ANKARA, August 12 -- The Turkish state can’t tolerate the gains by people of North and East Syria, or the democratic system they built, so they aim to invade the area under the guise of a “safe zone”.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu continued to issue threats of invasion against North and East Syria. Cavuşoğlu said: “What we say about the east of the Euphrates is this: We will either clear the area together, or Turkey will enter and clear away the terrorists. Like they were cleared from Afrin, like ISIS was cleared from Jarablus, we will clear the east of the Euphrates from YPG and PKK. Whatever the price may be. There is no change in our resolve here. We won’t let the US delay things like Manbij. We say this clearly, and we told them the same.” The Turkish state can’t tolerate the gains by people of North and East Syria, or the democratic system they built, so they aim to invade the area under the guise of a “safe zone”. North and East Syrian officials see Turkey’s insistence on a 32 km deep safe zone as an attempt to massacre the peoples of the region and to invade the area as a whole, and counter-propose patrols along the border under supervision by the international coalition, outside residential areas. North and East Syrian officials warn that a possible Turkish state attack will make the control of thousands of ISIS members in prisons difficult and risk subjecting the region and the world to terrorist attacks. They also say they will resist to the end.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Islamic State is reinvesting in its ability to carry out sophisticated operations from Europe to South Asia by the end of 2019, a United Nations report has found.
“The ISIS covert network in the Syrian Arab Republic is spreading, and cells are being established at the provincial level, mirroring that which has been happening since 2017 in Iraq,” the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said. In the near term, the Islamic State will rely on locally-planned attacks in “unexpected locations,” similar to the Easter bombings carried out in Sri Lanka, they assessed. But the report, presented to the Security Council in July, warns that externally-planned attacks in high profile locations could ramp up as early as four months from now. “ISIS will reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks when it has the secure space and time to do so. The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” it said. Tens of thousands of Islamic State loyalists and their children are now corralled in desert camps in northeastern Syria, where they were detained by US-backed Kurdish forces following the surrender of the last pocket of the caliphate in March. Neighboring Turkey has now threatened to seize the area from the Kurds – raising the possibility that some of Islamic State’s most hardcore members could escape.
Get out of jail
The UN report estimates that up to 30,000 foreign nationals who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the caliphate are still alive, whether at large in the region, detained or relocated to Europe. These caliphate veterans now pose a radicalization threat, whether in prison or out. “The radicalization of criminals within the prison system remains a critical concern in Europe, where prisons provide a venue for inmates afflicted by poverty, marginalization, frustration, low self-esteem and violence to be influenced by radical ideologies,” it said. “In addition, some of the first wave of returnees from the ‘caliphate’ to be imprisoned are expected to be released in the coming year.” The monitoring team which carried out the report emphasized that data on the exact number of repatriations of foreign fighters to Europe and other regions remains sketchy. Approximately 2,000 nationals from the former Soviet states are now detained in northeastern Syria. Central Asian nations including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan cite their own citizens returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq are currently their primary terrorist threat. Central Asian migrant laborer communities in Russia and Turkey are also seen as particularly vulnerable to recruitment. The report also flags South and Southeast Asia as prime targets for Islamic State returnees, as evidenced by both successful and thwarted attacks. “Two troubling trends observed are the targeting of places of worship and the continued prominence of women in operational activities,” it said. Both returnees and attempted jihadists have been linked to attacks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Islamic State has been resourceful in financing its activities post-caliphate, the report found, using small and medium-sized business to generate revenue, offering “seed money” to new affiliates and stashing valuable antiquities for a rainy day. “One Member State described ISIS affiliates being treated in a manner similar to start-up businesses, receiving ‘seed money’ and advice from head office,” it said. The group is estimated to have anywhere from US$50-300 million at its disposal to carry out its activities. However, “the group is adapting to its insurgency role with far fewer demands on its financial holdings.” The UN investigators learned that monetary transfers persist, with family members of active militants using personal or small business bank accounts in countries neighboring a given conflict zone – the cash then passed on by courier. Mobile payment applications and crypto currencies are cited as ripe for exploitation. A special ISIS unit – the ministry of “natural resources” – is believed to be responsible for the sale of antiquities which the group had excavated in Iraq and Syria. “Details of traded antiquities, as well as the current location of any stored antiquities, are assessed to be known only by ISIS leaders.” Preserving that leadership, at the top of which is self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains the primary concern of the group.
