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Timeline of the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria

This is a timeline of 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria covering the details of the conflict. Following the breakdown of Northern Syria Buffer Zone into war between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Syrian Arab Army (SAA) fighting the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Turkish backed Syrian National Army (SNA).

Ras al-Ayn bombing on 10 October 2019.

9 October 2019Edit

The operation[n 1] began on 9 October 2019, with Turkish airstrikes and howitzers targeting the SDF-held towns of Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn where thousands of people were reported to have fled the town,[2] Ayn Issa and Qamishli. The start of the incursion was symbolic, as it was the 21st anniversary of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's expulsion from Syria in 1998 by the government of Hafez al-Assad.[3][4][5][6][7]

In response to the cross-border shelling, SDF's spokesman stated that Turkey was targeting civilians.[8] Six rockets were later launched at the Turkish city of Nusaybin as a response by the YPG, and two reportedly hit the Turkish town Ceylanpınar.[9][10][11] The SDF also announced in response to the start of the Turkish operation they would be halting anti-ISIL operations,[12] and that two civilians had been killed.[13] In response to the airstrikes, the SDF has called upon the United States to establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria.[14]

During the day, under pressure from Congressmen and public opinion, Trump sent a letter to Erdoğan proposing to make a deal, otherwise he would destroy the Turkish economy. Erdoğan took offense to the letter, reportedly throwing it in the trash.[15] The White House released the letter to the press on 16 October, receiving wide ridicule.[16][17]

Ground offensiveEdit

By the end of the day, the Turkish military announced that the ground phase of the operation had begun from three points including Tell Abyad.[18]

Post-ceasefireEdit

Diplomatic relationsEdit

In a press statement addressed to the SDF, the Syrian Defense Ministry announced that they will accept any unit who is willing to join the Syrian military in a joint effort to battle invading Turkish troops and the Turkish-supported Syrian rebels, and offers reconciliation to those not needed for security.[19] The Syrian Interior Ministry offered civil services across the northeast, as they described the difficult living conditions due to the Turkish-led incursion.[19] They also offered to integrate the Asayesh security forces of the SDF into the government's internal security agency.[19] The Syrian Education Ministry offered to support the children, as they described that children are deprived of schooling due to the unrest.[19]

In response, the SDF said that they appreciate the efforts to unify Syria's defense and repel the Turkish aggression but that "Our position was clear from the beginning, wherein uniting the ranks should begin from a political settlement that recognizes and preserves the exclusivity of the SDF and its structure, and creates a sound mechanism for restructuring the Syrian military establishment as an overarching framework for unifying efforts."[19]

Situation around the safe zoneEdit

On 31 October, the Turkish President Erdogan announces that the joint Turkish-Russian patrols in northeast Syria will begin on Friday.[20] On 1 November 2019, Turkish and Russian forces started joint patrol.[21]

There have been intermittent clashes between Syrian government troops and Turkish-backed forces around Ras al-Ain and Tal Tamr.[20] Turkey has returned 18 Syrian government soldiers who were captured by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters south of Ras al-Ayn amidst growing tensions between Syria and Turkey. The Turkish Defense Ministry announced the handover on 1 November.[22]

31 October 2019Edit

The YPJ claimed that SNA attempted to reach the M4 Highway.[23]

SNA shelled the village of Tal-al ward resulting in the deaths of 2 civilians and injuring an additional 5.[24] Small skirmishes occurred in the western side of Tal Al-ward between forces of the SAA, SDF and SNA.[25][26]

Turkish jets targeted a convoy carrying journalists heading from Cizire to Ras al-Ayn, 14 people are reported to have been killed and 76 injured.[27] Regime forces arrived at Tell Tamer from Hasaka along with heavy equipment to reinforce the joint SDF-SAA front.[28] Later regime forces withdrew from the villages of Temir, Zirgan and Dirbesiye following bombardment from SNA.[29]

