Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

Media captionAnti-Erdogan demonstrators are punched as they are removed from a New York hotel

Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of “terrorist”.

Mr Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators.

“You’re a terrorist, get out of my country,” one protester shouted before he was punched and dragged away.

Mr Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly.

A protester is removed from a New York room during a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyrightVOA

In footage from the speech on Thursday, protesters are seen being pushed and punched in the head as they are ejected from the venue by suited men.

It is not clear at this stage if they were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the hotel.

The demonstrators, who later posted images of the clashes on social media, said their aim was to publicly condemn the president’s policies in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Some protesters carried flags and banners in support of the Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Mr Erdogan sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. He has repeatedly said that he will never accept a US alliance with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a thumbs up to supporters outside of The Peninsula hotel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPresident Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly

Supporters of Mr Erdogan can be heard shouting the president’s name in the footage, in attempts to muffle the protesters’ chants.

One protester, Meghan Bodette, wrote on Twitter that she had been “thrown out” of the hotel.

“Yes. I stood up with YPJ flag… was pulled from chair and removed,” she wrote, adding: “I got escorted out and ran, some friends were briefly questioned.”

The YPJ is an all-female Kurdish military group – the women’s equivalent of the YPG.

Another Twitter user, Gissur Simonarson‏, posted images taken from amateur video footage showing a number of protesters being violently attacked.

One eyewitness, Halil Demir, said he saw a man being pushed to the ground after interrupting Mr Erdogan’s speech. Mr Demir said he later saw a second man outside the hotel in handcuffs on the floor, the New York Times reports.

Mr Erdogan was speaking at the invitation of the Turkish American National Steering Committee.

The New York Police Department said that about five protesters had been “briefly detained” but that no arrests were made.

In May, eleven people were injured and two arrested outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington DC, after a brawl broke out between supporters and opponents of Mr Erdogan.

The US summoned the Turkish ambassador over the incident, which Washington police called a “brutal attack on peaceful protesters”.

The Turkish embassy denied that, saying the demonstrators had aggressively provoked Turkish-Americans gathering to greet Mr Erdogan, and that they had responded in self-defense.

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara and Washington can join forces to turn ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria into a “graveyard” for the jihadists.

“The huge America, the coalition and Turkey can join hands and turn Raaqa into a graveyard for ISIS,” Erdogan told an Istanbul meeting.

“They will look for a place for themselves to hide,” he said.

Erdogan’s comments come ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump on May 16 in Washington.

Erdogan said Friday that Washington’s support for Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria damaged “the spirit of solidarity” with Turkey, but that he believed a new page would be turned in ties under Trump.

The US believes the YPG is essential in the fight against ISIS.

But Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly insurgency against Ankara since 1984.

Turkey this month announced that it had completed its half-year Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria against jihadists and Kurdish militia, although it is keeping a presence to maintain security in towns now under control of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels.

Ankara is keen to join any US-led operation to clear Raqqa of ISIS jihadists, but without Syrian Kurdish militia forces.

Erdogan on Saturday said he would present Trump at their meeting next month with the “documents” proving YPG’s links to the PKK, which is designated as a terror group by Ankara and Washington.

“We are telling American friends so as not to take a terror group along with them,” the Turkish leader said.
Tension between Turkey and the YPG has been rising. Turkey conducted airstrikes against Kurds in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday, prompting clashes.

Turkey’s military said Saturday that it killed 14 PKK members in air strikes in northern Iraq.

Six fighters were killed around the area of Sinat-Haftan and eight in the countryside around Adiyaman in two separate air strikes, the military said in a statement.

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Turkish Military Bombs U.S. Backed Kurdish Militia Forces Fighting Against ISIS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) The Turkish military on Tuesday killed more than 20 members of Kurdish militia groups, some of which the United States is assisting in the fight against ISIS.