ISTANBUL, June 24 -- In a major blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu has declared victory in the rerun of Istanbul's mayoral election, after initial results showed he was set for a clear win.
Imamoglu had won 54 percent of votes with almost all of the ballot boxes opened on Sunday, with the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) candidate trailing on 45 percent and conceding defeat. Imamoglu promised a "new beginning" for Turkey's largest city and commercial hub. "You have protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey," he told supporters. His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded defeat after initial results showed he was set to lose by a decisive margin. "According to the result as of now, my competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is leading the race. I congratulate him and wish him good luck," Yildirim said. CHP's projected win in the Istanbul election ends the 17-year rule by the AK Party in the metropolis. The Istanbul mayoral election was first held on March 31, when Imamoglu secured 48.8 percent of the vote, while the AK Party's Yildirim held 48.55 percent, granting Imamoglu the title of mayor with a razor-thin margin. The AK Party proceeded to file an "extraordinary objection" to the results, leading the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) to annul the results and schedule Sunday's rerun.
DEN HAAG, June 11 -- Two Dutch-Belgian orphans of Islamic State fighters were amongst a group of fourteen others to have been flown into Europe from Syria on Monday, according to reports.
A French military airplane carrying two Dutch-Belgian children and twelve French orphans landed in a Paris airport on Monday. The orphans lived in the Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, close to the country’s Turkish border, and were said to be in a “particularly vulnerable” situation. The two orphans are thought to be the children of a late Antillean-Dutch woman and a now-deceased Belgian Islamic State (IS) fighter. Dutch authorities were present when the airplane landed in Paris, and will reportedly entrust both children to a Dutch guardian. The French orphans will be handed over to social security services in the country. Around 250 children are thought to be still living in refugee camps and other locations across Syria, according to Reuters. In May, a group of academics signed an open letter calling for Belgium to honour a 2017 commitment to repatriate the orphans of all jihadist fighters. That year, a court ruling had obliged Belgium to repatriate all orphans under the age of ten. With the recent repatriations, France has now brought back 17 IS orphans from Syria.
DAMASCUS, June 10 -- Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined Islamic State.
France and the Netherlands have taken custody of 14 French and Dutch orphans of Islamic State (IS) fighters in northeast Syria, an official in the Kurdish-led administration there said on Monday. Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined IS and their relatives after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the group's last enclave earlier this year. Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of the foreign relations committee of the administration that runs the northeastern quarter of Syria held by the SDF, said it had handed over the children to foreign ministry delegations from France and the Netherlands. France took back 12 orphaned French children from IS families and the Netherlands took back two Dutch orphans, he said in Tweets. Last week, the Kurdish-led authorities said they had repatriated two US women along with six children. Few countries have yet seemed willing to take back their citizens, who may be hard to prosecute. The Kurdish-led administration and the SDF have said they cannot indefinitely hold thousands of foreigners, but no clear international policy has emerged over how to handle the issue. Many of the relatives of captured IS fighters are located in al-Hol, a camp for displaced people where aid agencies have warned of dire humanitarian conditions.
Under British and international law, it is illegal to make an individual stateless. Britain, however, can make its citizens stateless if they have dual nationality. Critics of the move claim that Javid made the decision to revoke Begum's citizenship because she would be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship because of her parents' heritage. The Bangladesh government has rejected the UK claim that she is a Bangladesh citizen.
