Rand Paul

The Pronk Pops Show 1344, October 18, 2019, Story 1: Five Day Cease Fire or Pause Before Turkey Genocide of Kurds in Syrian Buffer Zone? — 200,000 Civilians Fled Zone — Massive Prison Break of Islamic State Possible as Kurds Flee — Long Range Consequences of United States Interventionist Foreign Policy: Million of Refugees and Deaths — Regime Change Roulette — Videos — Story 2: Britain Finally Has European Union Divorce Agreement But Will Parliament Approve Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal? — Videos –Story 3: Hillary Clinton Rampant Russian Delusions, Lying and Paranoia — Russia Dumped Hillary Clinton for Tulsi Gabbard As The Russian Choice For Their Candidate in 2020? — In Your Guts You Know Hillary Gone Nuts —  Videos — Story 4: Trump Dazzles Dallas — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1344 October 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1343 October 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1342 October 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1341 October 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1340 October 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1339 October 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1338 October 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1337 October 9, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1331 October 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1330 September 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1329 September 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1328 September 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1327 September 25, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1324 September 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1323 September 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1322 September 18 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1321 September 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1320 September 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1319 September 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1318 September 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1317 September 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1316 September 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1315 September 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1314 September 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1313 August 28, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1310 August 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1309 August 20, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1306 August 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1305 August 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1304 August 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1303 August 7, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

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Story 1: FIve Day Cease Fire or Pause Before Turkey Genocide of Kurds in Syrian Buffer Zone? — 200,000 Civilians Fled Zone — Massive Prison Break of Islamic State Possible as Kurds Flee — Long Range Consequences of United States Interventionist Foreign Policy: Million of Refugees and Deaths — Regime Change Roulette — Videos —

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Syria, Turkey, Kurds, ISIS & Trump & Putin, and how the Middle East unravelled in murderous chaos

Turkey in northern Syria explained

The US, Daesh and the PKK: Explaining Turkey’s operation in Syria

Turkey backed Syrian forces move into Tal Abyad

Turkish, Kurdish forces accuse each other of violating cease-fire

How the Kurds became a key player in Syria’s war

The PKK explained

The PKK-YPG connection

The Kurds

The Kurds: The Most Famous Unknown People in the World | Stephen Mansfield | TEDxNashville

Turkish and Kurdish forces clash despite ceasefire

Syria: Kurds’ fury as Trump orders US troop withdrawal

War in Syria: Can the Kurdish forces fight back?

Turkey invades Syria: Who are the players and what do they want? | DW News

What’s next for the Kurds? | ITV News

Why the world is worried about Turkey

PBS NewsHour West live show October 18, 2019

Top U.S. & World Headlines — October 18, 2019

Bashar al-Assad: ‘Turkey will pay a heavy price’ for Syrian involvement

Al-Assad’s troops enter northern towns to confront offensive

Assad forces are moving into towns and villages once held by the Kurds | ITV News

Race to the border: Syrian Kurds call in Assad against Turkey offensive

An Interview with PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan

The war against Assad in Syria

Civil war in Syria has already claimed the lives of more than 60.000 people. The prospect that there will soon be an end to the murdering is bad. “Assad listens to no one”, suggests Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when describing his experiences with the Syrian president. The former UN negotiator Kofi Annan, who attempted to mediate between the fronts for several months, always had the feeling that “Assad will not accept reality”. At the same time, Annan makes the USA and the Syrian opposition jointly responsible for the disaster: “Those calling for Assad to resign as a precondition for talks make negotiations impossible”. In an exclusive interview, Syria’s President, Bashar al Assad, defended attacks by his air force on rebels in Syrian cities, which also massively effect his own people, said: “We have to defend ourselves as the tactics of the enemy force us to”. In the same interview, which was recorded at the end of 2012 for this documentary,

Assad also made “foreign terrorists responsible for the situation in his country”. In his documentary, Grimme award winner Hubert Seipel analyses the dangerous situation in Syria. Apart from his meeting with Assad, he conducted exclusive interviews with Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Seipel illuminated a conflict in which not only Kalashnikovs and missiles, but also the Internet plays the central role in public opinion. “False information and psychological warfare make up a very large part of the Syrian Civil War. It is significantly worse than in previous wars that I had ever been involved in”, added Kofi Annan, describing the massive disinformation. Whoever has control of the images of war, has the power to influence political decisions. Massacre marketing is a powerful weapon.

Frontline – The Battle for Syria

2012 documentary on the Syrian Civil War by Frontline

The Boy who started the Syrian War | Featured Documentary

The Cost of the Syrian War

Syria’s child refugees: ‘You feel that they have lost their hearts

Syrians Return Home After Humiliating Refugee-Life in Europe | The Quint

The Ingraham Angle 10/18/19 | Fox Breaking News Laura Ingraham October 18, 2019

Rand Paul Discusses Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Syria | The View

Neoconservatives vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy Since 9/11

Ron Paul: Americans Are Forced to Pay for U.S. Government’s Interventionist Foreign Policy

Ron Paul’s 2003 House speech about the danger of neoconservatism

 

Kurdistan Workers’ Party

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Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (PKK)
Leader Cemîl Bayik and Besê Hozat [tr]
Founded 1978; 41 years ago
Headquarters Qandil Mountains
Paramilitary wing People’s Defence Forces(HPG)
Free Women’s Units (YJA-STAR)
Ideology Kurdish nationalism[1]
Communalism
Democratic confederalism[2]
Libertarian socialism[3]
Jineology
Anti-capitalism
National affiliation Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH)
International affiliation Kurdistan Communities Union(KCK)
Website
www.pkkonline.org
People’s Defence Forces
Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG)
Leader(s)
Foundation 1984[8]
Dates of operation 1984–present
Motives Cultural & political rights for the Kurdish population in Turkey.[9]
Active region(s) Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran
Ideology Libertarian socialism
Democratic confederalism
Communalism[10]
Notable attacks 1984 PKK attacks
May 24, 1993 PKK ambush
2011 Hakkâri attack
Status Ongoing war with Turkey, after ceasefire ended.[11][12]
Size Over 32,800 active fighters (2015 Turkish claim)[13]
Website www.hezenparastin.com
Free Women’s Units
Yekîneyên Jinên Azad ên Star (YJA-STAR)
Foundation 2004
Dates of operation 2004–present[14]
Active region(s) Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran
Ideology Libertarian socialism
Democratic confederalism
Socialism
Communalism[10]
Status Ongoing war with Turkey, after ceasefire ended.[11][12][15]
Website www.yja-star.com/ku/

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (KurdishPartiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎, TurkishKürdistan İşçi Partisi [a]) is a Kurdish militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq, broadly considered as a terrorist group. Since 1984 the PKK has been involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state (with cease-fires in 1999–2004 and 2013–2015), with the initial aim of achieving an independent Kurdish state. The PKK has in March 2016 vowed to overthrow the Turkish “fascist AKP” government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, through the ‘Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement‘.[16] For different reasons, the PKK has been designated as “terrorist” organization by Turkey,[17] the United States, the European Union, and Japan.[18]

The PKK was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan[19] and 1979 it made its existence known to the public.[20] The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent Communist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan. The initial reasons given by the PKK for this were the oppression of Kurds in Turkey and capitalism.[21][22] By then, the use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned in Kurdish-inhabited areas.[23] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan“, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[failed verification][24] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[25] Many who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed.[26] The PKK was then formed, as part of a growing discontent over the suppression of Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, in an effort to establish linguistic, cultural, and political rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish minority.[27]

Since the PKK’s foundation, it has been involved in armed clashes with Turkish security forces. The full-scale insurgency, however, did not begin until 15 August 1984, when the PKK announced a Kurdish uprising. Since the conflict began, more than 40,000 have died, most of whom were Kurdish civilians through Turkish military actions.[28]

In 1999, PKK leader Öcalan was captured and imprisoned.[29] In May 2007, former members of the PKK helped form the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. In 2013, the PKK declared a ceasefire agreement and began slowly withdrawing its fighters to the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq as part of the solution process between the Turkish state and the Kurdish minority.

Since July 2015, when the ceasefire broke down,[30] violent actions inside Turkey from the government against the PKK and vice versa kept occurring, supplemented with Turkish military action in 2018 against PKK fighters in Iraq, and both in January 2018 and October 2019 against Kurdish political groups (PYD) and forces (YPG and YPJ) in Syria which according to Turkey and some observers[31] are strongly tied to the PKK (see ‘clashing’ details in: Kurdish–Turkish conflict (1978–present)#2015–present).

Contents

History

PKK supporters at 2003 march opposing the Iraq War, London

In the early 1970s, the organization’s core group was made up largely of students led by Abdullah Öcalan (“Apo“) in Ankara. By then, the use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned in Kurdish-inhabited areas.[23] In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[23][32][33][34] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan“, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[24] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[25] Many who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[26] The PKK was then formed, as part of a growing discontent over the suppression of Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, in an effort to establish linguistic, cultural, and political rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish minority.[27] The group focused to the large oppressed Kurdish population in south-east Turkey. A meeting on 25 November 1978, in a tea house near Diyarbakır is considered the founding meeting.[35] On 27 November 1978, the group adopted the name Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Espousing a Marxist ideology, the group took part in violent conflicts with right-wing entities as a part of the political chaos in Turkey at the time. The group tried to assassinate the Kurdish tribal leader Mehmet Celal Bucak in 1979. According to the PKK sources, he was exploiting the peasants, and collaborated with Turkey in oppressing the Kurds. It is believed that this marked a period of intense urban warfare among other political elements.

Turkish sources claimed that the 1980 Turkish coup d’état pushed the organization to another stage, with members being executed, doing jail time, being subject to capital punishment, or fleeing to Syria. On 10 November 1980, it was claimed that the PKK bombed the Turkish Consulate in Strasbourg, France in a joint operation with the Armenian radical group ASALA, which they claimed as the beginning of a “fruitful collaboration.”[36] The PKK didn’t take responsibility despite a numerous of accusations.

