Media reports say Turkish artillery has attacked a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia as well as Islamic State group positions across the border in Syria. Hurriyet newspaper says the attacks targeted positions north of the town of Manbij, which a Kurdish-led force recently captured from Islamic State, on Monday. The state-run Anadolu Agency says Turkey has increased security measures at its border opposite the Islamic State-held town of Jarablus, deploying tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Turkish officials were not immediately available to confirm the report, which came as Syrian activists claimed that hundreds of Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters have gathered in the Turkish border area of Karkamis in preparation for an attack on Jarablus. Ankara is concerned about the growing power of US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, who are linked to Kurdish groups waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
The UN humanitarian chief is urging all combatants in Aleppo to agree to a 48-hour pause to deliver desperately needed aid, warning of a “humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled in the over five years of bloodshed” in Syria.
Stephen O’Brien says Aleppo is being bombed every day, including a dozen new attacks Monday, and has become “the apex of horror” in “the greatest crisis of our time.” He told the UN Security Council, which has been deeply divided over Syria, that “you have the power with a pen — a simple pen stroke– to allow food to people.” O’Brien says the UN sought to deliver aid to nearly one million Syrians in August but not a single humanitarian convoy has moved so far this month.
London police have arrested two women, aged 16 and 20, for allegedly trying to travel to Syria to join a banned organization. The Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command said Monday the pair were arrested on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act. No further details were offered. The arrest reflects heightened concern about young women trying to join the Islamic State group in Syria. The issue particularly rose in prominence after three teenage girls traveled to Syria last year to become so-called “jihadi brides.” One of the three, Kadiza Sultana, is believed to have died in an airstrike.
The Russian Defense Ministry says all Russian warplanes that were based in Iran, from which they launched airstrikes in Syria, have returned back to Russia. The ministry said in a statement on Monday that as long as Iran agrees Russia could use the Iranian air base again “depending on the situation” in Syria. Russia first announced last week that its planes had flown combat missions from Iran, a move that represented a historical rapprochement between Moscow and Tehran.
Moscow’s comments came hours after the Iranian Defense Ministry criticized Russia for having “kind of show-off and ungentlemanly” attitude for publicizing the fact that it had used the Iranian base.
A Syrian Kurdish news agency says clashes have erupted again in the northern Syrian city of Hasakeh between Kurdish fighters and Syrian pro-government militias. Monday’s outbreak follows a short lull in violence the day before. The Hawar News Agency says fighters loyal to the Kurdish political movement are engaged with pro-government fighters in the city. The government and the Kurdish movement have shared control of the city since the early years of the Syrian civil war.
Syrian government planes bombed Kurdish positions in Hasakeh last week as the struggle for predominance in the city escalated. The clashes had calmed Sunday amid news of a possible truce. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Kurdish fighters have advanced into the city’s eastern Ghouieran neighborhood amid “violent” clashes.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman says Russia will stop using an Iranian air base for airstrikes in Syria for the time being. Bahram Ghasemi told reporters on Monday in Tehran that the Russian airstrikes on militants in Syria were “temporary, based on a Russian request.” He also says the strikes were carried out with “mutual understanding and with Iran’s permission” and that the Russian mission “is finished, for now.”
Ghasemi reiterated that Russia “has no base in Iran.” His remarks reflect the Iranian authorities’ displeasure at the extent of publicity Russia’s use of an Iranian air base got last week.
Iran’s defense minister is chastising Russia, saying Moscow’s announcement on using Iranian bases for attacks on Syrian militants was “kind of show off and ungentlemanly.” State TV’s website on Monday quoted Gen. Hossein Dehghan as saying “Russians seek to show that they are a superpower.” Dehghan’s remarks were the first sign of pushback from Tehran after Russia last week began using Iranian territory to launch airstrikes in Syria, with Moscow’s bombers flying out of the Islamic Republic for three straight days to hit what Russia says are Islamic State targets and other militants in the war-ravaged country.
Iran only confirmed the flights and the use of its bases a day after Russia made the announcement. Dehghan’s comments suggest Iran may not have wanted the flights publicized to such an extent.