On Sunday, one of Britain's most senior judges questioned Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her British citizenship. Jonathan Sumption, who retired as a justice of the Supreme Court in December, indicated that the Home Secretary may have broken international law with his actions. Speaking on the BBC's Reith Lecture, Lord Sumption said: "I am frankly surprised at the suggestion that she can be regarded as the citizen of a country with which she has never had anything to do [with], but that is the government's position and I have no doubt it will be tested in the courts in due course." Asked if the removal of citizenship also meant a person lost their standing under human rights, Lord Sumption said: "What they lose is their citizenship. That doesn't necessarily deprive them of their standing when it comes to human rights. "I have no problem with the notion of depriving people of their citizenship who have gone abroad to fight in foreign wars save this. "It's an established principle of international law that you cannot deprive somebody of his or her citizenship if the result would be to render them stateless. "And whatever they may have done in Syria or anywhere else, that rule has always been applied and will no doubt be applied in this case." Two independent legal challenges have been launched in response to Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her citizenship.
DAMASCUS, March 23 -- U.S.-backed forces said they had captured Islamic State's last shred of territory in eastern Syria at Baghouz on Saturday, ending the group's self-proclaimed caliphate after years of fighting.
"Baghouz has been liberated. The military victory against Daesh has been accomplished," Mustafa Bali, a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman, wrote on Twitter, declaring the "total elimination of (the) so-called caliphate".
However, a Reuters journalist at Baghouz said there were still some sounds of shooting and mortar fire. The final battle lasted weeks as huge numbers of civilians poured out, and for many Kurdish fighters in the SDF, victory was sweeter as it coincided with their "Now Ruz" new year. Though the defeat of Islamic State in Baghouz ends the group's grip over the jihadist quasi-state straddling Syria and Iraq that it declared in 2014, it remains a threat. Some of its fighters still hold out in Syria's remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again. The United States believes the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq. He stood at the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself caliph, sovereign over all Muslims. Further afield, jihadists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere have shown no sign of recanting their allegiance to Islamic State, and intelligence services say its devotees in the West might plot new attacks. Still, the fall of Baghouz is a big milestone in a fight against the jihadist group waged by numerous local and global forces - some of them sworn enemies - over more than four years. It also marks a big moment in Syria's eight-year war, wiping out the territory of one of the main contestants, with the rest split between President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey-backed rebels and the Kurdish-led SDF.
Assad and his Iranian allies have sworn to recapture all Syria, and Turkey has threatened to drive out the SDF, which it sees as a terrorist group, by force. The continued presence of U.S. troops in northeast Syria might avert this. Islamic State originated as an al Qaeda faction in Iraq, but it took advantage of Syria's civil war to seize land there and split from the global jihadist organisation. In 2014, it suddenly grabbed Iraq's Mosul, one of the region's great historic cities, as well as Syria's Raqqa, and swathes of land each side of the border. It declared an end to modern countries and called on supporters to leave their homes and join the jihadist utopia it claimed to be erecting, trumpeting its currency, flag, passports and military parades. Oil production, extortion and stolen antiquities financed its agenda, which included slaughtering some minorities, public slave auctions of captured women, grotesque punishments for minor crimes and the choreographed killing of hostages. Those excesses brought an array of forces against it, forcing it from Mosul and Raqqa in a year of heavy defeats in 2017 and driving it, eventually, down the Euphrates to Baghouz. Over the past two months some 60,000 people poured out of that dwindling enclave, fleeing SDF bombardment and a shortage of food so severe that some said they were reduced to cooking grass. Intense air strikes throughout the campaign have levelled entire districts and rights groups have said they killed many civilians, allegations the coalition has often disputed. A mass grave the SDF discovered last month showed there were other dangers in the enclave, though it has released no details on the identities of the victims or how they died. Civilians made up more than half the people leaving Baghouz, the SDF said, including Islamic State victims such as women from the Iraqi Yazidi sect whom the jihadists had sexually enslaved.
Thousands of the group's unbending supporters also abandoned the enclave while still vowing their allegiance to a ruined caliphate and showing no remorse for its victims. At displacement camps in northeast Syria where they were sent by the SDF, the hardliners, including many foreign women who came to Syria and Iraq to marry jihadists, had to be kept away from other, often traumatized, residents. Their fate has befuddled foreign governments, who see them as a security threat and are loath to accede to SDF entreaties to take them back home.
