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The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162699066_fcff1ccc-b8ca-4adf-aed5-30f92fa485e3-articleLarge The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Turkish-backed fighters near the town of Tukhar, Syria, on Monday.CreditAref Tammawi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Trump said Monday that he was halting trade negotiations with Turkey and doubling tariffs on imports of Turkish steel as relations between the countries continued to deteriorate.

Mr. Trump said that he was increasing steel tariffs on Turkey to 50 percent from 25 percent, and warned that additional economic sanctions were coming.

The United States imposed a 50-percent steel tariff on Turkey last year amid a conflict over an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was detained in Turkey and accused of espionage. The tariff was later reduced to 25 percent.

Saudi Arabia has spoken out publicly for the first time about President Trump’s abrupt decision to pull American forces out of northern Syria, with one top diplomat calling the results “a disaster for the region.”

That was the response Monday from the kingdom’s newly arrived ambassador to London, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan.

The decision “does not give one incredible confidence,” the ambassador said when asked whether the pullout had altered the kingdom’s assessment of Mr. Trump’s reliability as an ally. “We are concerned, no question,” he said.

Prince Khalid, speaking in a public discussion with the BBC newscaster Frank Gardner at the Royal United Services Institute, addressed the Syria withdrawal and the upheaval that followed with unusual candor for a diplomat from the kingdom. Official public communications there are usually highly formal and tightly restricted, and Saudi Arabia had studiously avoided criticizing the United States’ Syria policy.

“The last thing we need in the region is another front of chaos, and I think we just got it,” he said.

At the same time, Prince Khalid noted that Mr. Trump had also agreed this week to send some American troops and missile batteries to Saudi Arabia, in order to help “manage the northern defenses.” Those moves came in the aftermath of a crippling attack on the kingdom’s most important oil installation, carried out last month by a barrage of low-flying cruise missiles or drones.

Now the Saudis are trying to square the American decision to send it support with Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of northern Syria.

“Luckily, I am not the ambassador to Washington,” the ambassador joked.

In a conversation after the talk, Prince Khaled also said that Mr. Trump’s pullout of Syria had increased the influence in the region of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, a main sponsor of the Syrian government.

“Russia is becoming an important player in the region — whether one likes it or not, it is a fact,” Prince Khalid said.

“The Russians,” he said, “do to a certain extent understand the East better than the West does.”

The return of government forces to northeastern Syria not only deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who were supported by the United States, but also signals a major shift in Syria’s eight-year war.

The Syrian Army entered the town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, the state news media reported on Monday, soon after the government of President Bashar al-Assad forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces that control the region.

The Syrian government had been almost entirely absent from the northeast since it withdrew or was chased out by armed rebels in the early years of Syria’s civil war. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that worked with the United States to fight the Islamic State, soon became the region’s overarching political force.

Although the Syrian Kurds did not declare Mr. al-Assad’s government an enemy, the Syrian president looked askance at their goal of self-rule and vowed to retake all his country’s territory. He had no way to do so, however, especially with American troops remaining in the area.

President Trump’s decision last week to move those troops out of the way of a Turkish incursion gave Mr. al-Assad an opening, and his forces began to fill it on Monday. Trucks drove large numbers of Syrian soldiers into the area to take up positions.

In some towns, they were welcomed by residents who chanted nationalistic slogans and carried Mr. al-Assad’s photograph.

ImageWestlake Legal Group the-daily-album-art-articleInline-v2 The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Kurdish General on His People’s Plight

The Americans promised they would protect his people. Now, one Kurdish leader is forced to turn to former foes for help.

Tel Tamer is a strategic crossroads that connects northeastern Syria with the country’s northern hub, Aleppo, and is 20 miles from Ras al Ain, the center of the Turkish assault.

If Syrian government forces can reach the Turkish border to the north and the Iraqi border to the east, it would be a major breakthrough in Mr. al-Assad’s quest to re-establish his control over the whole country.

Syrian government forces also entered the town of Ain Issa on Monday, a day after it was briefly overrun by Turkish-led troops. Around 500 ISIS sympathizers took advantage of the mayhem and escaped detention, local officials said.

Where Turkish forces have moved into Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-900 The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Towards

Iraq

Ras al Ain

Syrian Army forces

U.S. troops

deployed to a bridge.

Area of

detail

Syrian Army forces

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Towards

Iraq

Ras al Ain

Syrian Army forces

U.S. troops

deployed to a bridge.

Area of

detail

Syrian Army forces

KURDISH

Control

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 The Latest on Syria’s War: A Major Shift, and U.S. Tariffs on Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

Ras al Ain

Towards

Iraq

U.S.

troops

deployed to a bridge.

Syrian Army forces

Syrian Army forces

KURDISH

Control

Area of

detail

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas as of Oct. 14th via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

A Kurdish official, Aldar Xelil, said in a statement on Monday afternoon that Syrian government forces are to stay away from a section of the Turkish border currently being contested by Turkish-led forces and the Kurdish militia that controlled the area until last week.

Mr. Xelil said the Kurds would fight alone on that part of the border, where the Turkish forces have already established a strong presence. He also said the Kurdish authorities would remain in charge of administering and policing of the region. Syrian officials have not confirmed the details of the plan Mr. Xelil described.

Foreign ministers from all 28 European Union member states agreed unanimously on Monday to stop selling arms to Turkey, the first time the bloc has reached such a decision about a NATO ally.

The European Union chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who is nearing the end of her tenure, said that the military action by Turkey in Syria raised concerns in Europe about a resurgence of ISIS, and that this was a key motivation for the decision.

President Trump has criticized European countries for not repatriating their citizens who went to fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Ms. Mogherini said the issue was not discussed at Monday’s foreign minister meeting.

In a joint statement from the foreign ministers, the bloc condemned Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, agreeing on strong wording despite initial concerns from Britain.

“The E.U. condemns Turkey’s military action, which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance,” the ministers said.

The decision is expected to be most significant for Germany, a major source of weapons for Turkey. Britain, France and Italy also sell arms to Turkey.

With the Syrian Kurds forced to turn to Mr. al-Assad and his key backer, Russia, for help in fending off Turkey’s advance, the retreat of United States troops from northeastern Syria appears to be a boon to Moscow’s interests in the Middle East.

On Russian state television’s prime weekly news show on Sunday night, the anchor Dmitri Kiselyov trumpeted the pullback of troops as the latest evidence that Americans are not to be trusted.

“The Kurds themselves again picked the wrong patron,” Mr. Kiselyov said. “The United States, of course, is an unreliable partner.”

But the Kremlin on Monday played down the possibility of a clash between Russian and Turkish forces as analysts cautioned that Moscow’s expanding influence in Syria was tempered by new risks.

The departure of American troops has also created new tests for a Russian military that critics already say is overextended, forcing it to confront a resurgent threat from the Islamic State and the danger of a clash with Turkey.

“We wouldn’t even want to think about such a scenario,” a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Monday, answering a reporter’s question about the possibility of conflict between Russian and Turkish forces. “There are communication links between the militaries” for avoiding such a collision, he added.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia warned that thousands of detained Islamic State fighters who are originally from Russia and other former Soviet republics may flee as a result of Turkey’s advance, presenting a serious security risk.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign policy analyst close to the Kremlin, said that “Russia’s goal is for more and more territory to come under Assad’s control in one form or another, and the current developments facilitate this.” But, he cautioned, “this is all very dangerous, because this is an extremely fragile situation.”

Underscoring Russia’s growing sway in the Middle East, Mr. Putin landed in Riyadh on Monday for a state visit to Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most powerful Arab ally. Mr. Putin planned to discuss regional security, oil prices and business deals in meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kremlin said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said on Monday that his troops would continue to support an invasion of parts of northern Syria, despite the return of Syrian government forces.

The official Turkish explanation for the offensive was to clear the area of the Kurdish-led militia that has close ties with a terrorist group that is banned in Turkey.

At the start of the invasion, Turkish officials said they respected Syrian sovereignty.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Erdogan said a Turkish-backed force would press on with attempts to capture Manbij, a town at the crossroads of two major highways that the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have handed over to the Syrian government. He then criticized NATO allies for not aiding in Turkey’s fight.