Starting in 1984, the PKK transformed into a paramilitary group, using training camps in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and France. At the same time, some of its members started to get training by the members of the Palestine Liberation Organization who themselves were trained by Soviet personnel in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in Syrian-controlled camps. According to the U. S. government reports, the PKK received significant support by Syria, which allowed it to maintain headquarters in Damascus, as well as by Iran, Iraq, and Libya. It later began to launch attacks and bombings against Turkish governmental installations, the military, and various institutions of the state. The organization focused on attacks against Turkish military targets in Turkey, although civilian targets were also hit. The group started to gain publicity after committing political killings and massacres.[37][38][39][40]

From the mid-1990s, the organization began to lose the upper hand in its operations as a consequence of a change of tactics by Turkey and Syria’s steady abandonment of support for the group. The group also had lost its support from Saddam Hussein.[41] At the same time, the government started to use more violent methods to counter Kurdish militants. From 1996 to 1999, the organization began to use suicide bombers, VBIED and ambush attacks against military and police bases. The role of suicide bombers, especially female ones were encouraged and mythologised by giving them the status of a “goddess of freedom”, and shown as role models for other women after their death. On 30 July 1996, Zeynep Kınacı, a female PKK fighter, carried out the organization’s first suicide attack, killing 8 soldiers and injuring 29 others. The attacks against the civilians, especially the Kurdish citizens who refused to cooperate with them were also reported at the same years. On 20 January 1999, a report published by HRW, stated that the PKK was believed to have been responsible for more than 768 executions. The organization had also reportedly committed 25 massacres, killing more than 300 people. More than hundred victims were children and women.[42][42][43][44][45]

The Kurdish–Turkish conflict was in its peak in the 1990s until the leader of the organization, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured, prosecuted and sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to life imprisonment as part of the government’s seeking European Union membership.[46] In the late 1990s, Turkey increased the pressure and the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria ended open Syrian support.[47][48]

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for human rights abuses during the conflict.[49][50] Some judgements are related to executions of Kurdish civilians,[51] torturing,[52] forced displacements,[53]destroyed villages,[54][55][56] arbitrary arrests,[57] murdered and disappeared Kurdish journalists, activists and politicians.[58][59][60] As a result of increasing Kurdish population and activism, the Turkish parliament began a controlled process of dismantling some anti-Kurdish legislation, using the term “normalization” or “rapprochement,” depending on the sides of the issue. It partially relaxed the bans on broadcasting and publishing in the Kurdish language, although significant barriers remain.[61] At the same time, the PKK was blacklisted in many countries. On 2 April 2004, the Council of the European Union added the PKK to its list of terrorist organizations. Later that year, the US Treasury moved to freeze assets of branches of the organization. The PKK went through a series of changes, and in 2003 it ended the unilateral truce declared when Öcalan was captured.[62]

On 20 March 2016, the PKK announced the establishment of Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement, a coalition of MaoistsMarxists-Leninists, Apoists, Communists and Hoxhaistswhich aim to attain “democracy and a free future” for “peoples against Imperialism, Capitalism, Chauvinism, Fascism and Racism”, by working towards the overthrow of the ruling AKP government, who they deem collaborative fascist.[63]

Ideology, aims

The organization originated in the 1970s from the radical left and drew its membership from other existing leftist groups, mainly Dev-Genç.[64]:127 During the 1980s, the movement included and cooperated with other ethnic groups, including ethnic Turks, who were following the radical left.[64]:127[64]:129 The organization initially presented itself as part of the worldwide communist revolution. Its aims and objectives have evolved over time towards the goal of national autonomy,[65] and democratic confederalism.[66][67][68]

Around 1995, the PKK ostensibly changed its aim from independence to a demand for equal rights and Kurdish autonomy within the Turkish state,[69][70][71] though all the while hardly suspending their military attacks on the Turkish state except for ceasefires in 1999–2004 and 2013–2015. In 1995, Öcalan said: “We are not insisting on a separate state under any condition. What we are calling for very openly is a state model where a people’s basic economic, cultural, social, and political rights are guaranteed”.[70]

Whilst this shift in the mid-nineties has been interpreted as one from a call for independence to an autonomous republic,[72] some scholars have concluded that the PKK still maintains independence as the ultimate goal, but through society-building rather than state-building.[73][74]

Nevertheless, the PKK has in March 2016 also vowed to overthrow the Turkish government of Erdoğan, through the ‘Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement‘.[75]

The organization has adapted the new Democratic confederalist views of its arrested leader, which aim to replace the United NationsCapitalism and Nation State with the Democratic Federalism which is described as a “system of popularly elected administrative councils, allowing local communities to exercise autonomous control over their assets, while linking to other communities via a network of confederal councils.[76]

Followers of Öcalan and members of the PKK are known, after his diminutive name, as Apocu (Apo-ites) under his movement, Apoculuk (Apoism).[77]

Organization

The PKK has multiple heads in various countries, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia and West European countries.[78] However, Abdullah Öcalan was the unchallenged leader of the organization. After the capture of Öcalan, authorities induced him to publicly plead for a ceasefire.[79] Though serving life imprisonment, Öcalan is still considered the honorary leader and figurehead of the organization.[80]

Murat Karayılan led the organization from 1999 to 2013. In 2013 Cemil Bayik and Besê Hozat assumed as the first joint leadership.[81] Cemil Bayik, beside Abdullah Öcalan, Kesire Yildirim Öcalan and Haki Karer was one of the core leaders. The organization appointed “Doctor Bahoz,” the nom de guerre of Fehman Huseyin, a Syrian Kurd, in charge of the movement’s military operations signifying the long-standing solidarity among Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan.[82]

Wings[

Umbrella organization

In 1985, the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (KurdishEniye Rizgariye Navata Kurdistan‎, ERNK) was established by the PKK as its popular front wing, with the role of both creating propaganda for the party, and as an umbrella organization for PKK organizations in different segments of the Kurdish population, such as the peasantry, workers, youth, and women. It was dissolved in 1999, after the capture of Abdullah Öcalan.[83][84]

Armed wing

The PKK has an armed wing, originally formed in 1984 as the Kurdistan Freedom Brigades (KurdishHazen Rizgariya Kurdistan‎, HRK),[85] renamed to the People’s Liberation Army of Kurdistan (KurdishArteshen Rizgariya Gelli Kurdistan‎, ARGK) in 1986,[83] and again renamed to the People’s Defense Forces (KurdishHêzên Parastina Gel‎, HPG) in 1999.[86]

Women’s armed wing

The Free Women’s Units of Star (KurdishYekîneyên Jinên Azad ên Star‎,[87] YJA-STAR) was established in 2004 as the women’s armed wing of the PKK, emphasizing the issue of women’s liberation.[14]

Training camps

The first training camps were established in 1982 in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and also in Beqaa Valley with the support of the Syrian government.[88][89] After the Iran-Iraq war and the Kurdish civil war, the PKK moved all its camps to Northern Iraq in 1998. The PKK had also completely moved to Qandil Mountains from Beqaa Valley, under intensive pressure, after Syria expelled Öcalan and shut down all camps established in the region.[89] At the time, Northern Iraq was experiencing a vacuum of control after the Gulf War-related Operation Provide Comfort. Instead of a single training camp which could be easily destroyed, the organization created many small camps. During this period the organization set up a fully functioning enclave with training camps, storage facilities, and reconnaissance and communications centers.

In 2007, the organization was believed to have camps strung out through the mountains that straddle the border between Turkey and Iraq, including in Sinaht, Haftanin, Kanimasi and Zap.[90] The organization developed two types of camps. The mountain camps, located in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, are used as forward bases from which militants carry out attacks against Turkish military bases. The units deployed there are highly mobile and the camps have only minimal infrastructure.[90] The other permanent camps, in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq, have more developed infrastructure—including a field hospital, electricity generators and a large proportion of the PKK’s lethal and non-lethal supplies.[90] The organization is also using the Qandil mountain camps for its political activities.

It was claimed in 2004 that there was another political training camp in Belgium, evidence that the organization had used training camps in Europe for political and ideological training.[91]

Political representation

The organization had sympathizer parties in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey beginning in the early 1990s. The establishment of direct links to the organization has been a question. In sequence HEP/DEP/HADEP/DEHAP/DTP and the BDP, which later changed its name to Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on 11 July 2014,[92] as well as the HDP have been accused of sympathizing with the PKK, since they have refused to brand it as a terrorist group.

Political organizations established in Turkey are banned from propagating or supporting separatism. Several political parties supporting Kurdish rights have been allegedly banned on this pretext. The constitutional court claimed to find direct links between the HEP/DEP/HADEP and the PKK. In 2008 the DTP-party was prosecuted by the constitutional court. It is reported that Turkey has used the PKK as an excuse to close Kurdish political parties.

Turkish-Kurdish politician and conspiracist Abdülmelik Fırat had claimed the Democratic Society Party (DTP) was founded by the PKK, and that 80 percent of Kurds do not vote for this party.[93] Senior DTP leaders maintain that they support a unified Turkey within a democratic framework. Aysel Tuğluk published an article in Radikal in May 2007 as the co-president of DTP, to prove that claim.[94]

Several parliamentarians and other elected representatives have been jailed for speaking in Kurdish, carrying Kurdish colors or otherwise allegedly “promoting separatism”, most famous among them being Leyla Zana.[95] The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for arresting and executing Kurdish writers, journalists and politicians in numerous occasions. Between 1990 and 2006 Turkey was condemned to pay 33 million euros in damages in 567 cases. The majority of the cases were related to events that took place in southeastern Anatolia[96] Politicians of the HDP are often accused and prosecuted for being members of the PKK.[97] In Iraq the political party Tevgera Azadî is said to have close to the PKK.[98]

Alleged links with Turkish intelligence

During the controversial Ergenekon trials in Turkey, allegations have been made that the PKK is linked to elements of the Turkish intelligence community.

Şamil Tayyar, author and member of the ruling AK Party, claimed that Öcalan was released in 1972 after just three months’ detention on the initiative of the National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT), and that his 1979 escape to Syria was aided by elements in MİT.[99] Öcalan has admitted making use of money given by the MIT to the PKK, which he says was provided as part of MIT efforts to control him.[100]

Former police special forces member Ayhan Çarkın alleged that the state, using the clandestine Ergenekon network, colluded with militant groups such as the PKK, Dev-Sol and Turkish Hezbollah, with the goal of profiting from the war.[101]

A witness to the trials testified that General Levent Ersöz, former head of JITEM, had frequent contact with PKK commander Cemîl Bayik.[102]

According to official figures, it was claimed that nearly 2000 PKK members became itirafçı (“confessors”) after their arrest. Some were persuaded or coerced to play an active role in the conflict, particularly under the direction of the Turkish Gendarmerie‘s unofficial JİTEMunit.[citation needed]

Activities

During its establishment in the mid-1970s, amid violent clashes country-wide, the organization used classic violent methods, such as the alleged failed assassination of Mehmet Celal Bucak as a propaganda-of-the-deed.[64] After the 1980 military coup, the organization developed into a paramilitary organization using resources it acquired in Syria, Russia, Europe and Beqaa Valley in part of ex-Syrian-controlled Lebanon. After 1984, PKK began also to use the Maoist theory of people’s war.[103][104]

The PKK has faced condemnation by some countries for executing civilians, using suicide bombers,[105][106] Child Soldiers[107] and involvement in drug trafficking.[108]

Political activity 1978–1984

In the first phase (1978–1984), the PKK tried to gain the support of the Kurdish population. It attacked the machinery of government and distributed propaganda in the region. PKK tactics were based on ambushsabotage, riots, protests, and demonstrations against the Turkish government. During these years, the PKK also fought a turf war against other radical Islamist Kurdish and Turkish organisations in Turkey. Turkish newspapers claimed that the PKK effectively used the prison force to gain appeal among the population which PKK has denied.[109][110] In the whole Turkey, this period was characterized by violent clashes which culminated in the 1980 military coup.