Five of the casualties were among Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, known as Peshmerga.
Others were reported by the YPG, a Kurdish group in northern Syria.
Both groups have proven to be some of the most effective fighting forces on the ground against ISIS. Yet Tuesday’s airstrikes exposed the complicated tangle of Kurdish militant groups in the region, and the tough choices that the United States faces in its regional alliances in the battle against ISIS.
The five Peshmerga fighters were killed apparently in error when Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on nearby positions of another group that Turkey considers to be terrorists, the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, which is usually based in Turkey.
The strikes hit at dawn on Mount Sinjar, west of Mosul, Iraq, according to a spokesman for the Peshmerga ministry.
Nine others were injured and transferred to a nearby hospital. The Peshmerga later released a statement blaming the strikes on the presence of the PKK group, which it said it has long asked to leave the Mount Sinjar area.
“One of our Peshmerga military posts is located very close to the airstrikes and was hit by mistake,” Halgord Hikmat, spokesman for the Peshmerga ministry, told CNN.

YPG calls attack ‘cowardly’

YPG militia members were also killed in Turkish airstrikes Tuesday.
In a statement, the YPG said Turkish planes launched a “large-scale attack” on its headquarters in Mount Karachok near Syria’s border with Turkey, killing “a number of our comrades.”
A YPG spokesman said in a later statement that 20 fighters were killed and 18 others wounded. But it’s not clear if all the dead and injured were members of YPG, or People’s Defense Units.

A YPG fighter surveys the site of Turkish airstrikes Tuesday in northeastern Syria near Turkey.

“We as the People’s Defense Units say that this cowardly attack will not discourage our determination and our free will to fight and confront terrorism,” the YPG said.
The YPG is a key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces — backed by the United States in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Those forces have been closing in on the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa.
But Turkey opposes the YPG because it fears Kurdish separatism.

Turkey says PKK was the target

Turkey’s operations Tuesday were targeting the PKK, which Ankara, the United States and the European Union consider to be a terror group.
For decades, Turkey has been facing a violent insurgency from the PKK — a banned group that first took up arms in 1984 seeking an independent state for the Kurdish minority concentrated in the country’s southeast.
Turkey has often suggested that the PKK and YPG operate closely, although the YPG denies such ties.
Tuesday’s airstrikes were not the first time that Turkish warplanes have targeted PKK positions in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement issued via Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, the Turkish General Staff said the airstrikes hit PKK targets in both countries.
It described the strikes as a “counterterrorism” operation “within the scope of the international law” to prevent the PKK from sending “terrorists, arms, ammunition, and explosives” to Turkey.

Gunman Identified In Istanbul Nightclub Attack, Turkish Authorities Say

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Gunman identified in Istanbul nightclub attack, Turkish authorities say

Story highlights

  • Authorities detain 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday’s attack
  • ISIS claimed responsibility on Twitter, but CNN can’t independently verify it

Istanbul (CNN)Turkish authorities said Wednesday they have identified the gunman who killed 39 people in the New Year’s nightclub terror attack in Istanbul.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu announced the development but did not name the suspect or provide his nationality.
Nightclub attack: Full coverage
  • Victims from 14 countries
  • Dozens killed when gunman opens fire
  • Authorities have also detained 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday morning’s attack at the Reina nightclub, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.
    Counterterrorism officers arrested the suspected militants at four addresses in the Bornova and Buca districts of the Aegean province of Izmir, according to Anadolu. Eleven women were among those arrested.
    Anadolu said those detained are thought to have lived with the attacker in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
    Anadolu also reported that an array of military hardware was discovered during the raids, including night-vision equipment, a sniper scope, an ammunition belt and other items. Twenty children found at the addresses were taken into temporary care.
    Altogether, at least 36 people are being held in connection with the nightclub shooting, though the gunman who carried it out remains at large.
    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to Twitter, but CNN cannot independently verify it. The terror group boasted of carrying out the first major terrorist attack of 2017.

    Suspect seen in selfie video

    On Monday, police released a video that the suspected gunman apparently took of himself in a market near the nightclub.
    The “selfie video” featuring the man in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was first posted on a pro-ISIS Telegram account before Turkish media broadcast it, said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, an American business risk intelligence company tracking terrorist and cyber threats.
    Alkhouri told CNN that such a release suggests the attacker was part of a network supportive of or linked to ISIS, and that he had shared the selfie footage with the terror group before or after the attack.