“There is a struggle against terrorists — are you going to stand by your ally, a NATO member, or the terrorists?” he asked.

The invasion of Manbij would be led on the ground by Syrian Arab militias, but would have Turkish backing, Mr. Erdogan said. The Turkish president appeared to be more ambivalent about Kobani, a Kurdish-run city on the Syrian border that Mr. Erdogan had previously threatened to capture. It was the scene of a fierce battle between Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists in 2014 and 2015 that ended in an ISIS retreat.

Mr. Erdogan implied on Monday that an agreement about Kobani had been reached with the Russian government, Syria’s main international backer, though his meaning was unclear.

“In Kobani with Russia’s positive approach, it seems like there won’t be a problem,” Mr. Erdogan said, without elaborating.

A local journalist said by phone that American troops had been deployed to a strategically-located bridge south of Kobani over the Euphrates River, making it harder for Syrian government troops to reach the area and the United States military base in its vicinity.

The Kurdish authorities handed over control of Kobani to the Syrian government overnight, in a bid to stop Turkish-led forces from making further gains.

“The Americans are still on the bridge,” said Ahmad Mohammad, a Kurdish journalist from the area. The Rojava Information Center, an activist-led information group, also reported that at least three American vehicles were deployed on the bridge on Monday.

The United States military had said it would withdraw from the area but needs time to carry out a retreat.

Tensions between France and Turkey over the invasion of Syria have spilled over into sports.

The two countries met on the soccer field near Paris on Monday night, but only after some French politicians called for the game to be canceled.

It wasn’t, but France’s Foreign Ministry said that Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign minister, would no longer be attending.

The French authorities announced heightened security at the game, which was being played at the Stade de France near Paris. Over 75,000 spectators were expected, including nearly 4,000 Turkish fans, and many more from France’s Turkish community.

In arguing for the game to be canceled, some French politicians noted that the Turkish national team made a military salute during a game against Albania last week.

“If Turkish soccer players do military salutes, they should expect to be treated like soldiers from an enemy army,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the far-left France Unbowed party, said on Twitter.

Mr. Mélenchon said that France should not play against Turkey because “the basis of the sporting spirit is no longer there.”

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the head of the centrist UDI party, said the Turkish team had “breached the border that separates sports from politics.”

“Tomorrow at the Stade de France, we cannot decently welcome those who are saluting the massacre of our Kurdish allies,” Mr. Lagarde said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Turkish troops shelled within 550 yards of an American observation post in northern Syria late Friday while United States troops were in the area, according to a military situation report obtained by The New York Times.

Since 2016, the United States has maintained several camps in northern Syria, including a post near the town of Kobani, as part of an international alliance fighting the Islamic State.

The military report undermines both American and Turkish narratives about the shelling, which was first reported on Friday by Newsweek. In American news reports over the weekend, unidentified officials variously claimed that the Turkish shelling was probably deliberate, that it was intense and that it had hit areas on both sides of the American post. In an official statement, the Pentagon said only that Turkish forces had shelled within a few hundred meters of American troops.

In response, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that the strike was an accident and that its forces had fired on Kurdish troops around 1,000 yards from the American outpost. But the military situation report contests both the anonymous American briefings and the Turkish account.

A map shows two Turkish artillery strikes two miles west of the American outpost and one strike landing roughly 300 to 500 yards southwest of the post, closer than the Turks acknowledged, but less intense than some United States officials have claimed.

The military report said that the shelling near the American post was probably an accident, and added that further misfires by Turkish forces could not be ruled out.

The United States had no greater ally in driving out the Islamic State militants who claimed vast swathes of Syria in the quest for a modern-day caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its American military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their strongholds.

But another United States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across their southern border and saw not an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia’s ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, the S.D.F. has turned its attention away from the Islamic State, including those militants captured during the war and held in detention camps. Already, some ISIS members said to have escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen “high-value” detainees to the United States from Syria never happened.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeper cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anna Momigliano, Anton Troianovski, Steven Erlanger, Aurelien Breeden, Karam Shoumali, Eric Nagourney, Russell Goldman and Megan Specia.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Who Are the Kurds, and Why Is Turkey Attacking Them in Syria?

Westlake Legal Group 14Kurds-Explainer1-facebookJumbo Who Are the Kurds, and Why Is Turkey Attacking Them in Syria? United States Defense and Military Forces United States Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syrian Army Syria Russia Kurds Iran Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

The Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria has complicated an already chaotic war.

What began eight years ago as a series of nonviolent protests against the Syrian government morphed into an international conflict, between dozens of local factions, the Islamic State and several foreign countries.

Now, an American ally is attacking a group that fought side by side with American troops for years — and much of the world is reeling from the war’s sudden turn.

Let’s walk through the details of how the Kurds came to be in the center of a dizzying conflict.

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up between 5 and 10 percent of the Syrian population of 21 million in 2011. They live mostly in the north of the country, close to the border with Turkey, alongside Arabs and other ethnic groups. There are also large Kurdish populations in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, but there is no country with a Kurdish majority.

As peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad descended into an armed civil war in 2011 and 2012, various factions vied for control of Syria. These included pro-government militias, rebels fighting for a more democratic state, Islamist extremists, and militias from ethnic and religious minorities seeking to protect their areas from attack.

Among them were several Kurdish militias, the strongest of which was the People’s Protection Units, known by its Kurdish initials, the Y.P.G.

For several years, the Obama administration resisted calls to play a direct role in the Syrian war, preferring instead to provide funding and training for some rebel groups.

But President Barack Obama changed his mind as the Islamic State took advantage of the chaos of the war to capture vast swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory.

As Islamic State fighters swept across Syria, the People’s Protection Units emerged as one of the few Syrian armed groups consistently able to take on the extremists. When the international coalition, led by the United States, sought local partners to contain the militants, they saw the Kurdish militia as the safest option.

As the Kurdish militia gradually forced ISIS out of northern Syria — losing an estimated 11,000 troops in the process — it assumed governance of the land it captured. The militia eventually took control of about a quarter of the Syrian land mass, including most of the border with Turkey and areas mostly populated by Arabs and other ethnic groups.

The militia is an offshoot of a Kurdish guerrilla group known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization.

Turkey sees Kurdish control of an area so close to its border as a major security threat, and fears that the area could become a haven for dissidents fleeing Turkey — or a springboard for insurgents plotting attacks on Turkish territory.

Turkish hostility to Kurdish groups put the United States in a bind: one American ally, Turkey, a NATO member and a fellow adversary of the Syrian government, was eager to crush another American ally, the Kurdish militia that fought on the front lines against ISIS.

The Obama administration tried to play down the militia’s connections to guerrillas in Turkey, encouraging the group to change its name and enlist more non-Kurdish fighters. The group is now called the Syrian Democratic Forces, and about 40 percent of its fighters are Arab or from other ethnic backgrounds, according to a 2016 estimate by American officials.

American forces also began to act as de facto peacekeepers, conducting patrols of the Turkish border, first on their own, and then in tandem with Turkish troops.

In recent months, the United States persuaded the Kurdish authorities to withdraw forces from the border and dismantle a series of defensive fortifications, as a show of good will to Turkey.

President Trump has long wanted to withdraw American forces from Syria, saying that the United States must avoid “endless wars.” He first ordered a withdrawal in December, but suspended the plan after his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, resigned in protest.

American troops seemed to be in Syria for the long haul, with American commanders assuring their Kurdish counterparts that they would be able to keep the peace in northern Syria for the foreseeable future.

But then Mr. Trump suddenly changed his mind again on Oct. 6 during a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Then he ordered American troops to leave the border area.

That gave Turkey open access to Kurdish territory, and a force consisting of Turkish troops and their Syrian Arab proxies began an invasion on Oct. 9.

Not entirely.

Initially, American troops withdrew from a relatively small part of the Turkish-Syrian border, redeploying to American outposts in other parts of Kurdish-held Syria.

But amid the chaos of the invasion, in which American troops were almost shelled by accident, the Pentagon has now ordered a complete withdrawal from northern Syria. The retreat will most likely take several days.

A small American base in southern Syria will remain for now.

The Trump administration has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey for its attacks on the Kurds, and on Monday President Trump said that he was halting trade negotiations with Turkey and doubling tariffs on imports of Turkish steel.