US reinforcements arrived at Sarin Base including 17 armored vehicles and 82 trucks.[30]

The SDF began a counter-offensive around Tall Tamr.[31]

2019 Tell Abyad bombing: On November 2, a car bomb attack killed at least 13 civilians in Tell Abyad, 2 weeks after its capture from SDF. Turkey and SNA accuse the SDF as responsible for the attack.[32][33] The SDF responded in a press statement stating: "We believe this is the work of the Turkish state and their intelligence and mercenaries to frighten and terrorize the local people"[34]

10 October 2019Edit

 
Protest against Turkey's military offensive on 10 October 2019

Before dawn on the morning of 10 October 2019, the Turkish military officially began the ground offensive against the SDF; they also announced they had hit 181 targets in northern Syria, and 14,000 rebels backed by Turkey, including Ahrar al-Sharqiya rebel group,[35][36] Sultan Murad Division, and Hamza Division, are also taking part in the Turkish-led offensive.[35] According to a research paper published this October by the pro-government Turkish think tank SETA, "Out of the 28 factions [in the Syrian National Army], 21 were previously supported by the United States, three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA via the MOM Operations Room in Turkey, a joint intelligence operation room of the ‘Friends of Syria’ to support the armed opposition. Fourteen factions of the 28 were also recipients of the U.S.-supplied TOW anti-tank guided missiles."[37][38]

The SDF said they repelled a Turkish advance into Tell Abyad.[3] Later during the day, clashes reportedly broke out between the SDF and Turkish-aligned forces near al-Bab.[39] Turkish-led forces made advances around the area of Tell Abyad and captured the villages of Tabatin and Al-Mushrifah.[40][dubious ] By nightfall Turkish Armed Forces declared control of 11 villages. As fighting went on around Tell Abyad, the Syrian National Army announced it captured the villages of Mishrifah, Al-Hawi, Barzan, Haj Ali and a farm east of the city.[41][dubious ][unreliable source?] During Turkish air strikes during the fighting, SDF stated that the Turkish air force hit a prison that was holding captured ISIL fighters.[42][43] Turkish media reported in the late evening that 174 SDF fighters were killed, wounded or captured.[44]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that day that 109 SDF fighters had been killed in the operation as well as an unspecified number of fighters wounded and captured. In a speech to lawmakers from Erdoğan's AKP, the Turkish president also threatened to flood Europe with 3.6 million refugees if European nations continued to criticize the military operation, in particular if they labelled it an invasion.[45][46]

70,000 people have fled from border towns in the SDF following Turkish bombardment.[47][48]

According to Turkey's Ministry of National Defence, one Turkish soldier was killed by the YPG.[49]

11 October 2019Edit

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Senior Department of defense officials brief Pentagon reporters, 11 October 2019.
Joint press conference by NATO Secretary General and Turkish minister of foreign affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, 11 October 2019.

Two journalists were wounded in Nusaybin, when the building they were filming from came under fire from Qamishli across the border by SDF fighters. The incident was broadcast live on Turkish TV channels, according to Turkish sources.[50]

Three civilians were killed in Suruc by SDF shelling.[51][52] In response to the attack, Turkey shelled YPG positions in Kobani, across the border from Suruç.[53] Eight more civilians were killed later in the day in Nusaybin and 35 were injured by SDF mortar attack, raising the total civilians killed by SDF shelling in Turkey to 18, according to Turkish sources.[54][55][56]

Seven civilians were killed in Syria by Turkish forces in the Tal Abyad area including three killed by Turkish snipers according to SOHR.[57]

As reported on this day, according to the Turkish Ministry of National Defence, a total of 399 SDF fighters were killed, captured or wounded since the start of the Turkish military operation.[58]

The Syrian National Army stated to have taken the village of Halawa which is southeast of Tell Abyad.[59] TAF and SNA announced the capture of Tell Halaf later in the day and released a video from inside the town.[60]