During this time, the organization argued that its violent actions against the government forces were explained by the need to defend Kurds in the context of what it considered as the massive cultural suppression of Kurdish identity (including the 1983 Turkish Language Act Ban) and cultural rights carried out by other governments of the region.[111] Turkey also used violent and oppressive methods against its Kurdish citizens to stop them supporting the PKK.

Armed rebellion 1984–1999

In the second phase (1984–1999), which followed the return of civilian rule in 1983, escalating attacks were made on the government’s military and vital institutions all over the country. The objective was to destabilize the Turkish authority through a long, low-intensity confrontation. In addition to skirmishing with Turkish military and police forces and local village guards, the PKK has conducted bomb attacks on government and police installations.[112] Kidnapping and assassination against government and military officials and Kurdish tribal leaders who were named as puppets of the state were performed as well. Widespread sabotages were continued from the first stage. Turkish sources had also claimed that the PKK carried out kidnappings of tourists, primarily in Istanbul, but also at different resorts. However, the PKK had in its history arrested 4 tourists and released them all after warning them to not enter the war zone. The vast majority of PKK’s actions have taken place mainly in Turkey against the Turkish military, although it has on occasions co-operated with other Kurdish nationalist paramilitary groups in neighboring states, such as Iraq and Iran.[113] The PKK has also attacked Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities across Western Europe in the late 1980s. In effect, the Turkish state has led a series of counter-insurgency operations against the PKK, accompanied by political measures, starting with an explicit denunciation of separatism in the 1982 Constitution, and including proclamation of the state of emergency in various PKK-controlled territories starting in 1983 (when the military relinquished political control to the civilians). This series of administrative reforms against terrorism included in 1985 the creation of village guard system by the then prime minister Turgut Özal. Öcalan, in presence of PUK leader Jalal Talabani declared a unilateral cease fire in 1993, and said the PKK did not want to separate from Turkey, but Turkey did not respond to it.[114] Turkey was involved in serious human rights violations during the 1990s. The ECHR has condemned Turkey for executions of Kurdish civilians, torturing, forced displacements and massive arrests.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, in an effort to win increased support from the Kurdish peasantry, the PKK altered its leftist secular ideology to better accommodate and accept Islamic beliefs. The group also abandoned its previous strategy of attacking Kurdish and Turkish civilians who were against them, focusing instead on government and military targets.[115] In its campaign, the organization has been accused of carrying out atrocities against both Turkish and Kurdish civilians and its actions have been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International[116] and Human Rights Watch[117][citation needed]. Similar actions of the Turkish state have also been criticized by these same groups.

Cease fire 1999–2004

The third phase (1999–2012), after the capture of Öcalan, PKK reorganized itself and new leaders were chosen by its members. The PKK wasn’t active between 2000 and 2003. The organization made radical changes to survive, such as changing its ideology and setting new goals. At the same time, the PKK continued to recruit new members and sustain its fighting force.

According to Turkish sources, in April 2002 at its 8th Party Congress, the PKK changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and proclaimed a commitment to nonviolent activities in support of Kurdish rights. A PKK/KADEK spokesman stated that its armed wing, The People’s Defense Force, would not disband or surrender its weapons for reasons of self-defense. This statement by the PKK/KADEK avowing it would not lay down its arms underscores that the organization maintained its capability to carry out armed operations. PKK/KADEK established a new ruling council in April, its membership virtually identical to the PKK’s Presidential Council. The PKK/KADEK did not conduct an armed attack in 2002; however, the group periodically issued veiled threats that it will resume violence if the conditions of its imprisoned leader are not improved and its forces are attacked by Turkish military, and it continued its military training like before.

In November 2003, another congress was held which lead to renaming itself as the People’s Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK). The stated purpose of the organizational change was to leave behind nationalistic and state-building goals, in favor of creating a political structure to work within the existing nation-states.[118] Through further internal conflict during this period, it is claimed that 1500 militants left the organization,[118] along with many of the leading reformists, including Nizamettin Taş and Abdullah Öcalan‘s younger brother Osman Öcalan[119]

Second insurgency 2004–2012

Kongra-Gel called off the cease-fire at the start of June 2004, saying Turkish security forces had refused to respect the truce. Turkish security forces were increasingly involved in clashes with Kurdish separatist fighters. Ankara claimed that about 2,000 Kurdish fighters had crossed into Turkey from hideouts in mountainous northern Iraq in early June 2004.

While the fight against the Turkish security forces between 2004 and 2010 continued, the PKK and its ancillary organizations continued to enjoy substantial support among the Kurds of Turkey. In 2005, the original name of the organization PKK was restored, while the Kongra-Gel became the legislature of the Koma Komalên Kurdistan.[120][121] Turkey’s struggle against the Kongra-Gel/PKK was marked by increased clashes across Turkey in 2005. In the Southeast, Turkish security forces were active in the struggle against the Kongra-Gel/PKK. There were bombings and attempted bombings in resort areas in western Turkey and Istanbul, some of which resulted in civilian casualties. A radical Kurdish separatist group calling itself the Kurdish Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for many of these attacks. The TAK is a rival to PKK that since 2006 repeatedly damaged the PKK’s efforts to negotiate cease-fires and unlike the PKK, is seeking to establish independent Kurdistan.[122] In 2006 alone, the PKK claimed over 500 victims. In October 2006, the PKK allegedly declared a unilateral cease-fire that slowed the intensity and pace of its attacks, but attacks continued in response to Turkish security forces significant counterinsurgency operations, especially in the southeast. On 21 October 2011 Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced Iran would co-operate with Turkey in some military operations against the PKK.[123]

2012 was the most violent year in the armed conflict between the Turkish State and PKK since 1999. At least 541 individuals lost their lives as a result of the clashes including 316 militants and 282 soldiers. In contrast, 152 individuals lost their lives in 2009 until the Turkish government initiated negotiations with the PKK leadership.[124] The failure of this negotiations contributed to violence that were particularly intensified in 2012. The PKK encouraged by the rising power of the Syrian Kurds increased its attacks in the same year.

During the Syrian Civil War, the Kurds in Syria have established control over their own region with the help of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party as well as with support from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, under President Masoud Barzani.[125]

2013–15 Peace process

Demonstration in Paris for slain PKK workers

In late 2012, the Turkish government began secret talks with Öcalan for a ceasefire.[126] To facilitate talks, government officials transmitted letters between Öcalan in jail to PKK leaders in northern Iraq.[127] On 21 March 2013, a ceasefire was announced.[128] On 25 April, it was announced that the PKK would leave Turkey. Commander Murat Karayılan remarked “As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013. Our forces will use their right to retaliate in the event of an attack, operation or bombing against our withdrawing guerrilla forces and the withdrawal will immediately stop.”[129] The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq welcomed the idea of refugees from its northern neighbor.[130] The BDP held meetings across the region to explain the pending withdrawal to concerned citizens. “The 8th of May is a day we both anticipate and fear,” explained party leader Pinar Yilmaz. “We don’t trust the government at all. Many people here are afraid that once the guerrillas are gone, the Turkish military will crack down on us again.”[128]

The withdrawal began as planned with groups of fighters crossing the border from southeastern Turkey to northern Iraq.[126] Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, however, declared that it would not accept armed groups into its territory. “The Iraqi government welcomes any political and peaceful settlement”, read an official statement. “[But] it does not accept the entry of armed groups to its territories that can be used to harm Iraq’s security and stability.”[130] The prospect of armed Kurdish forces in northern Iraq threatens to increase tensions between the region and Baghdad who are already at odds over certain oil producing territory. PKK spokesman Ahmet Deniz sought to ease concerns stating the plan would boost democracy. “The [peace] process is not aimed against anyone,” he said “and there is no need for concerns that the struggle will take on another format and pose a threat to others.”[130]

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 PKK fighters resided in Turkey at the time.[citation needed] The withdrawal process was expected to take several months even if Iraq does not intervene to try to stop it.[130] On 14 May 2013, the first groups of 13 male and female fighters entered Iraq’s Heror area near the Metina mountain after leaving Turkey. They carried with them Kalashnikov assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers before a welcoming ceremony.[131]

Kurdish PKK guerilla, 23 March 2014

On 29 July 2013, the PKK issued an ultimatum in saying that the peace deal would fail if reforms were not begun to be implemented within a month.[132] In October, Cemil Bayik warned that unless Turkey resumed the peace process, the PKK would resume operations to defend itself against it. He also accused Turkey of waging a proxy war against Kurds during the Syrian Civil War by supporting other extremist rebels who were fighting them.[133]

Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani backed the initiative saying, alongside Erdogan: “This is a historic visit for me … We all know it would have been impossible to speak here 15 or 20 years ago. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has taken a very brave step towards peace. I want my Kurdish and Turkish brothers to support the peace process.”[134]

2014 action against Islamic State and renewed tensions in Turkey

The PKK engaged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in Syria in mid-July 2014[135] as part of the Syrian Civil War. In August the PKK engaged IS in Northern Iraq and pressured the Government of Turkey to take a stand against IS.[136][137] PKK forces helped tens of thousands of Yazidis escape an encircled Mount Sinjar.[138] In September 2014, during the Siege of Kobanî, the PKK, receiving direct U.S. military support,[139] engaged with Islamic State forces in Syria who were attacking Kurdish city Kobane, which resulted in conflicts with Turks on the border and an end to a cease-fire that had been in place over a year.[140] The PKK accused Turkey of supporting ISIS. The PKK participated in many offensives against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.[141]

A number of Turkish Kurds rallied in large-scale street protests, demanding that the government in Ankara take more forceful action to combat IS and to enable Kurdish militants already engaged against IS to more freely move and resupply. These protests included a PKK call for its supporters to turn out.[142] Clashes between police and protesters killed at least 31 people. The Turkish government continued to restrict PKK-associated fighters’ movement across its borders, arresting 260 People’s Protection Units fighters who were moving back into Turkey. On 14 October, Turkish Air Force fighter-bombers attacked PKK positions in the vicinity of Daglica, Hakkari Province.[143]

Turkish military statements claimed that the bombings were in response to PKK attacks on a Turkish military outpost in the area. The Firat news agency, which Al Jazeera describes as “close to the PKK”, claimed that Turkish forces had been shelling the PKK positions for days beforehand and that the PKK action had itself been retaliation for those artillery strikes.[144] The PKK had already reported several Turkish attacks against their troops months before Turkish bombing started.