The immediate winners were Turkey and its Syrian Arab proxies, who had captured over 75 square miles of previously Kurdish-held territory by the end of the weekend.

The Islamic State might also profit from the instability, since Kurdish-led fighters no longer have the manpower to root out remaining militant cells or to guard roughly 11,000 captured ISIS fighters detained on Kurdish-held territory. The Kurds also operate more than a dozen camps for displaced families, in all holding tens of thousands of people, many of them the wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

The Syrian government is another beneficiary: On Sunday, the Kurdish authorities allowed Syrian troops to return to large parts of northern Syria in which they had no presence for more than half a decade.

Officially, the Syrian Army will just assist the Kurds in their defense of the area, with civilian life still managed by the Kurdish-led administration. But many fear that eventually the Assad regime, and its feared security forces, will take back control.

Russia and Iran, Mr. al-Assad’s main international protectors, are the other winners.

America’s withdrawal from northern Syria allows the two countries to expand their influence in the region. In particular, Russia has emerged as the main power broker in negotiations between the Kurds, Mr. al-Assad and the Turkish government.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Syria Live Updates: As Turkey Invades, al-Assad Sees Chance to Reclaim Lost Territory

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162695151_7e35c028-1bb9-4eec-ad11-a743c6792d23-articleLarge Syria Live Updates: As Turkey Invades, al-Assad Sees Chance to Reclaim Lost Territory United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh on Monday.CreditPool photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

Saudi Arabia has spoken out publicly for the first time about President Trump’s abrupt decision to pull American forces out of northern Syria, with one top diplomat calling it “a disaster for the region.”

That was the response Monday from the kingdom’s newly arrived ambassador to London, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan.

The decision “does not give one incredible confidence,” the ambassador said when asked whether the pullout had altered the kingdom’s assessment of Mr. Trump’s reliability as an ally. “We are concerned, no question,” he said.

Prince Khaled, speaking in a public discussion with the BBC newscaster Frank Gardner at the Royal United Services Institute, addressed the Syria withdrawal and the upheaval that followed with unusual candor for a diplomat from the kingdom. Official public communications there are usually highly formal and tightly restricted.

“The last thing we need in the region is another front of chaos, and I think we just got it,” he said.

At the same time, Prince Khalid noted that Mr. Trump had also agreed this week to send some American troops and missile batteries to Saudi Arabia, in order to help “manage the northern defenses.” Those moves came in the aftermath of a crippling attack on the kingdom’s most important oil installation, carried out last month by a barrage of low-flying cruise missiles or drones.

Now the Saudis are trying to square the American decision to send it support with Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of northern Syria.

“Luckily, I am not the ambassador to Washington,” the ambassador joked.

Critics of Mr. Trump’s decision say that it has strengthened American adversaries.

“Russia is becoming an important player in the region — whether one likes it or not, it is a fact,” Prince Khalid said.

“The Russians,” he said, “do to a certain extent understand the East better than the West does.”

The return of government forces to northeastern Syria not only deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who were supported by the United States, but also signals a major shift in Syria’s eight-year war.

The Syrian Army entered the town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, the state news media reported on Monday, soon after the government of President Bashar al-Assad forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces that control the region.

The Syrian government had been almost entirely absent from the northeast since it withdrew or was chased out by armed rebels in the early years of Syria’s civil war. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that worked with the United States to fight the Islamic State, soon became the region’s overarching political force.

Although the Syrian Kurds did not declare Mr. al-Assad’s government an enemy, the Syrian president looked askance at their goal of self-rule and vowed to retake all his country’s territory. He had no way to do so, however, especially with American troops remaining in the area.

President Trump’s decision last week to move those troops out of the way of a Turkish incursion gave Mr. al-Assad an opening, and his forces began to fill it on Monday. Trucks drove large numbers of Syrian soldiers into the area to take up positions.

In some towns, they were welcomed by residents who chanted nationalistic slogans and carried Mr. al-Assad’s photograph.

ImageWestlake Legal Group the-daily-album-art-articleInline-v2 Syria Live Updates: As Turkey Invades, al-Assad Sees Chance to Reclaim Lost Territory United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Kurdish General on His People’s Plight

The Americans promised they would protect his people. Now, one Kurdish leader is forced to turn to former foes for help.

Tel Tamer is a strategic crossroads that connects northeastern Syria with the country’s northern hub, Aleppo, and is 20 miles from Ras al Ain, the center of the Turkish assault.

If Syrian government forces can reach the Turkish border to the north and the Iraqi border to the east, it would be a major breakthrough in Mr. al-Assad’s quest to re-establish his control over the whole country.

Syrian government forces also entered the town of Ain Issa on Monday, a day after it was briefly overrun by Turkish-led troops. Around 500 ISIS sympathizers took advantage of the mayhem and escaped detention, local officials said.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Syria Live Updates: As Turkey Invades, al-Assad Sees Chance to Reclaim Lost Territory United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

KURDISH

Control

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

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Government

Control

Deir al-Zour

Albu Kamal

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Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Syria Live Updates: As Turkey Invades, al-Assad Sees Chance to Reclaim Lost Territory United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

A Kurdish official, Aldar Xelil, said in a statement on Monday afternoon that Syrian government forces are to stay away from a section of the Turkish border currently being contested by Turkish-led forces and the Kurdish militia that controlled the area until last week.

Mr. Xelil said the Kurds would fight alone on that part of the border, where the Turkish forces have already established a strong presence. He also said the Kurdish authorities would remain in charge of administering and policing of the region. Syrian officials have not confirmed the details of the plan Mr. Xelil described.

Foreign ministers from all 28 European Union member states agreed unanimously on Monday to stop selling arms to Turkey, the first time the bloc has reached such a decision about a NATO ally.

The European Union chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who is nearing the end of her tenure, said that the military action by Turkey in Syria raised concerns in Europe about a resurgence of ISIS, and that this was a key motivation for the decision.

President Trump has criticized European countries for not repatriating their citizens who went to fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Ms. Mogherini said the issue was not discussed at Monday’s foreign minister meeting.

In a joint statement from the foreign ministers, the bloc condemned Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, agreeing on strong wording despite initial concerns from Britain.

“The E.U. condemns Turkey’s military action, which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance,” the ministers said.

The decision is expected to be most significant for Germany, a major source of weapons for Turkey. Britain, France and Italy also sell arms to Turkey.

With the Syrian Kurds forced to turn to Mr. al-Assad and his key backer, Russia, for help in fending off Turkey’s advance, the retreat of United States troops from northeastern Syria appears to be a boon to Moscow’s interests in the Middle East.

On Russian state television’s prime weekly news show on Sunday night, the anchor Dmitri Kiselyov trumpeted the pullback of troops as the latest evidence that Americans are not to be trusted.

“The Kurds themselves again picked the wrong patron,” Mr. Kiselyov said. “The United States, of course, is an unreliable partner.”

But the Kremlin on Monday played down the possibility of a clash between Russian and Turkish forces as analysts cautioned that Moscow’s expanding influence in Syria was tempered by new risks.

The departure of American troops has also created new tests for a Russian military that critics already say is overextended, forcing it to confront a resurgent threat from the Islamic State and the danger of a clash with Turkey.

“We wouldn’t even want to think about such a scenario,” a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Monday, answering a reporter’s question about the possibility of conflict between Russian and Turkish forces. “There are communication links between the militaries” for avoiding such a collision, he added.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia warned that thousands of detained Islamic State fighters who are originally from Russia and other former Soviet republics may flee as a result of Turkey’s advance, presenting a serious security risk.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign policy analyst close to the Kremlin, said that “Russia’s goal is for more and more territory to come under Assad’s control in one form or another, and the current developments facilitate this.” But, he cautioned, “this is all very dangerous, because this is an extremely fragile situation.”

Underscoring Russia’s growing sway in the Middle East, Mr. Putin landed in Riyadh on Monday for a state visit to Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most powerful Arab ally. Mr. Putin planned to discuss regional security, oil prices and business deals in meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kremlin said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said on Monday that his troops would continue to support an invasion of parts of northern Syria, despite the return of Syrian government forces.