In the city of Qamishli, a suspected ISIL car bomb killed five civilians, while a reported Turkish artillery strike hit a nearby prison, and five suspected ISIL members, previously detained in SDF custody, escaped according to SDF.[61]

In the city of Kobanî, the area immediately around a U.S. special forces base experienced heavy shelling by Turkish artillery; the U.S. troops did not retaliate, but withdrew after the shelling ended. Turkey responded by denying that it targeted the U.S. base, instead stating that it had fired upon SDF positions.[62] The Pentagon further raised concerns that the Turkish Army deliberately "bracketed" US Forces stationed in Kobanî with artillery fire.[63] According to Turkish Defense Minister, the mortar attack targeting the town of Suruç earlier in the day was deliberately launched 1000 meters from the US base in Kobanî by SDF to avoid Turkish retaliation and the attack was in response.[64]

On the same day, Jaysh al-Islam announced it would be joining the offensive on the side of Turkey from their bases in areas in Afrin and Northern Aleppo.[65]

The BBC reported that 100,000 people have fled their homes in northern Syria. The Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor) said there had been 11 confirmed civilian deaths so far. Turkey's military confirmed a soldier's death, and said three others had been wounded.[66]

 
Smoke rises after Turkish airstrikes on the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn on 11 October

Turkey's Ministry of National Defence announced that three more soldiers had been killed by the YPG, two of which were killed in a mortar attack on a Turkish military base in a Turkish-occupied part of Syria. This brought the total amount of Turkish soldiers killed in the operation to four.[49] The SOHR reported that the actual number of Turkish soldiers killed in the operation was six.[67] Later in the day, the SOHR reported that at least 12 Turkish border guards were either killed or wounded in a confrontation with the SDF in Kobanî.[68]

On this day, the Iranian-Kurdish grammy winning artist Kayhan Kalhor canceled his Istanbul concert to protest the Turkish offensive.[69][70][71] He announced the cancelation in a concert in Royal Albert Hall. He finished the concert with a Kurdish lullaby that was devoted to Kurdish children.[70][71]

12 October 2019Edit

Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army said they reached the M4 highway, 32 km (20 mi) deep into Syrian territory and effectively cutting the supply line between Manbij and Qamishli.[72] SNA also said they captured 18 villages close to M4 highway in eastern Raqqah.[73]

Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu announced that nearly 300 mortar shells had been fired at Mardin Province by the SDF since the start of the operation.[74]

Around 12:00 (UTC+03:00), the TAF and SNA stated they had captured Ras al-Ayn,[75][76] but the SDF denied that Turkey had taken control of the city.[77][78]

Turkish-backed members of Islamist militia Ahrar al-Sharqiya executed Hevrin Khalaf, Secretary General of the Future Syria Party. Nine civilians, including Khalaf, were executed by the Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters at a roadblock on the M4 highway south of Tal Abyad.[79][80] Turkish news source Yeni Safak reported that Khalaf was "neutralized" in a "successful operation" against a politician affiliated with a "terrorist" organization.[79][81] Her execution was widely described by Western sources as a war crime under international law.[82][83] A spokesman for Ahrar al-Sharqiya meanwhile announced that she was killed for being "an agent for U.S. intelligence."[84]

A Belincat video solidly traces the killings to rebels backed by Turkey Ahrar al-Sharqiya.[85]

13 October 2019Edit

Video from Voice of America Turkish service shows a residential building hit by a mortar shell in the southeastern Turkish city of Akcakale, near the Syria–Turkey border, 13 October

Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army announced the capture of the town of Suluk, located in Tell Abyad District, in the early morning.[86] The SOHR confirmed that the Turkish forces and SNA had taken full control of Suluk, and clashes were nearing towards Ayn Issa. The SOHR also reported that pro-Turkish forces had targeted an ambulance in the Tell Abyad area which remains missing.[87][88]

The SOHR also reported that the SDF was able to regain almost all control over the contested city of Ras al-Ayn after a counterattack.[89]

