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MIDEAST >Turkey entered Syria to end al-Assad’s rule: President Erdoğan

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The Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 29.

“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the president said.

On Aug. 24, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation in Syria, the Euphrates Shield operation, with FSA fighters to clear the country’s southern border of both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Last week, a total of six Turkish troops, of them four in a suspected Syrian government attack, and two in ISIL attacks, were killed in three separate attacks from Nov. 24 to 26. 

Turkish jets kill 11 ISIL militants 


As part of the ongoing operation, Turkish Air Forces killed 11 ISIL militants in air strikes carried out on four shelters used by the jihadists and two armored vehicles in northern Syria on Nov. 28, the military announced on Nov. 29. 

The air strikes targeted the Baratah, Dana and Zarzur regions as part of the Euphrates Shield operation. It said two ISIL vehicles were also targeted by armed drones in the region.

Erdoğan also said the U.N. could not provide justice with its current structure, suggesting that all continents and all belief groups around the world should be represented at the Security Council apart from the five permanent members. The president has constantly voiced his criticism on the structure of the Security Council, saying “the world is bigger than five,” referring to the number of permanent members.

As Turkey’s operation inside Syria continues, an offensive by the Syrian government with the help of its allies on the besieged parts of eastern Aleppo continued on Nov. 29, pushing rebels to pull back to a more defensible front line after losing control of a key district. 

16,000 people displaced in Aleppo, says UN

The United Nations humanitarian chief and relief coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said on Nov. 29 that up to 16,000 people had been displaced in Aleppo by intense attacks on the rebel-held eastern part of the city, Reuters reported. 

The area had no functioning hospitals left, food stocks were nearly exhausted and it was likely that thousands more people would flee their homes if fighting persisted in the coming days, he said in an emailed statement. 
“The situation is very bad. There’s intense fear of collective annihilation,” said a medic who lives in the area and gave his name as Abu al-Abbas. 

“This week I’ve changed locations three times,” he added, speaking on Nov. 28 using a social networking site. “In the shelter, we had dead people who we couldn’t take out because the bombardment was so intense.”
Russia, on the other hand, said on Nov. 29 that the Syrian army’s breakthrough in Aleppo had dramatically altered the situation on the ground, allowing more than 80,000 civilians to access humanitarian aid after years of being used by militants as human shields. 

“During the last 24 hours, thanks to very well-prepared and careful actions, Syrian soldiers were able to radically change the situation,” Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, said in a statement. 

“Practically half of the territory occupied by rebels in recent years in the eastern part of Aleppo has been completely liberated.” 

10 people killed in Syrian strikes on Aleppo: Monitor

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said air strikes on the Bab al-Nairab in Aleppo killed at least 10 people on Nov. 29, and left dozens more wounded or missing. 

The Observatory said air strikes, including barrel bomb drops, hit several eastern Aleppo districts overnight and into Nov. 29.

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Nov. 29 that he could not say how long the eastern part of Aleppo would last as fighting was still intensifying there. 

“Clearly, I cannot deny – this is a military acceleration and I can’t tell you how long eastern Aleppo will last,” he told the European Parliament, referring to the rebel-held districts that Syrian government forces and their allies are storming. “There is a constant increase of movement on the military side.”

De Mistura also sought to dispel concerns that the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could strike a deal with Russia over Syria, saying he would welcome it if Washington increased its fighting against ISIL. 

“Based on those statements, we have an idea that he intends to give total, top priority to fighting Daesh [ISIL]. I don’t think anyone around... will disagree with that, including me,” de Mistura said, referring to Trump’s remarks during his presidential campaign where he said he would bomb the militant group heavily. “You could and you should fight together with Russia [against] Daesh because everybody is threatened by them.”

November/29/2016

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