Percentage of the popular vote won by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2015 Turkish general election. “The HDP’s elections results, which are a proxy indicator of popular support for the PKK, show that the group has followers throughout the country.”[145]

July 2015–present: Renewed insurgency

PKK and Peshmerga fighters, 11 August 2015

PKK Sniper

In the months before the parliamentary election of 2015, as the “Kurdish-focused” HDP’s likelihood of crossing the 10% threshold for entry into the government seemed more likely, Erdogan gave speeches and made comments that repudiated the settlement process and the existence of a Kurdish problem and refusing to recognize the HDP as having any role to play despite their long participation as intermediaries.[146] These announcements increased distrust of the government’s good faith among Kurdish leaders. In July 2015, Turkey finally became involved in the war against ISIL. While they were doing so, they decided to bomb PKK targets in Iraq.[147] The bombings came a few days after PKK was suspected of assassinating two Turkish police officers in CeylanpınarŞanlıurfa, accused by the PKK of having links with ISIS after the 2015 Suruç bombing.[148][149] The PKK has blamed Turkey for breaking the truce by bombing the PKK in 2014 and 2015 continuously.

In August 2015, the PKK announced that they would accept another ceasefire with Turkey only under US guarantees.[150] PKK announced a one-sided ceasefire in October 2015 near election time, but the government refused.[citation needed] The leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan has condemned the Turkish air strikes in its autonomous region in the north of Iraq.[151]

The number of casualties since 23 July was claimed by Turkish government to be 150 Turkish officers and over 2,000 Kurdish rebels killed (by September).[152] In December 2015, Turkish military operation in southeastern Turkey has killed hundreds of civilians, displaced hundreds of thousands and caused massive destruction in residential areas.[153][154]

In March 2016, the PKK helped to launch the Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement with nine other Kurdish and Turkish revolutionary leftist, socialist and communist groups (including the TKP/MLTHKP-C/MLSPBMKPTKEP/LTİKB [defrtrzh]DKPDK and MLKP) with the aim of overthrowing the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[63]

Tactics

The areas in which the group operates are generally mountainous rural areas and dense urban areas. The mountainous terrain offers an advantage to members of the PKK by allowing them to hide in a network of caves.[citation needed]

Recruiting[

PKK female fighters

Since its foundation, the PKK has recruited new fighters mainly from Turkey, but also from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Western countries using various recruitment methods, such as using nationalist propaganda and its gender equality ideology. At its establishment, it included a small number of female fighters but over time, however, the number increased significantly and by the early 1990s, 30 percent of its 17,000 armed fighting forces were women.[155] In much of rural Turkey, where male-dominated tribal structures, and conservative Muslim norms were commonplace, the organization increased its number of members through the recruitment of women from different social structures and environments, also from families that migrated to several European countries after 1960 as guest workers.[155] It was reported by a Turkish university that 88% of the subjects initially believed that equality was a key objective, and that they joined the organization based on this claim.[156] In 2007, approximately 1,100 of 4,500–5,000 total members were women.[155]

In its early stages, the PKK recruited young women by kidnapping them. This forced families whose children were already a member of the organization to cooperate and thus turning them into accomplices, which increased the number of women joining the group, according to the publication, published by the Jamestown Foundation.[155][157][158]

The organization is also actively recruiting child soldiers and it has been accused of abducting more than 2,000 children by Turkish Security Forces. The independent reports by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the United Nations(UN) and the Amnesty International have confirmed the recruitment and use of child soldiers by the organization and its armed wings since the 1990s.[107][159][160][161]

According to the TEPAV think-tank which did research on the identities of 1,362 PKK fighters who lost their lives between 2001 and 2011, 42% of the recruits were under 18, with over a quarter of these being under 15 years of age at the time of recruiting. The organization is also believed to have used the children in the drug trade.[162]

On 22 December 2016, a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the HPG, the armed wing of the PKK, and the YBS, a Yazidi militia affiliated with the PKK, had actively recruited child soldiers since the 2015. The report stated that more than 29 cases had been documented, and some recruited children were under 15 when they had been recruited, which is a war crime under international law.[159]

Weapons

In July 2007, the weapons captured between 1984 and 2007 from the PKK operatives and their origins published by the Turkish General Staff indicates that the operatives erased some of the serial numbers from their weapons. The total number of weapons and the origins for traceable ones were:[163]

 
The choice and origin of the traceable weapons (July 2007)[163]
Type Quantity Sources
AK-47 Kalashnikovs 4,500 71.6% from the USSR, 14.7% from China, 3.6% from Hungary, 3.6% from Bulgaria
Rifles[nb 1] 5,713 of (959 traceable) 45.2% from Russia, 13.2% from United Kingdom, and 9.4% from United States.
Rocket launchers 1,610 (313 traceable) 85% from Russia, 5.4% from Iraq, and 2.5% from China in origin.
Pistols 2,885 (2,208 traceable) 21.9% from Czechoslovakia, 20.2% from Spain, 19.8% from Italy
Grenades 3,490 (136 traceable) 72% from Russia, 19.8% from United States, 8% from Germany,
Land mines 11,568 (8,015 traceable) 60.8% from Italy, 28.3% from Russia, 6.2% from Germany

Turkish authorities claimed that four members of the organization, who handed themselves over to authorities after escaping from camps in northern Iraq, claimed they had seen two U.S. armored vehicles deliver weapons, which was widely reported and further stoked suspicions about U.S. policy in Iraq.[164] The US envoy denied these claims.[165] The arms were claimed to be part of the Blackwater Worldwide arms smuggling allegations. The probe of organization’s weapons and the investigation of Blackwater employees were connected.[166] The PKK also denied these claims.

Resources

Funding

Parties and concerts are organized by branch groups.[167] Additionally, it is believed that the PKK earns money through the sale of various publications, as well as receiving revenues from legitimate businesses owned by the organization, and from Kurdish-owned businesses in Turkey, Russia, Iraq, Iran and Western Europe.[168][169] Besides affiliate organizations, it is claimed that there are sympathizer organizations such as the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe and the International Kurdish Businessmen Union which constantly exchanges information and perform legitimate or semi-legitimate commercial activities and donations.[citation needed]

According to the European Police Office (EUROPOL), the organization collects money from its members, using labels like ‘donations’ and ‘membership fees’ which are seen as a fact extortion and illegal taxation by the authorities. There are also indications that the organization is actively involving in money laundering, illicit drugs and human trafficking, as well as illegal immigration inside and outside the EU for funding and running its activities.[170]

Drug trafficking

PKK’s involvement in drug trafficking has been documented since the 1990s.[171] A report by Interpol published in 1992 states that the PKK, along with nearly 178 Kurdish organizations were suspected of illegal drug trade involvement. The British National Criminal Intelligence Service determined that the PKK obtained $75 million from drug smuggling in Europe in 1993 alone.[172] Members of the PKK have been designated narcotics traffickers by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[173] The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security agency, echoed this finding in its 2011 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution, stating that despite the U.S Department of Treasury designation, there was “no evidence that the organizational structures of the PKK are directly involved in drug trafficking”.[174]

On 14 October 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted the senior leadership of the PKK, designating Murat Karayılan, the head of the PKK, and high-ranking members Ali Riza Altun and Zübeyir Aydar as foreign narcotics traffickers at the request of Turkey.[173] On 20 April 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of PKK founders Cemîl Bayik and Duran Kalkan and other high-ranking members as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNT) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Pursuant to the Kingpin Act, the designation freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals.[175]

According to research conducted by journalist Aliza Marcus, the PKK accepted the support of smugglers in the region. Aliza Marcus claimed that some of those Kurdish smugglers who were involved in the drugs trade, either because they truly believed in the PKK—or because they thought it a good business practice (avoid conflicts)—frequently donated money to the PKK rebels. She also claimed that there were reports of PKK supporters in Europe who used their positions and contacts to trade in drugs—and then handed some of the profits to the PKK. And when PKK activists needed more money, they had no qualms about approaching Kurds who trafficked in narcotics. However, according to Aliza Marcus, it does not seem that the PKK, as an organization, directly produced or traded in narcotics.[176]

Following the SDF capture of Raqqa, YPJ and YPG troops raised a large banner of Abdullah Öcalan in the city centre.[177]

In 2018, the state-run new agency AA claimed that the PKK has successfully kept its drug production and trafficking activities underground, both across the globe and within Turkey, and that the security forces had carried out more than 414 drug trafficking operations against the organization since the 1980. The Turkish authorities have also claimed that the organization gains 1,5 billion USD yearly from drug trafficking.[178][179]

The report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stated that the instability in Iraq has helped the PKK to develop and use Iraq as a transhipment point for Afghan heroin. The PKK was reported to collect taxes per kilogram of heroin trafficked to Turkey from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq borders, with potential profits reaching US$200 million annually.[180]

The EUROPOL which has monitored the organization’s activities inside the EU has also reported the organization’s involvement in the trafficking of drugs and human beings to raise funds for its terrorist activities inside and outside the EU.[170]

On 1 January 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Moldovan-based individuals Zeyneddin Geleri, Cerkez Akbulut, and Omer Boztepe as specially designated narcotics traffickers for drug trafficking on behalf of the PKK in Europe. According to the OFAC, Zeynedding Geleri was identified as a high-ranking member of the PKK while two others were activists. The OFAC stated that the drug trafficking is still one of the organization’s criminal activities it uses to obtain weapons and materials.[181]

Human resources

In 2008, according to information provided by the Intelligence Resource Program of the Federation of American Scientists the strength of the organization in terms of human resources consists of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 militants of whom 3,000 to 3,500 are located in northern Iraq.[182] With the new wave of fighting from 2015 onwards, observers noted that active support for the PKK had become a “mass phenomenon” in majority ethnic Kurdish cities in the Southeast of the Republic of Turkey, with large numbers of local youth joining PKK-affiliated local militant groups.[183]

International support

At the height of its campaign, the organization received support from many countries. According to Turkey, countries the PKK has previously/currently received support from include: Greece,[184][185] Iran,[186] Iraq,[187] Russia[188] and Syria.[186] The level of support given has changed throughout this period. Official Turkish sources also allege cooperation between the PKK and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).[189]