    Growing threats

    On Tuesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told lawmakers that Turkish security forces had prevented 339 major terror incidents in 2016 — 80 of which came in the final three months of the year.
    In his speech to parliament, Soylu cited attacks launched by the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as those by Daesh, the Arabic term for ISIS.
    Anadolu quoted Soylu as saying that “313 of the incidents were planned by PKK, 22 by Daesh and four by radical leftist groups.”
    He said that 247 improvised explosives and 61 bomb vehicles had been seized in 12 months.
    He also revealed the capture of 23 suicide bomber suspects as well as 42 terrorist group members who were preparing for attacks.
    Both ISIS and Kurdish militants have launched attacks in Turkey, which is reeling from a failed military coup in July.
    On Wednesday, Anadolu reported that authorities arrested four people, including a woman, in connection with a December 17 car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded dozens in the central city of Kayseri.

    Victims from 14 countries

    At least 11 victims in this week’s attack on the upscale nightclub were from Turkey, according to Anadolu, while at least 27 victims hailed from 13 other countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Canada.
    Dozens of people were hospitalized. A handful of the injured were in critical condition.

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman 02:23
    Witnesses described how the New Year’s Eve celebration turned into a bloodbath.
    “We were having fun. At first we thought it was a fight, then there was a lot of gunfire,” Yunus Turk told CNN.
    “After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas.”

    Turkey: Twin Bombs Outside Istanbul Football Stadium Kill Dozens

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

    Turkey: Twin explosions outside football stadium kill 29 in Istanbul

    WORLD Updated: Dec 11, 2016 07:51 IST

    AFP

    Highlight Story

    Smoke rises from a car after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Twenty nine people were killed — mainly police officers — and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul on Saturday after a home football match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

    A car bomb detonated outside the Vodafone Arena football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus after the Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park, officials said.

    The authorities did not say who was behind the blasts but the attacks were the latest in a year that has seen Istanbul and other Turkish cities rocked by a string of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

    The health ministry said in a statement that 15 people were killed and 69 wounded.

    “An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. Besiktas is also the name of the neighbourhood around club’s arena.

    Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

    “We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

    Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said one blast took place outside the stadium and another at Macka Park, a popular meeting place just above the sports venue.

    “The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

    He said the stadium attack targeted a bus of riot police.

    ‘We will stand firm’

    State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

    Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

    An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

    “I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Police and ambulances arrive the scene after a blast in Istanbul. (Reuters Photo)

    Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.

    “Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”

    Police cordoned off the area around the stadium immediately after the blasts, which occurred near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices in Istanbul.

    The scene is also about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the busy Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

    Erdogan was in Istanbul at the time of the blast at his residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.

    The government slapped a broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

    ‘We will defeat terror’

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

    In his statement, Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organisation which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter.

    “Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

    In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming IS.

    Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

    But there have also been deadly bombings claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

    The US embassy in Turkey condemned the latest attack.

    “Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight,” the embassy wrote on Twitter. “We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror.”

    Turkey is still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed by the government on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

    Saturday’s attack came after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday entered the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

    Wounded police officers are helped after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Al-Bab is the last bastion IS has in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

    The explosions also came hours after Turkey’s ruling party submitted a parliamentary bill that would expand the powers — and possibly the tenure — of Erdogan, a move his opponents fear will lead to one-man rule.

    Bomb targets Turkish city governor

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

    Bomb targets Turkish city governor

    TWO people died and 33 others were injured when a car bomb exploded in the car park of the governor’s office in the southern Turkish city of Adana yesterday.

    The blast sparked a fire, with a cloud of dark smoke billowing into the sky, and caused damage to the building, state-run Anadolu news agency said, describing the incident as a “terror attack.”

    It is believed to have been carried out by a woman, Adana governor Mahmut Demirtas was quoted as saying by Anadolu, without providing further details.

    Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, said one of the injured was in a critical condition.

    Speaking to reporters after inspecting the site, Albayrak condemned the attack and said: “We have no fear from anything other than Allah.”

    Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik, a ruling party MP from Adana, wrote on Twitter: “This accursed terror continues to target our people. We will fight against terror until the very end in the name of humanity.”

    Celik, who later visited Adana, claimed the atrocity targeted the governor.

    With a population of almost 2 million, Adana is one of Turkey’s largest cities, located around 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.

    In September, the US consulate in the city had warned its citizens of a potential threat targeting US-branded hotels.

    “We strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Adana,” the US embassy in Ankara said on Twitter, adding that the United States stands “with Turkey against terror.”

    Incirlik air base, just outside Adana, is used by American and coalition forces as a hub for air raids against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

    The attack came on the same day that three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in an airstrike in northern Syria that Turkey blamed on the Syrian regime.

