are ongoing in the urban area.

ISIS terrorists attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at the Jafrah oil fields and forces the SDF to retreat from the area, according to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq. The SDF has not shown any photos or videos that allow to debunk Amaq’s claims.

Meanwhile, the SDF has reportedly captured the villages of Hasf Tall, Ghayran, Jarbus, Tabaraya and Husayn at the al-Suwar road preparing to push towards al-Busariyah.

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