Greece
According to Ali Külebi, president of an Ankara-based nationalist think tank TUSAM, “It is obvious that the PKK is supported by Greece, considering the PKK’s historical development with major support from Greece.” Külebi alleged in 2007 that PKK militants received training at a base in Lavrion, near Athens.[190] Retired Greek L.T. General Dimitris Matafias and retired Greek Navy Admiral Antonis Naxakis had visited the organization’s Mahsun Korkmaz base camp in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley in October 1988 along with parliamentarians from the center-left PASOK.[191] At the time it was reported that the general had assumed responsibility for training. Greeks also dispatched arms through the Republic of Cyprus.[191] In December 1993, Greek foreign affairs minister Theodoros Pangalos was quoted as saying “we must be supportive of the Kurdish people to be free”.[192] Greece declined to join Germany and France and the eleven other members at the EU to ban the organization.[192] During his trial, Öcalan admitted, as quoted in Hürriyet, that “Greece has for years supported the PKK movement. They even gave us arms and rockets. Greek officers gave guerrilla training and explosives training to our militants” at a camp in Lavrion, Greece.[193]
Syria
From early 1979 to 1999, Syria had provided valuable safe havens to PKK in the region of Beqaa Valley. However, after the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria, Syria placed restrictions on PKK activity on its soil such as not allowing the PKK to establish camps and other facilities for training and shelter or to have commercial activities on its territory. Syria recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization in 1998.[194] Turkey was expecting positive developments in its cooperation with Syria in the long term, but even during the course of 2005, there were PKK operatives of Syrian nationality operating in Turkey.[167][195]
Iran
Iran provided PKK with supplies in the form of weapons and funds. However, Iran later listed the PKK as a terrorist organization after Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan used Iran’s supply of resources to the PKK on its own soil.[citation needed]
Armenia
Turkish and Azeri sources have alleged in 2007 that PKK maintains camps in the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[196] Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosyan called these allegations “sheer nonsense” in 2008.[197] In May 2008 a commentary in the right-wing newspaper Yeni Şafak claimed that the PKK’s leadership, “perhaps feeling insecure in northern Iraq, was mulling a move to Nagorno-Karabakh.” In response, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry press spokesman Vladimir Karapetian stated, “The unsubstantiated rumors about the intentions on the side of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to move to Nagorno-Karabakh and controlled territories cannot be called anything less than another provocation.”[198]
Republic of Cyprus
Support of the Republic of Cyprus was alleged when Abdullah Öcalan was caught with a Cypriot passport under the name of Mavros Lazaros, a nationalist reporter.
Soviet Union and Russia
Former KGBFSB officer Alexander Litvinenko alleges that PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan was trained by KGBFSB.[199] As of 2008, Russia is still not among the states that list PKK as a terrorist group despite intense Turkish pressure.
United Kingdom
MED TV broadcast for five years in the UK, until its license was revoked by the regulators the Independent Television Commission (ITC) in 1999. The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization since 29 March 2001. In 2008, the United Kingdom detained members of the PKK and seized the assets of the PKK’s representative in Britain, Selman Bozkur, alias “Dr. Hüseyin”. His assets remain frozen.[200]
Support of various European states
The Dutch police had allegedly raided the ‘PKK paramilitary camp’ in the Dutch village of Liempde and arrested 29 people in November 2004, but all were soon released.[201] Denmark allows Kurdish satellite television stations (such as ROJ-TV), which Turkey claims has links with the PKK, to operate in Denmark and broadcast into Turkey.[202]
Various PKK leaders, including Hidir Yalcin, Riza Altun, Zubeyir Aydar, and Ali Haydar Kaytan all lived in Europe and moved freely. The free movement was achieved by strong ties with influential persons. Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of the former President of FranceFrançois Mitterrand, had active connections during the 1990s with elements of the organization’s leadership that forced a downgrade in relationships between the two states.[203] After harboring him for some time, Austria arranged a flight to Iraq for Ali Rıza Altun, a suspected key figure with an Interpol arrest warrant on his name.. Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gül summoned the Austrian ambassador and condemned Austria’s action.[204] On 30 September 1995, while Öcalan was in Syria, Damascus initiated contact with high-ranking German CDU MP Heinrich Lummer and German intelligence officials.
The Chief of the Turkish General Staff during 2007, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, stated that even though the international struggle had been discussed on every platform and even though organizations such as the UN, NATO, and EU made statements of serious commitment, to this day the necessary measures had not been taken.[205] According to Büyükanıt; “this conduct on one side has encouraged the terrorists, on the other side it assisted in widening their activities.[205] 
Sedat Laçiner, of the Turkish think tank ISRO, says that US support of the PKK undermines the US War on Terror.[206] Seymour Hersh claimed that the U.S. supported PEJAK, the Iranian branch of the PKK.[207] The head of the PKK’s militant arm, Murat Karayılan, claimed that Iran attempted to recruit the PKK to attack coalition forces, adding that Kurdish guerrillas had launched a clandestine war in north-western Iran, ambushing Iranian troops.[208]

Designation as a terrorist group

The PKK has been placed on Turkey’s terrorist list, as well as a number of allied governments and organizations.[17]

The European Union — which Turkey aspires to join — in 2011 renewed its official listing of the PKK as group or entity subject to “specific [EU] measures to combat terrorism” under its Common Foreign and Security Policy.[209] First designated as such in 2002, the PKK was ordered to be removed from the EU terror list on 3 April 2008 by the European Court of First Instance on the grounds that the EU had failed to give a proper justification for listing it in the first place.[210] However, EU officials dismissed the ruling, stating that the PKK would remain on the list regardless of the legal decision.[211]

The PKK is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department;[212] in 2018, the United States offered a $12 million reward for information on three PKK leaders.[213]

The PKK is also a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000;[214] the British Prime Minister Theresa May used the phrase “Kurdish terrorism” in 2018, in a certain context.[215]

France prosecutes Kurdish-French activists and bans organizations connected to the PKK on terrorism-related charges,[216] having listed the group as a terrorist organization since 1993.[217] However, French courts often refuse to extradite captured individuals accused of PKK connections to Turkey due to technicalities in French law, frustrating Turkish authorities[failed verification].[218]

The following other individual countries have listed or otherwise labelled the PKK in an official capacity as a terrorist organization:

Australia,[219][220] Austria,[221] Azerbaijan,[222] Canada,[223] Czech Republic,[224] Germany,[225] Iran,[226] Japan,[227] Kazakhstan,[228] Kyrgyzstan,[229] New Zealand,[230] Spain,[231] Syria.[194]

States etc. not designating them as terrorist group

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained at a 2019 press conference that “NATO does not have a public list where we list different organisations as terrorist organisations. Some other national organisations have that kind of list, for instance the UN or . . . and EU, but NATO does not have that kind of public list, where we list terrorist organisations.”[232] Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and fields the group’s second-largest armed contingent.

The PKK has never been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN.

Russia has long ignored Turkish pressure to ban the PKK,[233] and the group is also not included in the official terror blacklist of China (PRC), Brazil, Switzerland, India and Egypt.[234][235]

The government of Switzerland has rejected Turkish demands to blacklist the PKK,[236] though it has taken its own measures to monitor and restrict the group’s activities on Swiss soil, including banning the collection of funds for the group in November 2008.[237]Switzerland considers only those organizations as terrorist organizations which are in the terrorist list of the United Nations.[238]

Flags

Party flags

Flag of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (1978–1995)[239]
Flag of the PKK (1995–2000)[239]
Flag of the PKK (2000-2002)
Flag of the KADEK (2002–2003)[239]
Flag of the Kongra-Gel (KGK) (2003–present)[239][240]
Flag of the PKK (2005–present)[241]

Flags of wings

Flag of the People’s Defense Forces (HPG, Formerly HRK and ARGK)[242][243]
Flag of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK) (1985-2000)[239][244]
Former flag of the Free Women’s Units of Star (YJA-STAR)[242]
Current flag of the YJA-STAR[245]

See also

Related and/or associated organizations

Notes

  1. ^ also rendered as Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, such as on the group’s official website

References…

Further reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan_Workers%27_Party

 

Story 2: Britain Finally Has European Union Divorce Agreement But Will Parliament Approve Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal? — Videos

 

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Nigel Farage Would Prefer a General Election Over Boris Johnson’s Deal | Good Morning Britain

Boris Johnson seeks MPs’ support for Brexit deal in new race against time

The Five 10/18/19 | The Five Fox News October 18, 2019

‘And you thought he was crazy…’ How the world’s newspapers reacted to Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement

But newspapers at home and abroad recognised that while one battle was won, the war continued in Westminster. 

The Prime Minister will on Friday seek to sell his Brexit deal to sceptical MPs, as he returns home fresh from an EU victory but risking defeat in parliament.

Mr Johnson pulled off a major coup in agreeing a new divorce deal with the European Union, paving the way for him to deliver his promise to leave the bloc on October 31.

But Thursday’s deal must still pass the House of Commons, which is meeting for…

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/18/thought-crazy-worlds-newspapers-reacted-boris-johnsons-brexit/

Do the deal! Poll reveals Britain wants MPs to stop the delay and back Boris Johnson today after his Brexit breakthrough

  • 50 per cent of people said MPs should back Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in a Survation Poll for the Daily Mail  
  • A total of 47 per cent believe Mr Johnson’s plan should go to a referendum, compared with 44 against the idea
  • The survey found a surge in support for the Tories following the PM’s breakthrough at this week’s EU summit 
  • MPs will vote on Mr Johnson’s deal on Saturday, the first time Parliament is sitting on the weekend since 1982
  • The vote is set to be incredibly tight, with the PM trying to ‘lovebomb’ Labour MPs and Tory rebels to back him
  • Rebel Tory MP Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment which could force Mr Johnson to request an extension 

Story 3: Hillary Clinton Rampant Russian Delusions, Lying and Paranoia — Russia Dumped Hillary Clinton for Tulsi Gabbard As The Russian Choice For Their Candidate in 2020? — In Your Guts You Know Hillary Is Nuts — Lock Her Up —  Videos — 

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Tucker: Hillary spreads vicious lies about fellow Democrats

Hillary Clinton calls Tulsi Gabbard a “favorite of the Russians”

Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are grooming a Democrat for 2020

Hillary Implies Tulsi Boosted by Russians | The View

Ingraham: Heeere’s Hillary

Hillary Clinton talks about the 2020 presidential election

Tulsi Gabbard: This is what’s so dangerous about Hillary Clinton

Russian to Conclusions: Hillary vs. Tulsi and Jill | The News & Why It Matters | Ep 397

Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are grooming a Democrat for 2020

Tulsi Gabbard fires back at Hillary Clinton’s Russian asset claim

Stein says Clinton promoting ‘unhinged conspiracy theory’

Tulsi Gabbard responds to Hillary Clinton: Clinton “knows she can’t control me”

Max Blumenthal on why Hillary Clinton smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein

Tulsi Gabbard: 9/11 inspired me to enlist in the military

Tulsi Gabbard rips CNN, NY Times for ‘smearing’ her reputation

Tucker: Not everyone in 2020 Democratic field is a lunatic

The Five 10/18/19 | The Five Fox News October 18, 2019

State Dept. finds nearly 600 violations in Clinton’s email scandal

‘You can’t control me’: Defiant Tulsi Gabbard says Hillary has ‘the blood of thousands on her hands’ and calls her the ‘queen of warmongers’ after 2016 loser accused her of being a Russian asset ready to run as an independent candidate