    Turkey has experienced a bloody year of militant attacks in its two biggest cities that have left dozens dead and put the country on high alert.

    Kurdish militants have twice struck in Ankara, while suspected IS suicide bombers have hit Istanbul on three occasions.

    In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities pointing the finger at IS.

    Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeast city of Gaziantep.

    The country is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

    There was no immediate indication of who was behind the latest attack.

    The Turkish military has stepped up operations against Kurdish militants after a fragile cease-fire broke down in the summer of 2015.

    Since then, there has been a dramatic surge in violence that shows no sign of ending.

    The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies, generally concentrates its attacks in the southeast of the country.

    Although located in southern Turkey, Adana lies to the west of the southeastern region that has been the main theater of conflict with the PKK.

    Turkey’s President Erdogan Blasts U.S.-Led Campaign Against Islamic State

     

    While Defense Secretary Ashton Carter prepared for his trip to Turkey, a senior Iraqi general on Wednesday called on Iraqis fighting for the Islamic State to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake Mosul entered its third day. Story.
    – The Washington Times – Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be walking into diplomatic buzz saw Thursday when he arrives in Turkey a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a blistering critique of the U.S.-backed campaign to oust the Islamic State group from neighboring Iraq and demanded a bigger role for Turkish military forces.

    Mr. Erdogan’s remarkable outburst was the latest sign of difficulties the Obama administration faces in keeping the various members of its regional coalition pushing in the same direction in the fight to oust the Islamic State from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria and find a way to end Syria’s bloody civil war.

    The Obama administration has long sought to control Turkish involvement in the Iraq fight amid fears of a clash with American-aligned Kurdish forces near Mosul, but Mr. Erdogan threatened Wednesday to take unilateral action ifTurkey’s interests were threatened by chaos spilling from the battle to reclaim Iraq’s second-largest city.

    “From now on, we will not wait for problems to come knocking on our door, we will not wait until the blade is against our bone and skin, we will not wait for terrorist organizations to come and attack us,” Mr. Erdogan said in a fiery speech from his presidential palace in Ankara.

    His comments prompted concern among U.S. officials already wary about a series of provocative moves by Mr. Erdogan that analysts say have been driven — at least in part — by a desire to pressure Washington into giving Turkey its way against Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. Mr. Carter’s visit will also be his first to Ankara since a failed military coup nearly ousted Mr. Erdogan and his ruling AKP party from power this summer.

    While Turkey remains a major NATO ally, Mr. Erdogan raised eyebrows in the West last week when he suddenly invited Russia to bid on providing his nation with its first-ever long-range air and anti-missile defense system.

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    The Pentagon declined to comment Wednesday on whether Mr. Carter will raise the issue during his visit to Turkey. But it is likely to add to the thick tension over the Kurdish issue. Turkey has long battled the separatist Kurdish PKK movement in its south and fears an independent Kurdistan across the border in Iraq will only inflame the fight.

    The Obama administration has relied on Kurdish militias to fight the Islamic State in both nations, but the Erdogan government views many of them as terrorists no less threatening than the group that has held Mosul and other territory in northern Iraq and Syria for the past 2 years.

    Erdogan is trying to leverage political gain, and he wants Turkish troops in northern Iraq,” said Michael Rubin, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

    “He clearly wants to be in Mosul,” Mr. Rubin said Wednesday. “He wants Turkish boots on the ground so he can help determine the future of what happens there.”

    Muscling the Pentagon?

    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made headlines Tuesday by claiming the country had reached an agreement with U.S. commanders to allow Turkish fighters to carry out airstrikes in Mosul against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

    Turkish F-16 fighters based out of Incirlik Air Base, near the country’s southern border with Iraq, would execute airstrikes in Mosul under the command of the country’s military command node in Kuwait, Mr. Yildrim told the Hurriyet Daily News. The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has protested Turkish military actions inside its borders.

    Mr. Erdogan reiterated the claim regarding Turkish air operations over Mosul, saying Baghdad “thought they could keep us out of Mosul by bothering us with the PKK and [the Islamic State].”

    He said Iraqi leaders strove to “shape our future with the hands of terrorist organizations.”

    U.S. defense officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday that no such agreement had been reached withAnkara on military air operations in Mosul.