The official Turkish explanation for the offensive was to clear the area of the Kurdish-led militia that has close ties with a terrorist group that is banned in Turkey.

At the start of the invasion, Turkish officials said they respected Syrian sovereignty.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Erdogan said a Turkish-backed force would press on with attempts to capture Manbij, a town at the crossroads of two major highways that the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have handed over to the Syrian government. He then criticized NATO allies for not aiding in Turkey’s fight.

“There is a struggle against terrorists — are you going to stand by your ally, a NATO member, or the terrorists?” he asked.

The invasion of Manbij would be led on the ground by Syrian Arab militias, but would have Turkish backing, Mr. Erdogan said. The Turkish president appeared to be more ambivalent about Kobani, a Kurdish-run city on the Syrian border that Mr. Erdogan had previously threatened to capture. It was the scene of a fierce battle between Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists in 2014 and 2015 that ended in an ISIS retreat.

Mr. Erdogan implied on Monday that an agreement about Kobani had been reached with the Russian government, Syria’s main international backer, though his meaning was unclear.

“In Kobani with Russia’s positive approach, it seems like there won’t be a problem,” Mr. Erdogan said, without elaborating.

A local journalist said by phone that American troops had been deployed to a strategically-located bridge south of Kobani over the Euphrates River, making it harder for Syrian government troops to reach the area and the United States military base in its vicinity.

The Kurdish authorities handed over control of Kobani to the Syrian government overnight, in a bid to stop Turkish-led forces from making further gains.

“The Americans are still on the bridge,” said Ahmad Mohammad, a Kurdish journalist from the area. The Rojava Information Center, an activist-led information group, also reported that at least three American vehicles were deployed on the bridge on Monday.

The United States military had said it would withdraw from the area but needs time to carry out a retreat.

Turkish troops shelled within 550 yards of an American observation post in northern Syria late Friday while United States troops were in the area, according to a military situation report obtained by The New York Times.

Since 2016, the United States has maintained several camps in northern Syria, including a post near the town of Kobani, as part of an international alliance fighting the Islamic State.

The military report undermines both American and Turkish narratives about the shelling, which was first reported on Friday by Newsweek. In American news reports over the weekend, unidentified officials variously claimed that the Turkish shelling was probably deliberate, that it was intense and that it had hit areas on both sides of the American post. In an official statement, the Pentagon said only that Turkish forces had shelled within a few hundred meters of American troops.

In response, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that the strike was an accident and that its forces had fired on Kurdish troops around 1,000 yards from the American outpost. But the military situation report contests both the anonymous American briefings and the Turkish account.

A map shows two Turkish artillery strikes two miles west of the American outpost and one strike landing roughly 300 to 500 yards southwest of the post, closer than the Turks acknowledged, but less intense than some United States officials have claimed.

The military report said that the shelling near the American post was probably an accident, and added that further misfires by Turkish forces could not be ruled out.

The United States had no greater ally in driving out the Islamic State militants who claimed vast swathes of Syria in the quest for a modern-day caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its American military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their strongholds.

But another United States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across their southern border and saw not an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia’s ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, the S.D.F. has turned its attention away from the Islamic State, including those militants captured during the war and held in detention camps. Already, some ISIS members said to have escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen “high-value” detainees to the United States from Syria never happened.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeper cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anna Momigliano, Anton Troianovski, Steven Erlanger, Aurelien Breeden, Karam Shoumali, Eric Nagourney, Russell Goldman and Megan Specia.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162683814_d79699bc-2413-4b97-a0bf-2f200a8161b0-articleLarge Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Syrian troops entered Tel Tamer on Monday shortly after the government forged an alliance with Kurdish forces.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Syrian Army entered the town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, the state news media reported on Monday, soon after the government of President Bashar al-Assad forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces that control the region.

The return of government forces to northeastern Syria not only deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who were supported by the United States, but also signals a major shift in Syria’s eight-year war.

The Syrian government had been almost entirely absent from the northeast since it withdrew or was chased out by armed rebels. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that worked with the United States to fight the Islamic State, soon became the region’s overarching political force.

Although the Syrian Kurds did not declare Mr. Assad’s government an enemy, Mr. Assad distrusted their efforts to establish self rule and vowed to retake all of Syria’s territory. But he had no way to do so, especially as American troops remained in the area.

President Trump’s decision last week to move those troops out of the way of a Turkish incursion gave Mr. Assad an opening, and his forces began to fill it on Monday.

In some towns, they were welcomed by locals who chanted nationalistic slogans and carried Mr. Assad’s photograph. In other areas, trucks drove large numbers of Syrian soldiers into the area to take up positions.

ImageWestlake Legal Group the-daily-album-art-articleInline-v2 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Kurdish General on His People’s Plight

The Americans promised they would protect his people. Now, one Kurdish leader is forced to turn to former foes for help.

Tel Tamer is a strategic crossroads that connects northeastern Syria with the country’s northern hub, Aleppo, and is 20 miles from Ras al Ain, the center of the Turkish assault.

If Syrian government forces can reach the Turkish border to the north and the Iraqi border to the east, it would be a major breakthrough in Mr. Assad’s quest to re-establish his control over the whole country.

Syrian government forces also entered the town of Ain Issa on Monday, a day after it was briefly overrun by Turkish-led troops. Around 500 ISIS sympathizers took advantage of the mayhem and escaped detention, local officials said.

Syrian state television showed long lines of Syrian Army vehicles in Ain Issa on Monday, greeted by a group of cheering residents. “We’ve been waiting for you for a long time,” one woman said.

A soldier held up his gun and said, “I’m here to kick out the Turkish mercenaries.”

Foreign ministers from all 28 European Union member states agreed unanimously on Monday to stop selling arms to Turkey, the first time the bloc reached such a decision about a NATO ally.

In a joint statement from the foreign ministers, the bloc condemned Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, agreeing on strong wording despite initial concerns from Britain.

“The E.U. condemns Turkey’s military action, which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance,” the ministers said.

The legal and practical elements of such a move are complicated: Like most European Union nations, Turkey is a NATO member. European officials decided that the best way to enforce the ban was through suspending licensing for arms sales in individual European capitals, making it a national move.

This complexity was reflected in the joint statement: Citing earlier plans from France and Germany “to immediately halt arms exports licensing to Turkey,” the ministers said that “member states commit to strong national positions regarding their arms export policy to Turkey.”

The decision is expected to be most significant for Germany, a major source of weapons for Turkey. Britain, France and Italy also sell arms to Turkey.

It has been only a week since President Trump pulled back American forces in Syria and effectively gave Turkey the green light to cross the border and pursue its own military agenda. Alliances are shifting, ISIS is reinvigorated and the lives of thousands of civilians are endangered.

Embittered at their abandonment by their American allies, Kurdish leaders moved to secure a new partner: the government of Bashar al-Assad, an avowed foe of the United States.

Late Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, said they had struck a deal with the Assad government that would allow government forces to enter the Kurdish-controlled northeast of Syria for the first time in years. The commander of the S.D.F. wrote an article for Foreign Policy that explained the reasoning behind the deal.

The commander, Mazloum Abdi, said that in the absence of American help against the Turkish invasion, he had no option but to seek help from the Syrian Army and their Russian allies, even though “we do not trust their promises.”

“We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them,” he added. “But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”

Trump administration officials once argued that keeping Mr. Assad’s forces out of the territory was crucial to stemming Iranian and Russian influence in Syria. But with American troops on the way out, Washington has lost its leverage.

“The worst thing in military logic and comrades in the trench is betrayal,” said one official allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Some American military members who had worked closely with the Kurdish militia were also appalled.

“They trusted us and we broke that trust,” said one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria. “It’s a stain on the American conscience.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said on Monday that his troops would continue to support an invasion of parts of northern Syria, despite the return of Syrian government forces.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Erdogan said a Turkish-backed force would press on with attempts to capture Manbij, a town at the crossroads of two major highways that the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have handed over to the Syrian government.

The invasion of Manbij would be led on the ground by Syrian Arab militias, but would have Turkish backing, Mr. Erdogan said. The Turkish president appeared to be more ambivalent about Kobani, a Kurdish-run city on the Syrian border that Mr. Erdogan had previously threatened to capture. It was the scene of a fierce battle between Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists in 2014 and 2015 that ended in an ISIS retreat.