Tall Abyad captured and M4 highway cut by Turkey and SNAEdit

Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army announced in the afternoon they had captured the center of Tell Abyad.[90] Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army fully captured Tall Abyad late in the afternoon according to the SOHR.[91][92] Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army also cut the M4 highway according to SOHR.[91][93] Turkish sources also reported that SDF shelling towards Jarablus had killed 2 Syrian civilians.[94]

In light of the pro-Turkish forces advance on Ayn Issa, the SDF stated that 785 ISIL-linked people had escaped from a detention camp in the area, SDF also stated the escapees received assistance of the pro-Turkish forces and Turkish airstrikes.[95] In contrast, Turkey stated that the SDF released ISIL prisoners at the Tell Abyad prison before the arrival of Turkish forces.[96] This statement[which?] was supported by U.S. President Donald Trump, but opposed by senior U.S. officials who stated that Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces were the ones freeing ISIL prisoners.[97][98]

United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that US was planning to evacuate all 1,000 remaining soldiers from northern Syria.[99] US also informed SDF of its intention to withdraw from military bases in Manbij and Kobanî and had already evacuated from Ayn Issa according to SOHR and the Washington Post.[100]

Syrian government–SDF dealEdit

Shortly after the capture of Tall Abyad by Turkey and SNA, a deal between the Syrian government and SDF was reached whereby the Syrian Army would be allowed to enter the towns of Kobanî and Manbij in order to deter a possible Turkish military offensive in those areas.[101]

Later an advisor to leader of AKP Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Yasin Aktay, said there could be conflict between the two armies, if the Syrian government tries to enter northeastern Syria.[102]

SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Abdi said he was willing to ally with the Syrian government for the sake of saving the Kurdish population in Northern Syria from what he called a genocide.[103]

14 October 2019Edit

Russian and Syrian forces were reported to have been deployed at the front line between areas controlled by the Manbij Military Council and Euphrates Shield groups respectively, with further deployments to take place along the Syrian-Turkish border. In addition, the SOHR reported that the U.S. forces in the region were attempting to hinder the Russian and Syrian deployments in the region.[104]

The SOHR reported that violent clashes had continued in Ras Al-Ayn and its countryside at the border strip, where the Turkish forces were attempting to encircle the city completely and to cut off the road between Ras Al-Ayn and Tal Tamr, under a cover of artillery shelling and airstrikes with the purpose of taking control of the city by 15 October.[105][106][107] Turkish aerial and ground bombardment were reported to have occurred in the border town Al-Darbasiyyah targeting civilian houses which caused 4 reported injuries of medical personnel as per the SOHR.[108]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a press conference that Turkey had received a positive response from Russia on Kobani and that Turkey was at the execution phase of its Manbij decision.[109] Turkish Armed forces deployed additional troops to Manbij frontline as of the previous night according to Turkish sources.[110] Turkish Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar said that Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn were under Turkish control and that works were ongoing for the whole region.[111]

The Syrian Army reportedly deployed to the town of Al-Thawrah,[112] as well as Ayn Issa, Tell Tamer and as close as 6 km from the Syria–Turkey border.[113][114][115] It also took over the 93rd Brigade Headquarters just south of Ayn Issa, as well as Al-Jarniyah to the east of the Euphrates.[116][117] The Syrian Army further reported taking control of the Tabqa Dam. The Syrian flag was reportedly raised for the first time in years in several towns and villages in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, such as the city of Al-Yaarubiyah.[118][119]

Jarabulus Military Council was reportedly to have targeted a vehicle south of Jarabulus by a guided missile leaving 2 persons dead in conjunction with an assassination that targeted members of Turkey-loyal factions south of Azaz.[120]

Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army launched a military operation to capture Manbij in the late afternoon.[121] Turkish Armed Forces and Syrian National Army captured 3 villages in the Manbij countryside shortly after the launch of the operation according to Turkish sources.[122] At the same time, Syrian state media stated that the Syrian Army had started entering the town.[123]