    “It’s not true,” one defense official said, noting there had been only one instance of Turkish aircraft entering Iraqi airspace — a surveillance drone — since the country’s forces deployed to northern Iraq.

    Additionally, Russia has warned Turkish forces advancing through the Syrian border town of Jarablus to halt their advance south or risk being targeted by Russian aircraft operating in the country, the official added. Russia is allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, a longtime adversary of Turkey.

    Even if a military coordination deal included Turkey, it would require Iraq to sign off because any offer of foreign military support in the campaign against the Islamic State needs Baghdad’s approval, a second U.S. defense official told The Times.

    Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of U.S. and coalition land forces in Iraq, said at the Pentagon on Wednesday that there were no orders directing Turkish fighters to take part in the fight for Mosul.

    Roughly 300 to 400 Turkish soldiers are stationed at a small training camp outside Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. Reports say smaller Turkish units are scattered across the city’s northern and eastern borders.

    Turkish units have been training and equipping Sunni militias in the region, preparing them to defend against any threats posed by Kurdish members of the People’s Protection Unit, also known as the YPG, the armed faction of the Kurdish Workers’ Party in northern Iraq. Ankara considers the group to be on par with the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.

    U.S.-Turkish ties in the fight against the Islamic State began to fray in June, when Washington rebuffed an offer byTurkey to conduct joint operations to retake the strategically critical northern Syrian district of Manbij.

    Since then, U.S. diplomats and defense officials have repeatedly tried to engage with their Turkish counterparts to quell any tensions among Washington, Baghdad and Ankara, the second defense official said.

    But Pentagon officials say Mr. Erdogan’s recent tough talk is aimed less at the U.S. and Mr. Carter than at concerns over the fallout once the Islamic State is driven from Mosul. The caustic rhetoric coming out of Ankara over the past several weeks did not start “until [Mr. al-Abadi] announced the operation” to retake Mosul, one official added.

    Footsie with Moscow

    Turkey’s demand for a role in the Mosul fight has overshadowed its outreach toward Russia, which has generated growing concern among officials in Washington.

    According to a Defense News report, Mr. Erdogan made the surprising move last week to invite Moscow to bid on a contract to provide a long-range air and anti-missile defense system for Turkey — three years after Ankara disqualified a Russian bidder.

    Turkey’s pursuit of the system has been bumpy since 2013, when Ankara took bids from U.S., French and Chinese companies before selecting the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. to provide the air defense architecture.

    But the deal with the Chinese was suddenly canceled amid heated criticism from Washington and other NATO allies.

    One American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday said U.S. officials were warily monitoring Mr. Erdogan’s call for a Russian bid ahead of Mr. Carter’s visit.

    However, the official suggested that the Obama administration thinks it is highly unlikely that the Turks will go through with deal with the Russians.

    “Obviously, we were concerned three years ago when Turkey decided to try to buy an air defense system from China,” said the official. “So we walked them off of that, telling them that if they were interested in getting an air defense system that could be interoperable with NATO and linked to intelligence aspects of the NATO network, then they would have to buy a NATO system, not a Russian or Chinese system.”

    While the official lamented that the Turks have “invited the Russians to bid again,” they added that “there’s a big difference between Turkey doing things for optics and actually signing contracts.”

    But Turkey’s overtures toward Russia may be more than just posturing, Mr. Rubin said.

    “On one hand, Erdogan is trying to leverage political gain,” he said, but Turkey appears poised to take “a turn away from NATO.”

    Mr. Erdogan, he noted, went out of his way after this summer’s failed coup to fire scores of Turkish military officials “simply because they had experience working with NATO.”

    In addition to Turkey, the Pentagon said, Mr. Carter will stop in the United Arab Emirates, France and Belgium to meet with “key partners in the campaign to deliver [Islamic State] a lasting defeat.” He plans a major speech on the future of NATO next week in Brussels.

    Turkey’s Erdogan Will Not Tolerate Peace With The Kurdish People!

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

    TURKEY AIRSTRIKES KILL OVER 160 SYRIAN KURDS NORTH OF ALEPPO, MILITARY SAYS

    The Turkish military said its jets conducted 26 raids Wednesday night.

    The Turkish air force has conducted strikes against the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia north of the besieged city of Aleppo, killing at least 160 members of the militia, Turkey’s state-run news agency said Thursday.