As the fighting progressed, the convoys of trucks from Baghouz started to include hundreds, and then thousands, of surrendering jihadist fighters, many hobbling from their wounds. The SDF said it captured hundreds more in recent weeks who tried to slip through its cordon and escape into Iraq or across the Euphrates and into the Syrian desert. At the end, they were besieged in a tiny camp full of rusting vehicles and makeshift shelters, pinned against the Euphrates and overlooked by hills held by the SDF. Islamic State released video from inside that squalid, shell-pounded enclave, showing its last fighters still shooting at the SDF as smoke billowed overhead. It was an attempt to shape the narrative of its defeat, portraying it as a heroic last stand against overwhelming odds and a call to arms for future jihadists. But in Baghouz in recent weeks long lines of abject, surrendering fighters sat or squatted in a desolate landscape, their dream of world domination in tatters.
IDLIB, February 28 -- Terrorists of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (terror group) pose a threat to Syria’s stability by conducting events for building up their offensive potential.
"A threat to security and stability in Syria is coming from terrorists of the Nusra-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which controls almost the entire Idlib de-escalation zone. Field commanders are carrying out events on reshaping allied groups with the goals of increasing their offensive capabilities in the directions of Aleppo, Hama and mountainous Latakia," the diplomat stressed. "The militants plan to expand the sphere of their influence and establish full control of Idlib." It's also noted a growing number of ceasefire violations. "Only over the past four days nearly 40 such cases have been recorded, when people died or were wounded," she said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres drew attention to the deplorable situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in his recent report on the humanitarian situation in Syria. Besides concerns over the growing activity of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the report details atrocities of terrorists against civilians, including suppressing ethnic and religious minorities, illegal detentions of civilians and cases when people have gone missing, she noted.
ANKARA, February 18 -- The US may continue to have a military presence in Syria after the withdrawal of troops, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News circulated on Monday.
"Where will they pull out to, will someone else replace them, who will they leave the arms, will their presence continue? When they pull out, their presence will most probably not end, it will continue in some way," Peskov said. "All these questions are on the agenda, the presidents are talking about them. The general attitude is the same, there is no reason for optimism, and uncertainty is troubling. And this situation is not helping the crisis in Syria and hope for a solution at all," the spokesman emphasized.
On December 19, 2018, US President Donald Trump said that the United States had defeated ISIS (Islamic State, a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in Syria, which was the only reason for the US troops being there, so all US troops would be pulled out of Syria. According to US officials, the US would withdraw its entire force of 2,000 service members from Syria within 60 to 100 days.
BEIRUT, February 7 -- Syrian civilians and family members of ISIS jihadists are continuing to flee the last area held by the so-called Islamic State in Syria.
The area is under attack from Kurdish-Syrian forces, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. According to the NGO, hundreds of people are fleeing towards the refugee camp of al Hold in eastern Syria but are in very difficult humanitarian conditions.
Kurdish forces and American soldiers on the ground are separating men from women to try to identify ISIS affiliates among the civilians, including foreign militants from Iraq, other Arab countries as well as Caucasians, Russians and Europeans. (ANSAmed).
BERLIN, February 7 -- An article based on BAMF statistics, there has been a great increase in the number of Turkish citizens who applied for asylum in Germany since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to the statistics, the number of Turks in the applications from Turkey has increased fivefold, surpassing the number of Kurds. The education level of asylum seekers has increased significantly as well, with one out of two applicants having university education. 48% of the asylum seekers in the first half of 2018 hold bachelor's degrees. Interior Ministry's data shows that Turks came in sixth in asylum seekers to Germany in 2018, with 10.655 applicants. This number was 8.483 in 2017. The increase is credited to the political situation in Turkey. The same article says 4.383 Kurds with Turkish citizenship appealed in 2016, when the number of Turks was at 1.197. In 2018, 4.067 Kurds and 5.776 Turks sought asylum in Germany. Another significant point is the rate of approval for asylum claims: %71 of appeals by Turks have been accepted, while the rate remained at 12% for Kurds.