TSI Syria Updates: August 24, 2016

Takeaway

Operation “Euphrates Shield” began this morning when Syrian rebels, Turkish special forces, tanks, and jets entered Syria to take Jarabulus from the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey openly stated this operation is combating both US-backed Kurdish forces and ISIS. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said “At 4:00 (0100 GMT) this morning, an operation started in northern Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country, like Daesh [ISIS] and the PYD.”  Turkish troops have entered Jarablus and have full control of the city. ISIS fighters fled with little resistance.

Military

  • 24 August 2016: Operation “Euphrates Shield” began this morning when Syrian rebels, Turkish special forces, tanks, and jets entered Syria to take Jarabulus from the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey openly stated this operation is combatting both US-backed Kurdish forces and ISIS. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said “At 4:00 (0100 GMT) this morning, am operation started in northern Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country, like Daesh [ISIS] and the PYD.”  Troops have entered Jarablus and captured all government buildings. ISIS fighters fled with little resistance. Syrian Kurdish officials are upset with Turkey’s military intervention. Syrian Kurdish YPG spokesman, Redur Xelil, called the intervention “blatant aggression in syrian internal affairs.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Russia is “deeply worried” about Operation Euphrates Shield. (Reuters,  Al-Jazeera, AP, Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters, Telegraph, EA Worldview)

Political / Key Statements

  • 24 August 2016: Biden told Syrian Kurdish forces to go back across the Euphrates, otherwise they would lose US support. Biden said “they cannot, will not, under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment.” The relationship between the US and Turkey has been strained after Turkey’s recently failed coup. Turkey is demanding the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based preacher, who Turkey believes led the coup. Biden is currently in Turkey to repair Turkey-US relations. (USA News, ABC,  France24)
  • 24 August 2016: The Syrian government condemned the Turkish incursion. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Turkey’s incursion was a violation of Syrian sovereignty and that any engagement in battles within Syria must be coordinated with the Syrian government. The Syrian Coalition welcomes the support from Turkey in ousting ISIS from Jarablus. The Coalition clarified that foreign aid was temporary in Jarablus, and that FSA was leading the ground attack. Germany’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Martin Schaefer, said Germany supports both the Turkish operation driving ISIS out of Jarablus, and Turkey’s “legitimate right to take action against” Kurdish forces. (Reuters, Reuters, Etilaf-eng, Etilaf-ar, Naharnet, NOW, SANA-ar, Reuters)
  • 24 August: 2016: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Geneva on Friday to discuss the crises in Syria and Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the two men spoke today about a humanitarian operation in Aleppo conducted by Syrian government and Russian forces. (Reuters)

Humanitarian

  • N/A

Notable Reports/Media/Transcripts

  • 24 August 2016: “Syrian conjoined twins die awaiting transfer abroad” (BBC)
  • 24 August 2016: “The Virtual Surgeons of Syria,” by Avi Asher-Schapiro  (The Atlantic)
  • 23 August 2016: “US and Europe Say Assad May Have Kept Some Chemical Weapons,” by Colum Lynch, David Kenner (Foreign Policy)