    The military conducted the raids late Wednesday and targeted 18 Kurdish positions in the Maarraat Umm Hawsh region, according to Anadolu news agency. The strikes mark a significant escalation in Turkish action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and are likely to exacerbate tensions between Ankara and Washington, two NATO allies.

    It comes as Iraqi and Kurdish forces are battling to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and Ankara instead backs Syrian rebels against ISIS in northern Syria, ratcheting up tensions with Kurdish forces who had also made advances against the radical Islamist group.

    AleppoMembers of the Syrian Civil Defence search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes in the rebel-held Qatarji neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo, October 17. Turkey conducted airstrikes against Syrian Kurdish forces Thursday north of Aleppo.KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/GETTY

    Turkey is suspicious of Kurdish intentions in northern Syria. The Kurdish YPG militia says it is defending the region from ISIS, beating them back into Raqqa province near its de-facto capital of the same name. But Ankara views Kurdish advances as an attempt to join up two administrative blocs to form a semi-autonomous state, known locally as Rojava, on the country’s southern border.

    Turkey opposes any Kurdish moves towards self-determination, viewing the militiamen as linked to the Kurdish militant group outlawed in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkish authorities in a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead.

    A fragile two-year ceasefire between the PKK and Turkish forces collapsed in July 2015, leading to further PKK attacks and a Turkish military operation in southeastern Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish areas. Turkey subsequently sent Syrian rebels into northern Syria in August to oust ISIS from territory but to also slow Kurdish advances in the region and prevent what it viewed as a land grab.

    While Turkey views the YPG as an extremist organization, Washington views them as valuable partners on the ground in the battle against ISIS, and the most effective fighters to combat the group in Syria.

    Explosion In Ankara Turkey Caused By 300 Kilogram (660 lb) Bomb

    (This article is courtesy of the Ankara Turkey Daily Sabah News Paper)

    The explosion that killed 37 people in Ankara on Sunday was caused by a 300 kilogram (660 pound) bomb consisting of a mix of RDX, TNT and ammonium nitrate, a security source said Wednesday.

    Both RDX and TNT have military and industrial applications while ammonium nitrate is an explosive compound that mainly used as a fertilizer but is often added to homemade bombs.

    The source, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the composition and scale of the bomb was similar to the device used in an attack on military buses in Ankara on Feb. 17 that killed 29.

    PKK terrorist Seher Çağla Demir, 24, has been identified as the bomber by the Turkish authorities, who are also investigating the possibility there was another terrorist in the car.

    Police Chief Drives Stolen Car Around City For 3 Day’s Unnoticed By Cameras Or Officers

    (This article is courtesy of the Ankara Turkey Sabah Daily News Paper)

    Mahmut Karaaslan, the new police chief of Turkish capital Ankara who started his duty following the deadly car bombing on March 13 that killed 35 civilians, drove around the city unnoticed for three days with license plates belonging to stolen cars to test the city’s surveillance cameras and license plate recognition system.

    According to an article of Turkish daily Sözcü, Karaaslan drove in the city’s main arteries and streets monitored by 1,400 surveillance cameras for three days in a row. 41 different license plates sought by the police were tried on the car driven by Karaaslan, all going unnoticed by the city license plate recognition system installed in 513 different places around the city. The police chief also went unnoticed in police checkpoints in different parts of the city.

    Karaaslan warned related police commissioners regarding his inspection, and asked necessary measures to be taken. The article stated that the recognition system didn’t detect license plates with seizure orders or duplicated plates as it slowed the whole system down.

    With its increasing involvement in the civil war in Syria and the anti-Daesh campaign in Iraq, the PKK started adopting new tactics in its armed insurgency against the Turkish state, which includes car bombings and erecting explosive-laden barricades in urban areas. The car bombing attack carried out on February 17 that killed 29 people in Ankara was carried out by a stolen car by a terrorist from hardliner PKK group named TAK, who was trained by the PKK’s Syrian offshoot YPG.

    Another car bombing was carried out by PKK terrorists killed 35 civilians in Ankara on March 13.

    The Turkish capital was also targeted by a twin suicide bombing carried out by the Daesh (ISIS) terror organization on Oct. 10, 2015, killing 103 people in a peace rally.

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