Mr. Erdogan implied on Monday that an agreement about Kobani had been reached with the Russian government, Syria’s main international backer, though his meaning was unclear.

“In Kobani with Russia’s positive approach, it seems like there won’t be a problem,” Mr. Erdogan said, without elaborating.

The official Turkish explanation for the offensive was to clear the area of the Kurdish-led militia that has close ties with a terrorist group that is banned in Turkey.

At the start of the invasion, Turkish officials said they respected Syrian sovereignty.

But on Monday, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Mr. Erdogan, said on Twitter that “the fact that Syrian Army has made a deal” with the Kurdish militia “will not stop Turkey’s antiterror operation.”

A second presidential adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, later tweeted that “Turkey will not stop until we reach our goals.” Turkish officials have previously promised to create a buffer zone along the length of its border with Syria, roughly 20 miles deep.

Turkish troops shelled within 550 yards of an American observation post in northern Syria late Friday while United States troops were in the area, according to a military situation report obtained by The New York Times.

Since 2016, the United States has maintained several camps in northern Syria, including a post near the town of Kobani, as part of an international alliance fighting the Islamic State.

The military report undermines both American and Turkish narratives about the shelling, which was first reported on Friday by Newsweek. In American news reports over the weekend, unidentified officials variously claimed that the Turkish shelling was probably deliberate, that it was intense and that it had hit areas on both sides of the American post. In an official statement, the Pentagon said only that Turkish forces had shelled within a few hundred meters of American troops.

In response, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that the strike was an accident and that its forces had fired on Kurdish troops around 1,000 yards from the American outpost. But the military situation report contests both the anonymous American briefings and the Turkish account.

A map shows two Turkish artillery strikes two miles west of the American outpost and one strike landing roughly 300 to 500 yards southwest of the post, closer than the Turks acknowledged, but less intense than some United States officials have claimed.

The military report said that the shelling near the American post was probably an accident, and added that further misfires by Turkish forces could not be ruled out.

The United States had no greater ally in driving out the Islamic State militants who claimed vast swathes of Syria in the quest for a modern-day caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its American military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their strongholds.

But another United States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across their southern border and saw not an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia’s ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, the S.D.F. has turned its attention away from the Islamic State, including those militants captured during the war and held in detention camps. Already, some ISIS members said to have escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen “high-value” detainees to the United States from Syria never happened.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeper cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

KURDISH

Control

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Deir al-Zour

Albu Kamal

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anna Momigliano, Anton Troianovski, Eric Nagourney, Russell Goldman and Megan Specia.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162683814_d79699bc-2413-4b97-a0bf-2f200a8161b0-articleLarge Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Syrian government troops entered the strategic town of Tel Tamer on Monday.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Syrian Army invaded the town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, state media reported on Monday, soon after the government of President Bashar al-Assad forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces that control the region.

Tel Tamer, a strategic crossroads that connects northeastern Syria with the country’s northern hub, Aleppo, is just 20 miles from Ras al Ain, the center of the Turkish assault.

Tel Tamer was once home to hundreds of Christians before ISIS overran the territory and claimed it as part of its self-declared caliphate in 2015. Kurdish-led fighters repelled the Islamist extremists and had held the town with the backing of American troops until President Trump abruptly withdrew them from the region last week.

ImageWestlake Legal Group the-daily-album-art-articleInline-v2 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Kurdish General on His People’s Plight

The Americans promised they would protect his people. Now, one Kurdish leader is forced to turn to former foes for help.

Syrian state television showed about half a dozen Syrian soldiers milling around a pickup truck mounted with a machine gun. They were greeted by a small crowd of local residents, some of whom carried portraits of Mr. Assad.

Syrian government forces also entered the town of Ain Issa on Monday a day after it was briefly overrun by Turkish-led troops. Around 500 ISIS sympathizers took advantage of the mayhem and escaped detention, local officials said.

Syrian state television showed long lines of Syrian Army vehicles in Ain Issa on Monday, greeted by a group of ululating residents.

“We’ve been waiting for you for a long time,” one woman said.

A soldier held up his gun and said: “I’m here to kick out the Turkish mercenaries.”

It has been only a week since President Trump pulled back American forces in Syria and effectively gave Turkey the green light to cross the border and pursue its own military agenda. Alliances are shifting, ISIS is reinvigorated and the lives of thousands of civilians are endangered.

Embittered at their abandonment by their American allies, Kurdish leaders adroitly moved to secure a new partner: The government of Bashar al-Assad, an avowed foe of the United States.

Late Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., said they had struck a deal with the Assad government that would allow government forces to enter the Kurdish-controlled northeast of Syria for the first time in years. The commander of the S.D.F. wrote an article for Foreign Policy that explained the reasoning behind the deal.

The commander, Mazloum Abdi, said in the absence of American help against the Turkish invasion, he had no option but to seek help from the Syrian Army and their Russian allies, even though “we do not trust their promises.”

“We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them,” he added. “But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”

Trump administration officials once argued that keeping Mr. Assad’s forces out of the territory was crucial to stemming Iranian and Russian influence in Syria. But with American troops on the way out, Washington has lost its leverage.

“The worst thing in military logic and comrades in the trench is betrayal,” said one official allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Some American military members who had worked closely with the Kurdish militia were also appalled.

“They trusted us and we broke that trust,” said one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria. “It’s a stain on the American conscience.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said on Monday that his troops would continue to support an invasion of parts of northern Syria, despite the return of Syrian government forces.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Erdogan said a Turkish-backed force would press on with attempts to capture Manbij, a town at the crossroads of two major highways that the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have handed over to the Syrian government.

The invasion of Manbij would be led on the ground by Syrian Arab militias, but would have Turkish backing, Mr. Erdogan said. The Turkish president appeared to be more ambivalent about Kobani, a Kurdish-run city on the Syrian border that Mr. Erdogan had previously threatened to capture. It was the scene of a fierce battle between Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists in 2014 and 2015 that ended in an ISIS retreat.

Mr. Erdogan implied on Monday that an agreement about Kobani had been reached with the Russian government, Syria’s main international backer, though his meaning was unclear.

“In Kobani with Russia’s positive approach, it seems like there won’t be a problem,” Mr. Erdogan said, without elaborating.

The official Turkish explanation for the offensive was to clear the area of the Kurdish-led militia that has close ties with a terrorist group that is banned in Turkey.

At the start of the invasion, Turkish officials said they respected Syrian sovereignty.

But on Monday, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, said on Twitter that “the fact that Syrian Army has made a deal” with the Kurdish militia “will not stop Turkey’s antiterror operation.”

A second presidential adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, later tweeted that “Turkey will not stop until we reach our goals.” Turkish officials have previously promised to create a buffer zone along the length of its border with Syria, roughly 20 miles deep.

The foreign ministers of European Union member states meet in Luxembourg on Monday, and among the issues up for debate is a Swedish proposal for a bloc-wide arms embargo on Turkey. The proposal could be endorsed by the 28 heads of government meeting in Brussels later this week.

Germany and France announced plans this weekend to curb arms sales to Turkey over the incursion into Syria, raising the prospect of a broader ban.

But other European nations have been slower to condemn the offensive. Italy insists that any ban on arms sales should come from the European Union level, not from individual members.

Turkey is the main buyer of Italian arms exports, and a ban on sales could deliver a major blow to an already faltering economy. Turkey accounted for 15 percent of Italy’s total weapons exports between 2014 and 2018, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

But Italy is facing pressure to take a similar line as Germany and France. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s incoming foreign policy chief, said as he made his way to the foreign ministers’ meeting that “for the time being we need to stop any kind of flow of arms to Turkey.”

“We don’t have magic powers, but the E.U. will put all pressure possible in order to stop this,” Mr. Borrell said.

Known for frankness that at times is considered undiplomatic, Mr. Borrell pointed to the United States’ decision to withdraw as the reason behind the situation unfolding in Syria.

“If American troops had not withdrawn, this attack would not have been possible,” Mr. Borrell said.

The United States had no greater ally in driving out the Islamic State militants who claimed vast swathes of Syria in the quest for a modern-day caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F.

Inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its American military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their strongholds.

But another United States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across their southern border and saw not an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia’s ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, the S.D.F. has turned its attention away from the Islamic State, including those militants captured during the war and held in detention camps. Already, some ISIS members said to have escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen “high value” detainees to the United States from Syria never happened.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeper cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

KURDISH

Control

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Deir al-Zour

Albu Kamal

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anna Momigliano, Eric Nagourney, Russell Goldman and Megan Specia.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162683814_d79699bc-2413-4b97-a0bf-2f200a8161b0-articleLarge Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Syrian government troops entered the strategic town of Tel Tamer on Monday.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Syrian Army invaded the town of Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria, state media reported on Monday, soon after the government of President Bashar al-Assad forged an alliance with the Kurdish forces that control the region.

Tel Tamer, a strategic crossroads that connects northeastern Syria with the country’s northern hub, Aleppo, is just 20 miles from Ras al Ain, the center of the Turkish assault.

Tel Tamer was once home to hundreds of Christians before ISIS overran the territory and claimed it as part of its self-declared caliphate in 2015. Kurdish-led fighters repelled the Islamist extremists and had held the town with the backing of American troops until President Trump abruptly withdrew them from the region last week.

Syrian state television showed about half a dozen Syrian soldiers milling around a pickup truck mounted with a machine gun. They were greeted by a small crowd of local residents, some of whom carried portraits of Mr. Assad.

It has been only a week since President Trump pulled back American forces in Syria and effectively gave Turkey the green light to cross the border and pursue its own military agenda. Alliances are shifting, ISIS is reinvigorated and the lives of thousands of civilians are endangered.

Embittered at their abandonment by their American allies, Kurdish leaders adroitly moved to secure a new partner: The government of Bashar al-Assad, an avowed foe of the United States.

Late Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., said they had struck a deal with the Assad government that would allow government forces to enter the Kurdish-controlled northeast of Syria for the first time in years. The commander of the S.D.F. wrote an article for Foreign Policy that explained the reasoning behind the deal.

The commander, Mazloum Abdi, said in the absence of American help against the Turkish invasion, he had no option but to seek help from the Syrian Army and their Russian allies, even though “we do not trust their promises.”

“We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them,” he added. “But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”

Trump administration officials once argued that keeping Mr. Assad’s forces out of the territory was crucial to stemming Iranian and Russian influence in Syria. But with American troops on the way out, Washington has lost its leverage.

“The worst thing in military logic and comrades in the trench is betrayal,” said one official allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Some American military members who had worked closely with the Kurdish militia were also appalled.

“They trusted us and we broke that trust,” said one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria. “It’s a stain on the American conscience.”

Advisers to the Turkish president said Monday morning that the Turkish Army would press on with its incursion, despite the deal brokered between Kurdish forces and the Syrian government on Sunday.

The official Turkish explanation for the offensive was to clear the area of the Kurdish-led militia that has close ties with a terrorist group that is banned in Turkey.

At the start of the invasion, Turkish officials said they respected Syrian sovereignty.

But on Monday, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, said on Twitter that “the fact that Syrian Army has made a deal” with the Kurdish militia “will not stop Turkey’s antiterror operation.”

A second presidential adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, later tweeted that “Turkey will not stop until we reach our goals.” Turkish officials have previously promised to create a buffer zone along the length of its border with Syria, roughly 20 miles deep.

The United States had no greater ally in driving out the Islamic State militants who claimed vast swathes of Syria in the quest for a modern-day caliphate than the coalition of fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F.

Inch by inch, the Kurdish-led militia, working with its American military partners, drove ISIS militants out of their strongholds.

But another United States ally viewed the militia much less fondly: Turkey. Its leaders looked across their southern border and saw not an ally but a threat to its territorial integrity, given the militia’s ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

With Turkish-led forces now threatening the Kurds, the S.D.F. has turned its attention away from the Islamic State, including those militants captured during the war and held in detention camps. Already, some ISIS members said to have escaped, along with hundreds of their family members. A planned transfer of five dozen “high value” detainees to the United States from Syria never happened.

Between escaped ISIS members and the Islamist sleeper cells believed to have been left behind when the militants were defeated in Syria, there is concern that the world has not seen the last of the extremist group.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

KURDISH

Control

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Deir al-Zour

Albu Kamal

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Army Moves into Border Town United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Russia Kurds Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

ISIS members’ families escape from detention.

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall, Ben Hubbard, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Patrick Kingsley, Hwaida Saad, Eric Nagourney and Russell Goldman.

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Alicia Kearns: Ten actions we can and should take to help the Kurds

Alicia Kearns is an expert in counter-terrorism, and formerly worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Mitcham and Morden in 2017.

Amidst the anger about the Erdogan-Assad offensive in North East Syria, there has been very little discussion about what the UK can and should do to support the Kurds.

Sixty thousand Kurdish people took up arms to fight Daesh, and at least 11,000 of them paid for our safety with their lives. We would not have secured victory without them. They liberated tens of thousands of square miles from Manbij to Raqqa and Baghouz, freeing millions of people from Daesh occupation. They fought street by street to save Christians, Yazidis and Arabs and give them refuge.

The offensive is not a response to a threat faced by Turkey. It is an attempt to eradicate the Kurdish people, who are trapped by the ambitions of two countries that are ruthless in their desire to gain territory, and will crush anyone who opposes them. This action will benefit Daesh and undermine efforts to stabilise Iraq and Syria.

Decision-making is in the hands of those on the ground, and the UK’s role is limited, as we will not and cannot put our own people into this theatre, but we must do what we can. Here are a few steps we could take.

  • Call for an immediate ceasefire

While it is unlikely that Turkey and Syria will respect such a call, we must exert all possible pressure. A no-fly zone is unlikely to work, as it would need to be policed by Coalition forces, of which Turkey is a member. The next question is whether Russian airplanes would be deployed. A ceasefire is the most practical option, although one is unlikely to be agreed in the immediate future.

  • Minimise civilian casualties

The UK and our partners urgently need to secure agreements from Turkey to protect civilian life. Displacement has begun, with communities fleeing their villages and reports of civilian deaths caused by indiscriminate bombing. This area is home to two to three million people who have already suffered enough. Turkey has simultaneously launched this offensive and tightened its borders to prevent refugees from fleeing to what has been their only safe destination. Civilians are trapped with no escape, which is why, if we cannot secure a ceasefire, the parameters of Turkey’s offensive must be agreed quickly, and humanitarian access provided

  • Limit the offensive’s parameters

Turkey must commit to strike only internationally agreed and intelligence-based ‘military’ targets. Erdogan uses the terms ‘militants’, ‘terror corridor’ and ‘militia’ – vague words which give him maximum freedom to operate. Whilst the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistani (PKK) is proscribed by the UK and the US, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) must also be declared a non-targets. Beyond this, we should push Turkey to declare a time-bound offensive.

  • Join International Punitive Actions against Turkey

If Turkey will not agree to recognise the SDF as friendly forces, and targets them, we should support sanctions and other activities against it that could help save our allies, the SDF, and civilians across north east Syria.

  • Flex our diplomatic muscle

The UK should provide a voice for the Kurdish people at NATO, the UN, and in diplomatic discussions. I welcome the news that the UK and France have called for a Security Council meeting but, over the last few years, the UN has shown itself to be ineffective in addressing conflict, particularly in the Middle East. We should deploy our diplomatic network to advocate for the Kurds. I hope, since that this incursion was long-anticipated, that the Foreign Office has already developed plans to support the Kurdish people.

  • Review our posture on Turkey

There was no imminent threat to Turkey from Kurds in north eastern Syria. We want it to be a productive partner, to improve relations with it and to keep it turned westwards. But this cannot be done at any cost, and certainly not by overlooking offensives like this. Turkey has a right to protect itself, but this action was not precipitated by any threat. Erdogan has long had ambitions to extend his territory into Syria. Turkey must respect international rules. This is not what we are seeing in Syria, nor in other actions by Turkey, such as threatening Greece. We must now consider how we can help create an exit strategy for Turkey before it has even more tragic consequences.