Anouncement of total U.S. withdrawal from northeastern SyriaEdit

Later in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that all U.S. personnel would withdraw from Syria except those in Al-Tanf base.[124]

15 October 2019Edit

The SOHR reported that a counterattack was carried out by the SDF in the outskirts and western countryside of Ras al-Ayn city, and managed to achieve an advancement in the area recovering 3 areas lost previously.[125]

2 civilians were killed and 12 were wounded in Kızıltepe, Turkey after an SDF mortar attack according to Turkish sources.[126]

Turkish President Erdoğan, speaking at the Turkic Council in Baku, said: "We are now announcing the establishment of a safe area 444km from west to east and 32km from north to south, to which the refugees in our country will return."[127] President Erdoğan also said a total of 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi) had been captured by TAF and SNA since the start of the operation.[128] President Erdoğan also said a Turkish soldier was killed in Manbij by Syrian Army artillery fire and that there was an intense retaliatory fire for the attack which made the regime pay a heavy price.[129]

Syrian Army forces started entering the town of Manbij according to SOHR,[130] but were blocked by US troops when trying to enter Kobani according to SOHR, which resulted in the convoy's return to Manbij.[131] Syrian Army forces also entered Al-Thawrah according to Syrian government media.[132] Later, Erdoğan told that Syrian Government troops entering Manbij is "not negative" and adding "as long as terrorists in the area are cleaned".[133]

16 October 2019Edit

Villages around the M4 in Jazira province were reportedly shelled by the TAF at dawn while shelling and clashes had caused power outages and a water shortage in the city of Al-Hasakah, the latter of which returned after 5 days since it had been cut off, as per a SOHR report.[134] The SOHR also reported that clashes continued to the west of Ayn Issa as the SDF attempted to launch a counterattack where they were able to successfully regain 2 locations.[135][136] Clashes had also broken out within the SDF-controlled camp in Ayn Issa between families of ISIL members and displaced civilians which resulted in 2 deaths, as per the SOHR report.[136]

Heavy shelling and airstrikes by the TAF were reported in Ras al-Ayn with heavy fighting on the ground according to SOHR.[137] The SOHR further reported that Turkish forces and allied factions had launched a wide scale offensive and managed to advance into parts of the Ras al-Ayn city.[138] Turkish President Erdoğan announced that Turkey controlled over 1200 square kilometers area since start of the operation.[139]

The Russian military deployed near Kobani on 16 October in the afternoon after crossing Qara Cossack bridge from Manbij to the east of Euphrates according to SOHR.[140] The SOHR also reported that the Syrian Army had completed its deployment in Ayn Issa, north of Raqqa.[136] The Syrian Army also reportedly entered the city of Kobanî at nightfall.[141] This was precipitated by the sudden advance of the Turkish-backed proxy forces towards the Kurdish-held border city.[142]

U.S. withdraws from and destroys northern Syria headquartersEdit

U.S. forces, after withdrawing from their air base near Kharab Ashk south of Kobanî, bombed and destroyed it with airstrikes on the morning of 16 October.[143] The airbase was the largest U.S. base in Syria, capable of landing C-130 as well as C-17 heavy transport planes.[144] OIR spokesman announced later in the day that U.S. forces had withdrawn from the Lafarge base reportedly destroyed earlier in the day, as well as from Raqqa and Al-Thawrah.[145] OIR spokesman also confirmed the destruction of the base later in the day saying "On Oct. 16, after all Coalition personnel and essential tactical equipment departed, two Coalition F-15Es successfully conducted a pre-planned precision airstrike at the Lafarge Cement Factory to destroy an ammunition cache and reduce the facility’s military usefulness."[146]

17 October 2019Edit

TAF and SNA forces completely besieged and captured half of Ras al-Ayn after getting around the town and cutting off the roads leading to it amid heavy clashes according to SOHR.[147]