  • Tulsi Gabbard bashed Hillary Clinton during an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Friday
  • She said the former Secretary of State is waging a smear campaign against her because ‘she knows she can’t control me’
  • It comes on the heels of Clinton claiming the Russians were ‘grooming’ a Democratic presidential contender to be a third-party spoiler candidate 
  • ‘They’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,’ Clinton said 
  • In response, Gabbard tweeted that Clinton was ‘the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption’
  • On her appearance on Tucker Carlson, Gabbard also insisted that Clinton has blood on her hands for ‘championing’ the Iraq War
  • Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name but the Hawaii representative has been accused of being a ‘Russian asset’
  • Gabbard, in Tuesday’s debate, said that allegation was ‘completely despicable’

Story 4: Trump Dazzles Dallas — Videos

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FULL TRUMP RALLY: President Trump holds campaign rally in Dallas, Texas

Trump holds a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas

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The Pronk Pops Show 1342, October 16, 2019, Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos –Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decendent and President of Italy — Videos

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Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos

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The Last American Hero – demolition derby

Michael Enters KITT Into The Demolition Derby | Knight Rider

Tucker: 2020 Democrats turn on Warren

Ingraham: Trump wins another Democratic debate

Democrats use fourth debate to unleash attacks on Warren

Fourth Democratic debate analysis and spin room interviews

Watch Democratic Debate Highlights In Ohio

Fourth Democratic debate analysis and spin room interviews

Everything Andrew Yang Said at the Fourth Democratic Debate in Ohio #yanggang

Watch Most Heated Democratic Debate Highlights In Ohio

See what Democratic candidates said about impeaching Trump

Elizabeth Warren cements status as Democratic frontrunner by being focus of rivals’ attack in 2020 debate, but it’s Bernie who gets AOC and her Squad’s coveted endorsement, as all 12 candidates unite behind impeaching Trump

  • A dozen Democratic candidates were in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth primary debate Tuesday night
  • Senator Bernie Sanders took to the stage at Otterbein University just a few weeks after his heart attack 
  • He reassured the crowd of his health saying: ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great!’ 
  • Joe Biden defended his family’s name during the debate despite scrutiny in the Ukraine scandal and his son’s international business dealings saying: ‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong’ 
  • Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was interviewed by ABC News Tuesday morning, where no topic was off limits 
  • Elizabeth Warren has recently emerged as the frontrunner – surpassing Biden in several polls this month 
  • She is facing controversy over claims she was forced from a teaching position because she was pregnant, which critics point out she contradicted in the past
  • Tuesday’s debate started with a united front with all candidates calling for Trump’s impeachment
  • In the first hour Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and called out Elizabeth Warren by questioning her Medicare for All single-payer healthcare plan
  • In the second hour of the debate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria
  • Mayor Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke sparred over his proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles

Democratic presidential candidates who took the stage for the fourth presidential debate in Ohio called for Donald Trump’s impeachment for ‘selling out’ the American people – then blasted emerging front-runner Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But during a prime-time event where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had to field questions about both his health and his age, it is the 78-year old Vermonter who got a jolt when it was revealed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be endorsing his campaign at a Queens rally Saturday. Fellow squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also endorsed Sanders but it’s unclear if she will be at Saturday’s event.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has dominated polling for months, began the debate by defending the conduct of his son’s work in Ukraine on a day Hunter Biden fielded questions during a sit-down interview on his work for a Ukrainian energy company. He said he and his son had ‘done nothing wrong’.

During the first portion of the debate, he spoke on impeachment and his son, then remained on the sidelines for long stretches while Warren, who has jumped in national and state polls, fielded attacks from rivals.

Biden went after Warren directly later in the debate when he said his political rivals didn’t measure up to his accomplishments.

‘I’m the only one on the stage who’s gotten anything really big done,’ Biden said.

Warren countered by citing her work as an architect for what became the Consumer Financial Control Board before she got elected to the Senate. ‘I convinced people to vote for it,’ Biden responded.

Warren parried that she was ‘deeply grateful to president Obama who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law’.

Tuesday's Presidential Debate: (From left to right) Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pette Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Julián Castro took to the debate stage Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio hosted at Otterbein University

The calm before the storm: Tuesday's debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

The calm before the storm: Tuesday’s debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump's impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him 'the most corrupt president in all our history'

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump’s impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history’

Tuesday's debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Tuesday’s debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Sanders also pushed back and Biden for his claim at the expense of the group’s accomplishments.

‘Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what, you also got done, and I say this as a good friend – You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle class families all over this country. You got trade agreements like NAFTA and (trade relations) with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs,’ he said.

Warren spoke for nearly 23 minutes during the three-hour debate, with Biden getting the second-most time, but a full six minutes less, followed by Klobuchar.

The Massachusetts senator responded to a question from CNN after the debate about attacks from some rivals that her health plan would soak the middle class.

‘Yes your taxes will go up, but your overall costs will go down,’ she said.

Warren repeated her call to break up big tech companies like Facebook and Google – another of her proposals that brought her criticism from her rivals.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang compared it to people to wanting to use the number four search engine. ‘There is a reason why no one is using Bing today,’ he quipped.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke over his assault weapon buyback program, and said there was no time for ‘purity tests.’

O’Rourke said the nation must not ‘be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups.’

That prompted Ban angry rejoinder from Buttigieg, who shot back: ‘The problem isn’t the polls. The problems is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.’

Others blasted Warren for the cost of her Medicare-for-all plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told her: ‘I’m sorry Elizabeth. You are making Republican talking points in this room,’ adding: ‘We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’ She told Warren, ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.’

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Warren.

California Sen. Kamala Harris pushed Harris to join her demand that Twitter suspend Donald Trump’s account due to his incendiary tweets.

‘I would urge you to join me,’ she said, saying Trump used the platform to ‘intimidate witnesses, to threaten witnesses, to obstruct justice.’

Warren shot back: ‘I don’t just want to push Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House.’

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages

Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages (left) and Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate (right)

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was 'feeling great' in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was ‘feeling great’ in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

A record 12 Democratic 2020 candidates took to the debate stage in Ohio Tuesday night and immediately united in calling for Donald Trump – the man they all have been planning to run against – to be impeached with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history.’

Meeting for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed a formal impeachment inquiry, the candidates blasted Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, and accused him of self-dealing and ‘selling out’ the American people.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has jumped in the polls, fielded the first question at the fourth Democratic debate. An early caller for Trump’s impeachment, she said: ‘This president has obstructed justice and had done it repeatedly,’ Warren said.

‘Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,’ Warren continued.

Sanders, on stage for the first time since his heart attack, called Trump: ‘The most corrupt president in the history of this country.’

Sanders accused Trump of ‘enriching himself while using the Oval Office … in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehensible.’ He called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ‘do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.’

Biden, whose son Hunter’s business in Ukraine featured in Trump’s push for a probe by the Ukrainian government, called Trump ‘the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history.’

The dozen candidates met in Ohio for the first time since 10 front-runners met in Houston last month. It was the largest Democratic debate in recent memory. Others split candidates into separate pools.

The intervening period featured a dramatic move among House Democrats toward opening an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, after a whistle-blower alleged the president abused his office by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

Billionaire Tom Steyer made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the 'criminal of the White House'

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg took to the stage and said he is the Democratic nominee that will be the 'president that can turn the page'

Billionaire Tom Steyer (left) made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the ‘criminal of the White House’ and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right) claimed he is the Democratic nominee that will be the ‘president that can turn the page’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Kamala Harris defended women's health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night

In a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned his fellow Democratic candidates against 'tearing each other down because we have a different plan'

Sen. Kamala Harris (left) defended women’s health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night and in a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (right) warned his fellow Democratic candidates against ‘tearing each other down because we have a different plan’

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn't specified how she'll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn’t specified how she’ll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Biden delivered yet another defense of his son, on a day when Hunter Biden told ABC he would forego foreign work if his father wins the presidency, acknowledged some responsibility for the appearance of favoritism, and admitted he got jobs due to his father’s name.

‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States in rooting out corruption in Ukraine,’ Joe Biden said when pressed on the issue – while seeking to steer clear of details.

‘My son’s statement speaks for itself what I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office,’ Biden said. ‘Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs, have already proven that they are in fact flat lying,’ Biden intoned, referencing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who pushed Ukraine to probe the Bidens.

Biden argued the focus should be on Trump.

‘This president on three occasions, three occasions has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He is going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum,’ he said. Trump did focus attacks on as the poll leader throughout the summer while officials were deliberating on how to push Ukraine.

His comments came after Biden adviser Anita Dunn told DailyMail.com of Hunter’s performance in an interview designed to move past the issue: ‘He answered all the questions.’

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a former prosecutor, said Trump ‘has committed crimes in plain sight.’ She said Trump had been ‘selling out the American people.’

‘On this issue with Ukraine he’s been selling out democracy,’ Harris said, standing by her statement that she has seen enough evidence to vote to impeach.

‘I know a confession when I see it,’ she said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he feels as much ‘outrage’ as fellow Democrats. But he cautioned: ‘This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship.’

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: 'If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country'

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: ‘If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country’

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, billionaire Tom Steyer and Sen. Cory Booker pictured from left to right on the debate stage

At the top of the debate the candidates squabbled over health care plans and taxes on billionaires

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said 'I don't have beef with billionaires' while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents 'so every other kid in America has a chance to make it'

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said ‘I don’t have beef with billionaires’ while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents ‘so every other kid in America has a chance to make it’

Trump's double standard: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro blasted Trump for 'caging kids on the border' while he is 'effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free' in the Middle East. 'He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster in Syria,' he added

Putting Russia in check: Beto O'Rourke argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin's corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying 'ademas' in place of 'furthermore'

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (left) blasted Trump for ‘caging kids on the border’ while he is ‘effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free’ in the Middle East and Beto O’Rourke (right) argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin’s corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying ‘ademas’ in place of ‘furthermore’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: 'I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax' – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked 'Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?' to Biden and the two shared a hug

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked ‘Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?’ to Biden and the two shared a hug

Tuesday's debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Tuesday’s debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

‘He’s digging up dirt on an opponent. That’s illegal conduct,’ said Klobuchar, also a former prosecutor. ‘I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again.’

‘I would like to hear from him how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again. It doesn’t make America great again, it makes Russia great again,’ she said, playing off Trump’s campaign slogan.

Former Obama Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro said of the impeachment effort: ‘We can walk and chew gum at the same time.’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals.

‘The rich are not like you and me,’ said Warren, calling for her tax on multi-millionaires’ accumulated wealth.

Klobuchar didn’t denounce the idea, but said: ‘Just because we have different ideas and get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on – we are in Ohio, we can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite … and [not] go fighting against each other.’

But as the debate shifted quickly from impeachment to health, the united front crumbled rapidly.

Elizabeth Warren came under attack from her fellow Democrats for not being more specific about how she would pay for her universal health care plan, which some economists predict could cost in the trillions.