We must also recognise that Russia is an important player, and that its continued support for the Assad regime and overtures to Turkey have emboldened Erdogan. Russia’s stated strategic objectives include creating division amongst NATO partners: we must not assist them with this aim.

  • Take a position on the Kurdish people

For too long, we have avoided having a meaningful foreign policy about the Kurdish people. We should commit to a supportive position and be open about it. We have long been friends to them. If you go to Kurdistan in Iraq you will hear many Kurds speaking perfect English with South London accents, from their time living in the UK as refugees from the longstanding persecution they have faced and the Anfal genocide.

  • Prevent the forcible return of refugees to north east Syria

Turkey has been generous in hosting refugees. Now we must prevent Turkey from forcibly returning three million Syrian refugees to North East Syria during or after this offensive. It is not safe for refugees to return to Syria, as they will face persecution from the Assad regime. Nor is it right to forcibly move refugees to an area from which they do not emanate or to forcibly change the ethnic make-up of an area.

  • Focus on the threat

Daesh has been defeated, but it still exists as an ideology that can and will recruit followers. It still operates as an insurgent force on the borders between Iraq and Syria. The SDF are holding around 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters, 9,000 Syrian and Iraqi Daesh fighters, and tens of thousands of Daesh family members in camps and prisons. The prisons are under great pressure. There have been violent attacks within them, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Daesh’s Caliph) has called for supporters to organise prison breaks.

Turkey took advantage of US withdrawal, and now Daesh will exploit the compromised position of the Kurds. How do we expect the Kurds to maintain the security of prisons while under air attack from Turkey? The UK should use its significant influence in the Coalition to lead discussions amongst its 80 plus members on how to stop this offensive, which is undermining its work to defeat violent extremists in the region over the last few years.

  • Criticise Withdrawal

A friendship is strong when one can disagree respectfully with an ally’s decision. This offensive began just days after Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of troops. This decision gave the green light to Erdogan and Assad to begin their action.

Whilst we all understand the reasons for moving troops out, a lesson from history in the Middle East is that withdrawal at the wrong time can be catastrophic. This decision throws into jeopardy the likelihood of any future forces trusting the US and, potentially, others. Turkey grasped its opportunity, and our allies, whom we committed to protect, will pay the price.

– – –

The vulnerability of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish people is not new. We must stand by our allies and friends: words are not enough. As Conservatives we believe in self-determination, fairness, loyalty, and decency. If we desert the Kurds now, we cease to be that of which we are so proud.

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How Times Reporters Proved Russia Bombed Syrian Hospitals

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

“Srabota,” the Russian pilot said.

The Russian phrase, which directly translates as “it’s worked,” was confirmation that he had released his weapon on a target in Syria: Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital near the town of Haas in Idlib Province.

Beginning in 2017, The Times’s Visual Investigations team has tracked the repeated bombing of hospitals in Syria, an apparent strategy of the Syrian military and Russia, its ally. More than 50 health care facilities have been attacked since the end of April in an offensive to reclaim Idlib Province from militants opposed to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, according to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

[Read and see our investigation into Russia’s bombing of Syrian hospitals.]

Our team combines traditional reporting with advanced digital forensics to understand major events in conflicts that Times reporters can’t access on the ground, like a chemical attack in Syria or an American airstrike in Afghanistan.

Finding visual evidence of Syrian hospitals that were badly damaged was not hard. We collected hundreds of photos and videos from Facebook groups and Telegram channels, two places on social media where Syrian journalists and citizens had shared hours of footage. Along with medical and relief organizations, users on those platforms sent us even more documentation, including internal reports and unpublished videos.

While Russia has long been suspected of being behind these hospital bombings, direct evidence of its involvement was difficult to find, and Russian officials have denied responsibility.

During our investigation, we obtained tens of thousands of previously unpublished audio recordings between Russian Air Force pilots and ground control officers in Syria. We also obtained months of flight data logged by a network of Syrian observers who have been tracking warplanes to warn civilians of impending airstrikes. The flight observations came with the time, location and general type of each aircraft spotted.

Could these communications, each only a few seconds long and riddled with seemingly indecipherable military jargon and code words, be direct evidence of Russia’s violating one of the oldest rules of war?

ImageWestlake Legal Group 13insider-syria-hospitals-sheet-articleLarge How Times Reporters Proved Russia Bombed Syrian Hospitals your-feed-visual-investigations War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity United Nations Syria Security Council (UN) Russia Military Aircraft Idlib (Syria) Human Rights and Human Rights Violations hospitals Hama (Syria) Defense and Military Forces Civilian Casualties Assad, Bashar al-

Times reporters spent weeks translating and deciphering code words to understand how Russian pilots carry out airstrikes in Syria. This spreadsheet shows part of the communication between one pilot, identified as “48,” and the ground controller, “Fuse,” during a strike on Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital.CreditThe New York Times

We needed to verify and match the Russian communications and flight logs with the other airstrike information we had gotten, including satellite images and doctors’ witness statements. Deciphering the communications and finding the precise time and location of each hospital strike proved to be the key.

We had months of data but decided to focus on May 5 and 6, when four hospitals had been bombed. Each was on a United Nations-sponsored “deconfliction list” meant to spare it from attack, according to the World Health Organization.

We eventually saw patterns in the data. The clearer the picture got, the more damning it became for Russia.

We then organized and merged all of this information into a spreadsheet database. A data analyst in our Graphics department, Quoctrung Bui, designed a tool that allowed us to filter and search thousands of data points by time and place.

For each airstrike, we examined the evidence recorded at the time of the attack: Were Russian Air Force aircraft in the air? Were they spotted near hospitals? What were they talking about on the intercepted audio?

In the case of Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, which had been bombed repeatedly and restored with help from the W.H.O. in March, local news coverage and incident reports placed the time of the attack at about 5:30 p.m. on May 5.

Witnesses are often central to estimating timing, so we spoke to a doctor who was working at Kafr Nabl when it was hit. He said the hospital was first struck at 5:30 p.m., with three more airstrikes following five minutes apart.

Local media activists started filming after the first strike. Four of them caught the next strike on video. Did they all show the same airstrike? Or multiple ones — perhaps even four, as the doctor described?

To find out, we needed to know whether the videos were filmed in Kafr Nabl. Using Google Earth, we labeled landmarks, like a minaret and a water tower, and kept track of the nearby hills and mountain ridge.

This practice, known as geolocation, can determine the exact site of a photo or video by using landmarks and geographical features and corroborating them with satellite imagery. We managed to geolocate all of the videos and determined that the explosions all happened at Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital.

We then analyzed the explosions and smoke patterns. After going through each video frame by frame and lining up several videos next to each other, we realized we had footage of three different strikes from multiple angles.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 13vid-idlib-insider-still-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600-v2 How Times Reporters Proved Russia Bombed Syrian Hospitals your-feed-visual-investigations War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity United Nations Syria Security Council (UN) Russia Military Aircraft Idlib (Syria) Human Rights and Human Rights Violations hospitals Hama (Syria) Defense and Military Forces Civilian Casualties Assad, Bashar al-

Videos filmed by media activists in Syria capture the moment of an airstrike on Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital on May 5, 2019. The World Health Organization-supported hospital was bombed four times in eighteen minutes.CreditCreditClockwise from top left: Halab Today TV, Hadi Alabdallah, Euphrates Post, via Facebook. Composite image: Dave Horn/The New York Times.

An analysis of the shadows in the video allowed us to estimate the times of the strikes. But to get the exact time, we asked local journalists and news agencies to send their footage so we could use the files’ metadata to see when each strike hit the hospital, down to the second: 5:36:12, 5:41:14 and 5:49:17 p.m.

We knew that at least three, possibly four, airstrikes had hit the hospital. But we didn’t have a culprit. The flight logs and videos of the aircraft above Kafr Nabl that day didn’t have the key either. Both Russian and Syrian air forces had been active. It was a perfectly ambiguous situation: We didn’t know who bombed the hospital, but it must have been one of the two.

Credit

But the Russian Air Force communications provided the clearest evidence of Russia’s responsibility because we had the exact time of the explosions from the video metadata. A Russian pilot released four weapons at those very times.