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu stated that over 980 mortar shells and rockets were launched at Turkey by SDF since the start of the operation killing 20 civilians.[148]

120-hour ceasefireEdit

 
Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a joint press conference in Ankara on 17 October 2019

On 17 October 2019, US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reached a deal to implement a 120-hour cease-fire for Turkey's operation in northern Syria to allow SDF to withdraw from a designated safe zone,[149][150][151][152] spanning from the Turkey-Syria border to 20 miles (32 km) south.[152] Mike Pence stated that once the military operation completely stops all sanctions imposed on Turkey by the United States would be lifted and there would be no further sanctions.[150] According to a US statement, the safe zone would be "primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces".[153] This ceasefire deal was described as another US betrayal of the Kurds[154][155][156] and a Kurdish surrender to Turkey[154][156][157] by several US commentators and officials.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that it is not a ceasefire but a temporary pause to allow SDF to withdraw from the designated safe zone, after which if completed the operation would end and if not completed the operation would continue.[158][159] The SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said that they accepted the ceasefire agreement only in the area between Tall Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.[151]

The Syrian Kurdish politician Salih Muslim stated that "Our people did not want this war. We welcome the ceasefire, but we will defend ourselves in the event of any attack … Ceasefire is one thing and surrender is another thing, and we are ready to defend ourselves. We will not accept the occupation of northern Syria."[153]

During the ceasefireEdit

18 October 2019Edit

Cautious calm prevailed at the east of Euphrates on 18 October according to SOHR with minor clashes in besieged Ras al-Ayn.[160] The SDF said Turkey was violating the ceasefire and of shelling civilian areas of Ras al-Ayn.[161] An unnamed US official said the following day that Turkish backed forces had violated the ceasefire, and the SDF had stopped fighting.[162]

Turkey announced it aimed to establish 12 "observation posts" in its safe zone, with President Erdoğan stating that Turkey will respond if the Syrian government "makes a mistake".[163]

19 October 2019Edit

 
SDF-controlled territory (green) and Turkish-controlled territory (red) in October 2019

SDF had not withdrawn from any positions east of Euphrates despite the passage of 37 hours of the US-Turkish agreement to suspend the Turkish military operation for 120 hours according to SOHR. SOHR also reported that since the start of the operation, Turkish Armed Forces and allies had captured an area of 2,419 square kilometres (934 sq mi).[164] Both sides said the other side was violating the ceasefire, SDF stated that Turkish forces prevented medical aid from reaching Ras al-Ain, the statement was backed by SOHR.[165] Unnamed US officials[who?] said the "ceasefire is not holding". In the afternoon the SDF said an aid convoy had been let through, after having been prevented from entering the town since Thursday.[162]

20 October 2019Edit

SDF withdraws from Ras al-AynEdit

A Turkish soldier was killed by a mortar attack near Tal Abyad due to violations of YPG according to Turkish Defense Ministry,[166] whilst the SDF stated that 16 fighters had been killed by Turkish forces.[167] SDF fully withdrew from Ras al-Ayn alongside the aid convoy per SOHR.[168][169] Both sides have stated that the other side made ceasefire violations.[167]

Continued U.S. drawdownEdit

US forces withdrew from their airbase near Sarrin as well as their airbase near Tell Beydar and destroyed it per SOHR.[170][171] US forces have completely withdrew from the countrysides of Aleppo and Raqqa per SDC.[172] In the largest ground move to date, a United States convoy of almost 500 personnel is moving eastward through northern Syria towards the border of Iraq.[173] As they withdrew, locals threw rotten produce and shouted insults at them, demonstrating a sense of betrayal among the populace.[174][175]

U.S. President Donald Trump favored leaving a contingent of 200-300 US troops in Deir ez-Zur countryside of eastern Syria where majority of the country's oil fields are located per NYT and WSJ.[176][177] The SDF, however, stated that "The fields have stayed in our hands. We have an agreement with the [Syrian] regime to give them some of our positions along the Turkish border, but we have not negotiated with them on the oil fields yet. There will probably be a version of joint control and revenue sharing with the regime from these fields. I don’t know if Trump understands this."[178]