‘I have made clear what my principles are here. That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costing will go down,’ the Massachusetts senator said of her support for Medicare for All. ‘Costs will go up for wealthy, for big corporations. They will not go up for middle class families. I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs. Because costs are what people care about.’

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a 'regime change war'

 

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying 'Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values'

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a ‘regime change war’. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying: ‘Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values’

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke's proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: 'I don't need lessons from you on courage — political or personal'

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke’s proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: ‘I don’t need lessons from you on courage — political or personal’

Pete Buttigieg went on the attack against Warren, who has lead recent polls for the Democratic nomination, arguing that her universal health care plan would divide the country over health care.

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ he said. ‘Our country will be polarized, more than now, after everything we have been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be more divide. Why divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all?’

Amy Klobuchar also struck out at Warren, saying she hasn’t said how she will pay for her plan.

‘I’m sorry Elizabeth,’ she said. ‘You are making Republican talking points in this room.’

Klobuchar went on to say: ‘Bernie is being honest. We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’

Sanders had acknowledged earlier in the debate taxes will go up under his Medicare for All plan.

‘As somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for All bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We’re going to do better than the Canadians do. That’s what they have managed to do. At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They will go up significantly for the wealthy and for virtually everybody, the tax increase will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out of pocket expansions,’ he said.

‘I appreciate Elizabeth’s work,’ she added but then said: ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. We can get this public option done.’

Both Klobuchar and Kamala Harris expressed frustration about how many times Democrats have argued about health care, noting they are in the fourth debate and saying the same things on the issue.

‘What bothers me about this discussion, which we had so many times, is that we don’t talk about the things that I’m hearing about from regular Americans. That’s long-term care,’ Klobuchar said. ‘We need long-term care insurance and strengthen Medicare. In Ohio that has been hit by the opioid epidemic, we need to take on the pharmaceutical companies and make them pay for the addictions they have caused in the people they have killed.’

And Harris got an extended round of applause for standing up for the abortion issue, which is of huge importance to Democratic primary voters who are worried judges appointed by Trump will revoke Roe vs. Wade.

‘This is the sixth [sic] debate we have had in this presidential cycle. Not one word with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to health care. It’s outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. It’s not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies. Women are the majority of the population in this country. People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives,’ she said as the heavily Democratic audience cheered loudly.

When the debate turned to foreign policy, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard faced rejoinders from Democrats when she called out both President Trump and threw out blanket attacks on those who back what she termed a ‘regime change war’ in Syria.

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: 'I would love to take him on as a real businessman'

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: ‘I would love to take him on as a real businessman’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg's husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday's debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday’s debate

‘First of all, we’ve got to understand the reality of the situation there, which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria,’ Gabbard said. ‘Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011,’ she continued, before blasting members of the ‘mainstream media’ who she said have been ‘cheerleading this regime change war.’

‘Just two days ago the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable. As president I will end these regime change wars,’ she said.

Gabbard was referencing a recent Times piece that noted the lawmaker, who met with Assad in Syria and has accused fellow Democrats of ‘rigging’ the race, had injected ‘chaos’ in the race, while drawing supportive comments from former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and online approval from Russian bots.

Buttigieg took on Gabbard.

‘Well, respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.’

Buttigieg, who like Gabbard has been deployed overseas as part of the military, said it was wrong to ‘abandon the international stage’ or ‘think our only choices are between endless war and total isolation.’

He said many U.S. troops are ‘ashamed of what their country has done’ by abandoning Kurdish allies who served as a ground force to take on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

‘I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East,’ said Warren. But she said the U.S. should extract its troops ‘the right way,’ then teed off on Trump, saying he has ‘sucked up to dictator,’ has ‘cut and run on our allies,’ and ‘has enriched himself at the expense of the United States of America.’

Warren tried to turn the tables on her rivals when asked about her plan to tax multimillionaires.

‘My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax. It’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?’ she asked.

‘No one is supporting billionaires,’ Biden interjected.

Buttigieg said he was ‘all for’ a wealth tax. ‘I’m all for just about everything that was just mentioned in these answers. Let me tell, though, how this looks from the industrial Midwest where I live. Washington politicians, congressmen and senators, saying all the right things, offering the most elegant policy prescriptions, and nothing changes,’ he said.

Added Warren: ‘So understand, taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does, that the rich are not like you and me. The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.’

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured 'I'm healthy, I'm feeling great' after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him 'for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.' When Cory Booker joked, 'Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana', he joked, 'I'm not on it tonight'

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great’ after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him ‘for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.’ When Cory Booker joked, ‘Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana’, he joked, ‘I’m not on it tonight’

'I'm feeling great!' Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

‘I’m feeling great!’ Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: 'I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House'

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: ‘I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House’

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

Moderators pointed out Biden, 76, would be 80 in office. He replied: 'Look, one of the reasons I'm running is because of my age and my experience, with it comes wisdom. We need someone to take office this time around who on day one can stand on the world stage, command the respect of world leaders from Putin to our allies, and know exactly what has to be done to get this country back on track'

CNN's Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times' Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN’s Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times’ Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age.

‘To the issue of candidates and their health: Senator Sanders, I want to start with you,’ she began.

‘I’m healthy. I’m feeling great,’ Sanders interrupted, drawing laughter from the crowd.

‘And Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana. I want to make sure that’s clear as well,’ Booker jested.

‘I’m not on it tonight,’ Sanders insisted.

‘Senator, we are all very glad you’re feeling well,’ Burnett said.

Then she posed a ‘question on a lot of people’s minds … You’re 78 years old, and you just had a heart attack. How do you reassure democratic voters that you’re up to the stress of the presidency?’

‘Well, let me invite you all to a major rally we’re having in Queens, New York,’ Sanders said. ‘We’re going to have a special guest at that event, and we are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people.’

‘But let me take this moment, if I might, to thank so many people from all over this country, including many of my colleagues up here, for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes,’ Sanders continued. ‘And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening.’ That drew sustained applause from candidates and audience members alike.

Burnett then asked Biden if he could handle the office of the presidency being inaugurated at the age of 80. She also put an age question to Warren, 71.

Any of the three of them would all be the oldest president ever inaugurated in their first term in U.S. history if elected.

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate+46

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he's the most qualified man for the job

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he’s the most qualified man for the job

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ilhan Omar

On Tuesday it was reported that Congress ‘Squad’ member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) would endorse Sen. Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign. Fellow member Ilhan Omar (right) also endorsed Sanders Tuesday night

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577743/TWELVE-Democratic-candidates-meet-stage-Ohio.html

Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos

McCarthy says Pelosi stormed out of meeting with Trump over Syria

Hannity: Trump calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’

Nancy Pelosi: Trump had a meltdown in meeting

Day 1,000: Nancy Pelosi Says Trump Had A ‘Meltdown’ At The White House | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

 

‘See you at the polls’: Trump and Pelosi have it out

 

He said she’s a “third-grade” politician. She said he’s having a meltdown.

And with that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.

It’s a familiar ritual, with Trump and congressional leaders meeting on official business, only to see the session devolve into colorful, name-calling commentary that’s a new kind of addition to the history books. But this time, against the backdrop of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, Pelosi arrived not just as the leader of the opposing party, but as the speaker who could determine Trump’s political future.

The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president’s announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump’s action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country’s long-running war.

Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his “nasty” letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be “slaughtering” the Kurds. The person called Trump’s opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.

Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.” Trump went on, “I captured ISIS.”

Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity.

“All roads with you lead to Putin,” the speaker said.

Then it began.

Trump said to Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”

Pelosi responded, “You don’t know that.”

Schumer intervened at one point and said, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”

Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”

Pelosi said: “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”

Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama’s “red line” over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her “a third-rate politician.”

At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, “This is not useful.”

Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of “meltdown” inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.

Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”

The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.

Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a “total meltdown,” calling her “a very sick person!”

He also tweeted pictures from the room. “Do you think they like me?” he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum.

“Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” he tweeted with another.

In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.

Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump speaks during a reception for Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-7582015/See-polls-Trump-Pelosi-out.html

Story 4: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decedent and President of Italy — Videos

Trump hosts White House reception for Italian president

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The Pronk Pops Show 1335, October 7, 2019, Story 1: United States and North Korea Talks Broken Down For Now — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Will Bring The Troops Home from Syria — Warmongering Interventionists Oppose Trump — Videos

Posted on October 13, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Currencies, Defense Spending, Diet, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Eating, Education, Empires, Employment, European History, Exercise, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Monetary Policy, National Interest, News, Obesity, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Second Amendment, Senate, Spying, Spying on American People, Subornation of perjury, Subversion, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Treason, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Ukraine, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: President Trump Will Bring The U.S. Troops Home from Northeastern Syria — Neocon Warmongering Interventionists Oppose Trump — Trump Ending the Endless Intervention in The Middle East — Long Overdue — Videos

Graham compares Trump to Obama, calls his strategy a ‘big win for ISIS’

Republicans slam Trump over withdrawal of troops from Syria

Trump issues dire warning to Turkey over Syria invasion

Trump’s decision to withdraw from northern Syria may fail: Analyst

US presence in northeast Syria amid Turkey threat

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

The challenge for US with Russia in Syria

Syria’s war: Who is fighting and why

Here’s why the Russian Orthodox Church is deeply connected to the Syrian War

Top two lawmakers blast Trump’s move to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria

by Reuters
Monday, 7 October 2019 18:06 GMT

The top lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Monday condemned the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, which critics fear could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area.

“This decision poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement calling on Trump to “reverse this dangerous decision.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement: “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.” (Reporting by Makini Brice, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert)

Trump sends strong, conflicting signals on Syria, Turkey

By LITA C. BALDOR, MATTHEW LEE and ROBERT BURNS28 minutes ago

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they arrive together for a family photo at a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The White House says Turkey will soon invade Northern Syria, casting uncertainty on the fate of the Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. against in a campaign against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing unusually wide criticism, President Donald Trump sent out strong but conflicting signals on the “endless war” in Syria and Middle East on Monday. He declared U.S. troops would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Kurds who have fought alongside Americans for years but then threatened to destroy the Turks’ economy if they went too far.

Even Trump’s staunchest Republican allies expressed outrage at the prospect of abandoning Syrian Kurds who had fought the Islamic State group with U.S. troops. Trump’s decision appeared to be the latest example of an approach to foreign policy that critics condemn as impulsive, that is sometimes reversed and frequently is untethered to the advice of his national security aides.

Pentagon and State Department officials held out the possibility of persuading Turkey to abandon its expected invasion.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and Turkey had reached an apparent accommodation of Turkish concerns about the presence of Kurdish fighters, seen in Turkey as a threat. American and Turkish soldiers had been conducting joint patrols in a zone along the border. As part of that work, barriers designed to defend the Kurds were dismantled amid assurances that Turkey would not invade.

