Syrian Regime Escalates Airstrikes Throughout Syria
The Syrian regime has escalated airstrikes on areas throughout Syria held by jihadist militant and rebel groups, Reuters reports.
‘The Syrian air force launched about 1,592 strikes across Syria over the past month, killing at least 396 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Air raid attacks that dropped barrel bombs from warplanes and helicopters wounded at least 1,500 people, according to the group.
The attacks “struck areas in the Hama, Deraa, Idlib, Aleppo and Quneitra provinces as well as the Damascus countryside.”
AFP reports that nine civilians, including a woman, were killed in a Syrian regime air raid on the ISIS stronghold of the city of Raqqa, and a target of U.S.-led airstrikes, on Wednesday.
President Erdogan Criticizes U.S. for Failing to Meet Turkey’s Conditions to Join Anti-ISIS Coalition
On Wednesday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded the U.S. for “failing to meet Turkey’s conditions to play a bigger role in the anti-jihadist coalition in Syria,” ahead of a scheduled visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, AFP reports.
Biden is scheduled to visit Istanbul this Friday for a series of meetings with the goal of establishing common ground with Turkey in the fight against ISIS.
Turkey has said that its condition to playing a larger role in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS is a coherent strategy to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power and the establishment of a buffer zone along its 566-mile border with Syria.
The government would also like the U.S. to help train and equip Free Syrian Army fighters, and has thus far refused to allow U.S. forces to use its strategic Incirlik air base in southern Turkey to carry out raids on Syria,
“From the no-fly zone to the safety zone, and training and equipping, all these steps have to be taken now. But the coalition forces haven’t taken the steps we asked them for or suggested to them,” Erdogan was quoted as saying to reporters.
“At the moment, we’re not considering a no-fly zone or a buffer zone,” according to comments on the White House website. The meeting will concentrate on “coping with the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflicts on Turkey’s southern border,” and “countering the threat posed by foreign fighters.”
On Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, warned that the country could “face an influx of 2-3 million more Syrian refugees if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces or Islamic State insurgents advance around Aleppo.”
In early October, 180,000 Syrian refugees fled into southern Turkey following fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani, marking the largest displacement in the Syrian conflict.
U.S.-Led Coalition Strikes Once Again Hit Khorasan Group
The U.S.-led coalition struck al-Qaida militants in Syria for the fourth time since the U.S. began its broader aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria, AP reports.
The strike hit a storage facility near the town of Harem, a strategically important border town because “it lies on a chief smuggling route … from northwestern Turkey.”
The strike “destroyed a storage facility associated with a network of veteran al-Qaida operatives, sometimes called the ‘Khorasan Group,’ whose members are plotting external attacks against the United States and its allies,” according to a statement by U.S. Central Command.
The Pentagon was very careful to specify that the Khorasan Group were the intended target.
“These strikes were not in response to the Nusra Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusra Front as a whole,” Centcom said in a statement.
According to activists and rebels inside Syria, the Khorasan Group and Jabhat al-Nusra are one entity, and attacks against Jabhat al-Nusra have hurt moderate rebels and put inter-rebel relations under enormous strain.
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