21 October 2019Edit

The SOHR reported continued ceasefire violations despite the withdrawal of the SDF from Ras al-Ayn. Per SOHR, Turkish drone strikes had targeted a vehicle carrying 4 members of the SDF near Ain Issa, resulting in the death of all fighters. The Abu Rasin area, east of Ras al-Ayn also experienced heavy clashes and shelling by Turkey as per SOHR.[179]

On the aftermath of the SDF withdrawal from the Ras al-Ayn, there were widespread accounts of looting, theft, burning of houses and kidnappings by the pro-Turkish forces with documented examples of members of the Hamza Division per to the SOHR.[179]

The SOHR reported a US withdrawal from northern Syria with a military convoy passing through Simalka border into Iraq at midnight.[179]

22 October 2019Edit

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated that Russia would need to deploy additional troops and equipment to Syria to patrol the border.[180] As the deadline of the US-brokered 120-hour ceasefire agreement was nearing, Shoigu further stated that the US had less than two hours to comply with the agreement (i.e., removing the sanctions against Turkey) and suggested that the US forces had until the end of the 120-hour period to withdraw from Syria.[180]

According to Syrian state news channel Al-Ekhbaria, Syrian President Assad has told Russian President Putin that his government rejects the occupation of Syria's lands under any pretext in a phone call today.[181] In a reference to the SDF during his visit to the war zone near Al-Habeet in Idlib, the Syrian President Assad stated that "We said we are ready to support any group that takes up popular resistance against Erdogan and Turkey. This is not a political decision, we have not made a political decision, this is a constitutional duty and this is a national duty. If we don't do this, we don't deserve the homeland."[182]

U.S. senator Mitch McConnell introduced a resolution in opposition to President Trump's withdrawal from Syria.[183]

Jim Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria and the global coalition against ISIL, said that he was not consulted or advised in advance about the withdrawal of the US from Syria.[184]

Russian–Turkish memorandumEdit

On 22 October 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met in Sochi and reached an agreement about the situation in Syria.[185][186] They subsequently released a 10-point memorandum detailing the provisions of the agreement.[187][188]

In the agreement, the established status quo of the Operation Peace Spring area, covering Tell Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 kilometers from the border, will be maintained.[187][188] Starting from 12.00 noon on 23 October, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian border territory outside the Operation Peace Spring area to facilitate the removal of the YPG in the area with a depth of 30 kilometers from the border, which should be finalized within 150 hours.[187][188] Hereafter, joint Russian–Turkish patrols will start to the west and east of the Operation Peace Spring area to a depth of 10 kilometers from the border, excluding Qamishli city.[187][188] The YPG will be removed from both Manbij and Tal Rifat.[187][188]

Russian President Putin informed Syrian President Assad about the provisions of the deal in a phone call.[185] The Russian government announced that Assad voiced his support for the agreement and was ready to deploy the Syrian border guards in line with the agreement.[185]

23 October 2019Edit

President Trump announced that there was a 'permanent' ceasefire in the region and sanctions on Turkey would therefore be lifted, but he also added that the word 'permanent' is questionable for that part of the world.[189][190] US lawmakers publicly criticized Trump's decision to lift the sanctions.[191]

Dmitry Peskov, the Russian presidential press secretary, urged the Kurdish forces to withdraw from Syria's border namely because the Syrian border guards and Russian military police would have to step back otherwise, adding that the remaining Kurdish units would be 'steamrolled' by the Turkish military, and stated that the United States had both betrayed and abandoned them despite being their closest ally in recent years.[192][193]