The pilot, who identifies himself as “72,” says “Srabota” at 5:30 p.m. He repeats that five minutes later, at 5:35 p.m. — and at 5:40 and 5:48 p.m. Four weapon releases in all, each about five minutes apart and about some 40 seconds before the time of impact we had calculated from video metadata.

Because the hospital was dug deep under its original building after repeated bombings, only one person was killed. Many others were injured.

We saw three other instances when the Russian Air Force “worked” on hospitals over a period of 12 hours in early May. The evidence was clear in each case. Less than a day of air activity in a four-year-old Russian air war paints a damning picture for a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Reporting was contributed by Quoctrung Bui, John Ismay and Haley Willis.

Graphics by Dave Horn. Video credits: Halab Today TV, Hadi Alabdallah, Euphrates Post (via Facebook) and Syria Call.

Follow the @ReaderCenter on Twitter for more coverage highlighting your perspectives and experiences and for insight into how we work.

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In Just 12 Hours, Russia Bombed Four Syrian Hospitals. We Have Proof.

Westlake Legal Group vid-syria-hospitals-1-videoSixteenByNine1050 In Just 12 Hours, Russia Bombed Four Syrian Hospitals. We Have Proof. your-feed-visual-investigations War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Syria Russia hospitals Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-
By EVAN HILL, CHRISTIAAN TRIEBERT, MALACHY BROWNE, DMITRIY KHAVIN, DREW JORDAN and WHITNEY HURST | Oct. 13, 2019 | 7:58

The Times obtained thousands of air force recordings, which reveal for the first time that Russia repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria.

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12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia.

The Russian Air Force has repeatedly bombed hospitals in Syria in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar al-Assad, according to an investigation by The New York Times.

An analysis of previously unpublished Russian Air Force radio recordings, plane spotter logs and witness accounts allowed The Times to trace bombings of four hospitals in just 12 hours in May and tie Russian pilots to each one.

The 12-hour period beginning on May 5 represents a small slice of the air war in Syria, but it is a microcosm of Russia’s four-year military intervention in Syria’s civil war. A new front in the conflict opened this week, when Turkish forces crossed the border as part of a campaign against a Kurdish-led militia.

Russia has long been accused of carrying out systematic attacks against hospitals and clinics in rebel-held areas as part of a strategy to help Mr. Assad secure victory in the eight-year-old war.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159390756_5a5f5fc5-913f-4700-8e83-11e78b890fa3-articleLarge 12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia. your-feed-visual-investigations War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity United Nations Syria Security Council (UN) Russia Politics and Government Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital Military Aircraft Kafr Zita Cave Hospital Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital Idlib (Syria) Human Rights and Human Rights Violations hospitals Defense and Military Forces Civilian Casualties Assad, Bashar al- Al Amal Orthopedic Hospital

For years, Russia has been accused of attacking hospitals and clinics as part of a strategy to help President Bashar al-Assad of Syria secure victory in the civil war.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group that tracks attacks on medical workers in Syria, has documented at least 583 such attacks since 2011, 266 of them since Russia intervened in September 2015. At least 916 medical workers have been killed since 2011.

The Times assembled a large body of evidence to analyze the hospital bombings on May 5 and 6.

Social media posts from Syria, interviews with witnesses, and records from charities that supported the four hospitals provided the approximate time of each strike. The Times obtained logs kept by flight spotters on the ground who warn civilians about incoming airstrikes and crosschecked the time of each strike to confirm that Russian warplanes were overhead. We then listened to and deciphered thousands of Russian Air Force radio transmissions, which recorded months’ worth of pilot activities in the skies above northwestern Syria. The recordings were provided to The Times by a network of observers who insisted on anonymity for their safety.

The spotter logs from May 5 and 6 put Russian pilots above each hospital at the time they were struck, and the Air Force audio recordings from that day feature Russian pilots confirming each bombing. Videos obtained from witnesses and verified by The Times confirmed three of the strikes.

Recklessly or intentionally bombing hospitals is a war crime, but proving culpability amid a complex civil war is extremely difficult, and until now, Syrian medical workers and human rights groups lacked proof.

Russia’s position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has shielded it from scrutiny and made United Nations agencies reluctant to accuse the Russian Air Force of responsibility.

“The attacks on health in Syria, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of civilian facilities, are definitely war crimes, and they should be prosecuted at the level of the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of policy at Physicians for Human Rights. But Russia and China “shamefully” vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have referred those and other crimes in Syria to the court, she said.

The Russian government did not directly respond to questions about the four hospital bombings. Instead, a Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed to past statements saying that the Russian Air Force carries out precision strikes only on “accurately researched targets.”

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, opened an investigation into the hospital bombings in August. The investigation, still going on, is meant in part to determine why hospitals that voluntarily added their locations to a United Nations-sponsored deconfliction list, which was provided to Russia and other combatants to prevent them from being attacked, nevertheless came under attack.

Syrian health care workers said they believed that the United Nations list actually became a target menu for the Russian and Syrian air forces.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the secretary general, said in September that the investigation — an internal board of inquiry — would not produce a public report or identify “legal responsibility.” Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian permanent representative to the United Nations, cast doubt on the process shortly after it was announced, saying he hoped the inquiry would not investigate perpetrators but rather what he said was the United Nations’ use of false information in its deconfliction process.

From April 29 to mid-September, as Russian and Syrian government forces assaulted the last rebel pocket in the northwest, 54 hospitals and clinics in opposition territory were attacked, the United Nations human rights office said. At least seven had tried to protect themselves by adding their location to the deconfliction list, according to the World Health Organization.

On May 5 and 6, Russia attacked four. All were on the list.

The first was Nabad al Hayat Surgical Hospital, a major underground trauma center in southern Idlib Province serving about 200,000 people. The hospital performed on average around 500 operations and saw more than 5,000 patients a month, according to Syria Relief and Development, the United States-based charity that supported it.

Nabad al Hayat had been attacked three times since it opened in 2013 and had recently relocated to an underground complex on agricultural land, hoping to be protected from airstrikes.

At 2:32 p.m. on May 5, a Russian ground control officer can be heard in an Air Force transmission providing a pilot with a longitude and latitude that correspond to Nabad al Hayat’s exact location.

At 2:38 p.m., the pilot reports that he can see the target and has the “correction,” code for locking the target on a screen in his cockpit. Ground control responds with the green light for the strike, saying, “Three sevens.”

At the same moment, a flight spotter on the ground logs a Russian jet circling in the area.

At 2:40 p.m., the same time the charity said that Nabad al Hayat was struck, the pilot confirms the release of his weapons, saying, “Worked it.” Seconds later, local journalists filming the hospital in anticipation of an attack record three precision bombs penetrating the roof of the hospital and blowing it out from the inside in geysers of dirt and concrete.

The staff of Nabad al Hayat had evacuated three days earlier after receiving warnings and anticipating a bombing, but Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, three miles northwest, was not as lucky.

A doctor who worked there said that the hospital was struck four times, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The strikes landed about five minutes apart, without warning, he said, killing a man who was standing outside and forcing patients and members of the medical staff to use oxygen tanks to breathe through the choking dust.

A spotter logged a Russian jet circling above at the time of the strike, and in another Russian Air Force transmission, a pilot reports that he has “worked” his target at 5:30 p.m., the time of the strike. He then reports three more strikes, each about five minutes apart, matching the doctor’s chronology.

Russian pilots bombed two other hospitals in the same 12-hour span: Kafr Zita Cave Hospital and Al Amal Orthopedic Hospital. In both cases, spotters recorded Russian Air Force jets in the skies at the time of the strike, and Russian pilots can be heard in radio transmissions “working” their targets at the times the strikes were reported.

Since May 5, at least two dozen hospitals and clinics in the rebel-held northwest have been hit by airstrikes. Syrian medical workers said they expected hospital bombings to continue, given the inability of the United Nations and other countries to find a way to hold Russia to account.

“The argument by the Russians or the regime is always that hospitals are run by terrorists,” said Nabad al Hayat’s head nurse, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared being targeted. “Is it really possible that all the people are terrorists?”

“The truth is that after hospitals are hit, and in areas like this where there is just one hospital, our houses have become hospitals.”

Reporting was contributed by Dmitriy Khavin, Whitney Hurst, Malachy Browne, Quoctrung Bui and John Ismay.

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