As Newsweek first reported, it's stated that the United States is considering and preparing to deploy tanks and troops to defend the oil in eastern Syria.[194][195][196] Even though the stated purpose is preventing ISIL from regaining the oil fields, it is likely as much an effort to block Syria and Russia.[195][196][197][198]

24 October 2019Edit

Syria's state news agency SANA reported that Turkish troops and allied fighters attacked Syrian army positions outside Tal Tamr, resulting in several Syrian causalities as they fought back, and clashed with Kurdish-led fighters.[199] The SOHR also confirmed clashes between the SDF and the Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces near Tal Tamr.[200] The Kurdish-led SDF said that three of its troops were killed during the fighting with the Turkish-backed forces.[199]

Russia carried out several airstrikes in the Syrian rebel-held territory, targeting the Idlib, Hama, and Latakia provinces[201] among comments by analysts that Idlib, the remaining Turkey-supported rebel stronghold, was the Syrian government's next target.[202]

During the NATO meeting, Germany's Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had presented a proposal for an internationally monitored security zone in northeast Syria to be mandated by the United Nations.[203] The following day, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the idea of a NATO-controlled security zone in Syria.[204] On 26 October, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also rejected the German plan for an international security zone and said that the proposal was not realistic.[205][206]

25 October 2019Edit

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States would send their troops, including 'mechanized' forces, to defend the oil in eastern Syria to keep it from ISIL.[207][208][209] It is unclear whether the Kurds would welcome the Americans again in the aftermath of the US withdrawal, as Syrian Kurdish leader Ilham Ahmed commented earlier on 24 October that "If the U.S. presence in the area is not going to benefit us when it comes to stability, security, and [stopping] the genocide and ethnic cleansing, they won’t be welcomed."[210]

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that around 300 Russian military police have arrived in Syria.[211] The military police, from the Russian region of Chechnya, will patrol the border region and help with the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from the border region.[211]

26 October 2019Edit

The Turkish President Erdogan said that "If this area is not cleared from terrorists at the end of the 150 hours, then we will handle the situation by ourselves and will do all the cleansing work."[212][206] The Turkish president also criticized the European Union of lying to provide the 6 billion euros to help house and feed around 3.6 million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey, while stating that the EU only provided half of the promised amount and adding that Turkey has spent around 40 billion euros.[212] He warned that Turkey will open its border for the refugees to go to Europe if European countries failed to provide more financial support for the return of the refugees to Syria.[212]

A U.S. military convoy drove south of Qamishli heading towards the oil fields in Deir el-Zour.[213][214] The SOHR also reported the convoy when it earlier arrived from Iraq.[213] Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, characterized the US actions to send armored vehicles and combat troops to protect the oil in eastern Syria as 'banditry'.[213] The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Syria, with the Russian side emphasizing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria according to the Russian public statement.[213]

A large convoy of Syrian government troops was deployed to eight villages at the Ras al-Ayn area along the M4 highway and close to the Syrian–Turkish border.[213][215]

Casualties were reported after clashes in Tal Tamr and Ras al-Ayn, nine dead among the pro-Turkish forces and six dead among the SDF.[216][217]

27 October 2019Edit

The SDF released a statement saying: "The SDF is redeploying to new positions away from the Turkish-Syrian border across northeast Syria in accordance with the terms of the agreement in order to stop the bloodshed and to protect the inhabitants of the region from Turkish attacks."[218][219]

29 October 2019Edit

The SOHR reported reoccurring clashes between joint Syrian–SDF forces and Turkish-led forces in the area between Tal Tamr and Ras al-Ayn.[220] During the clashes along the border, Turkish forces reportedly killed 6 Syrian soldiers near Ras al-Ayn.[221] Meantime, Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that they have captured 18 persons who stated to be Syrian government forces.[222]

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the Kurdish-led armed forces had withdrawn from the safe zone along the Syria–Turkey border.[223]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Codenamed "Operation Peace Spring", this designation was considered Orwellian "even by modern military standards" by Peter W. Galbraith.[1]

ReferencesEdit

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