 

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Graham said Turkey’s NATO membership should be suspended if it attacks into northeastern Turkey, potentially annihilating Kurdish fighters who acted as a U.S. proxy army in a five-year fight to eliminate the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. Graham, who had talked Trump out of a withdrawal from Syria last December, said letting Turkey invade would be a mistake of historic proportion.

“It’s going to lead to ISIS reemergence,” he told Fox News.

U.S. involvement in Syria has been fraught with peril since it started in 2014 with the insertion of small numbers of special operations forces to recruit, train, arm and advise local fighters to combat the Islamic State. Trump entered the White House in 2017 intent on getting out of Syria, and even before the counter-IS military campaign reclaimed the last militant strongholds early this year, he declared victory and said troops would leave.

The strong pushback on Capitol Hill to the late Sunday night announcement prompted Trump to recast his decision but with renewed bombast, portraying it as a threat to strangle Turkey if it carries out its announced intent to invade.

Officials suggested that Trump’s threats against Turkey on Monday morning were reactions to the overwhelming criticism of his earlier announcement that the U.S. would withdraw troops and get them out of the way of the Turkish forces. That announcement came after Trump spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

One official described a botched effort by the White House on Sunday night, putting out a statement that appeared aimed at making Trump look bold for ending a war. The official said attempts by the Pentagon and State Department to make the statement stronger in its opposition to Turkey’s military action were unsuccessful. But in what the official described as a “exercise in damage control” Monday morning, the Pentagon made it clear to the Turkish military that “there will be a major break in relations if you do this.”

The official added that Erdogan appeared to be reconsidering his earlier resolve because he was relatively quiet Monday. But the official cautioned that even if pressure from the U.S. and Europe succeeds in getting Erdogan to back down, the damage done to relations with the Kurds may be irreparable.

An official familiar with the Erdogan call said the Turkish president was “ranting” at Trump, saying the safe zone was not working and that Turkey couldn’t trust the U.S. military to do what was needed. And in reaction, Trump said the U.S. wanted no part of an invasion and would withdraw troops.

The announcement threw the military situation in Syria into fresh chaos and injected deeper uncertainty into U.S. relations with European allies. A French official, speaking on condition of anonymity on a sensitive topic, said France wasn’t informed ahead of time. A Foreign Ministry statement warned Turkey to avoid any action that would harm the international coalition against the Islamic State and noted the Kurds had been essential allies, but entirely omitted any mention of the United States.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

Hours after the White House announcement, two senior State Department officials minimized the effects of the U.S. action, telling reporters that Turkey may not go through with a large-scale invasion and the U.S. was still trying to discourage it. Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss what led to the internal White House decision.

Among the first to leave were about 30 U.S. troops from two outposts who would be in the immediate area of a Turkish invasion. It’s unclear whether others among the roughly 1,000 U.S. forces in northeastern Syria would be moved, but officials said there is no plan for any to leave Syria entirely.

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that a U.S. withdrawal from Syria would be a major boost to Russia’s position there.

He added that other allies in the region, including the Kurds, will “look at this withdrawal as U.S. unwillingness to stand up for its rights and maintain its alliances in the region.”

Trump’s move came at a pivotal moment of his presidency. House Democrats are marching forward with their impeachment inquiry into whether he compromised national security or abused his office by seeking negative information on former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, from foreign countries.

As he faces the impeachment inquiry, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said early Monday on “Fox & Friends” that he had not been briefed by the president about the decision and he had concerns.

“I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us,” he said, adding that, “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”

Former Trump administration officials also expressed alarm.

Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.S. “must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. … Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”

Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years.

___

With contributions from Associated Press writers Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Lori Hinnant in Paris.

https://apnews.com/ac3115b4eb564288a03a5b8be868d2e5

American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Part of the military intervention against ISIL (Operation Inherent Resolve),
Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Secretary Kerry Shakes Hands With Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Before Bilateral Meeting in Austria Focused on Syria (21785218013).jpgKurdish YPG Fighter (22806739779).jpg
Top: Bilateral Meeting in Austria Focused on SyriaBottom: Kurdish YPJ soldier
Date 22 September 2014 – present
(5 years, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Location
Result Ongoing operations

Belligerents
Coalition of foreign countries
Seal of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.svg CJTF–OIR
Air war and ground forces

Airstrikes only

Local ground forces
Flag of Syrian Democratic Forces.svg Syrian Democratic Forces

Limited involvement’
Iraqi Kurdistan

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[15]
[16][17][18]


 al-Qaeda

 Turkistan Islamic Party[29]


 Ahrar al-Sham (Nov. 2014 airstrikes, intentionality disputed)[30][31]

 Syrian Arab Republic (limited 2017–2018 strikes)[32]
Iran (limited aircraft shoot downs)[33][34]
Supported by:
Russia
Commanders and leaders
United States Donald Trump(since 20 January 2017)
United States Barack Obama(until 20 January 2017)
United States Chuck Hagel (until 2015)
United States Ashton Carter (until 2017)
United States James Mattis (until 2019)
United States Patrick M. Shanahan (since 2019)
United States Gen. Lloyd Austin
United States Gen. James L. Terry
United States Gen. Joseph Votel
United States Gen.Stephen J. Townsend
United States Gen. Paul E. Funk II
DenmarkLars Løkke Rasmussen
Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Netherlands Mark Rutte
United KingdomBoris Johnson(since 24 July 2019)
United KingdomTheresa May(13 July 2016 – 24 July 2019)
United KingdomDavid Cameron(until 13 July 2016)
United Kingdom Stephen Hillier
Australia Tony Abbott
Australia Malcolm Turnbull
Australia Trevor Jones
Australia David Johnston
France Emmanuel Macron (since 14 May 2017)
France François Hollande (until 14 May 2017)
France Jean-Yves Le Drian
France Pierre de Villiers
Germany Angela Merkel
Germany Ursula von der Leyen
Germany Volker Wieker
Jordan King Abdullah II
Jordan Abdullah Ensour
Saudi Arabia King Salman
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah Al Saud (Died 2015)
Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud
Morocco King Mohammed VI
Morocco Abdelilah Benkirane
Morocco Bouchaib Arroub
United Arab Emirates Khalifa Al Nahyan
Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Qatar Tamim Al Thani
Qatar Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah
Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria Salih Muslim Muhammad
Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani
Canada Stephen Harper (until November 2015)
Canada Justin Trudeau (until February 2016)
Canada Thomas J. Lawson (until February 2016)Canada Yvan Blondin (until February 2016)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader)[41]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Alaa Afri 
(Deputy Leader of ISIL)[42][43]
 Abu Mohammad al-Adnani  (Spokesperson)
 Abu Ayman al-Iraqi  (Head of Military Shura)[44][45]
 Abu Suleiman  (Replacement Military Chief)[45]
 Abu Ali al-Anbari  (Deputy, Syria)
 Akram Qirbash 
(Top ISIL judge)[43]
 Abu Omar al-Shishani  (Chief commander in Syria) [46][47][48][49]
 Abu Sayyaf  (Senior ISIL economic manager)[50]
 Abu Khattab al-Kurdi  (Commander of the assault on Kobanî)[51][52]


 Abu Khayr al-Masri  (al-Qaeda deputy leader)[53][54]
 Abu Jaber Shaykh (Emir of Tahrir al-Sham, 2017–present)
 Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Leader of the al-Nusra Front)
 Abu Humam al-Shami (al-Nusra Military Chief)[55]
 Abu Hajer al-Homsi  (top al-Nusra military commander)[56]
 Abu Firas al-Suri  (al-Nusra Spokesman)[57][58]
 Abu Muhammed al Ansari 
(al-Nusra Emir of the Idlib Province)
 Ahmad Salama Mabruk  (al-Nusra senior commander)[59]
 Muhsin al-Fadhli  (Leader of Khorasan)[60][61][62]
 Sanafi al-Nasr [63]
 David Drugeon [61][64]
Flag of Jund al-Aqsa.svg Said Arif  (Jund al-Aqsa Military Chief)[26]
 Abu Omar al-Turkistani  (TIP and al-Nusra military commander)[29]


 Abu Jaber Shaykh (2014–2015)[65][66]

 Abu Yahia al-Hamawi (2015–2017)[67]

Syria Bashar al-Assad (President of Syria)
Strength
Coalition forces: Coalition forces-air

Coalition forces-ground


Local forces

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:


al-Qaeda:


Ahrar al-Sham:

Syrian Arab Republic:

Casualties and losses
United States United States:
8 servicemen killed (5 non-hostile)[108][109][110]
2 government contractors killed
F-16 crashed[111]
V-22 Osprey crashed[112]
drones lost[113][114]
Jordan Jordan:
serviceman executed[115]
1 F-16 crashed[116]
United Kingdom United Kingdom:
1 serviceman killed (non hostile)[117]
SAS operators wounded[118]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:
At least 9,145 killed [119]
(per SOHR)


 al-Qaeda:

 Jaysh al-Sunna:
10 killed (per SOHR)[119]


 Ahrar al-Sham:

3 killed (per SOHR)[119][121][122]

 Syrian Arab Republic:
169 soldiers and militiamen killed (per SOHR)[119]
15-100+ Russian mercenaries killed[123][124][125]
4 tanks destroyed[126]
11+ aircraft destroyed[127][128]
SAM batteries destroyed[129]Iran 2 armed drones shot down
4,036 civilians killed by Coalition airstrikes in Syria (Per Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)[119]
[130] 5,900+ civilians killed by ISIL in Syria [131]
Over 420,000 civilians displaced or fled to other countries[132][133]
Number of militants killed possibly higher, due to them covering up their losses.[134]

The American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War refers to the United States-led support of Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria during the course of the Syrian Civil War and active military involvement led by the United States and its allies — the militaries of the United KingdomFranceJordanTurkeyCanadaAustralia and more — against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front since 2014. Since early 2017, the U.S. and other Coalition partners have also targeted the Syrian government and its allies via airstrikes and aircraft shoot-downs.

During the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, the U.S. initially supplied the rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid—including food rations and pickup trucks—but quickly began providing training, money, and intelligence to selected Syrian rebel commanders. At least two U.S. programs attempted to assist the Syrian rebels. One was a 2014 Pentagon program that planned to train and equip 15,000 rebels to fight ISIL, which was canceled in 2015 after spending $500 million and producing only a few dozen fighters.[135] A simultaneous $1 billion covert program called Timber Sycamore ran by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was more successful, but was decimated by Russian bombing and canceled in mid-2017 by the Trump administration.[135]

The Obama administration began surveillance missions on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant‘s positions in Syria in September 2014.[136] On 22 September 2014, the U.S., BahrainJordanQatarSaudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to attack ISIL forces inside Syria,[15][137] as well as the Khorasan group in the Idlib Governorate west of Aleppo and the al-Nusra Front around Raqqa,[21][138] as part of the multinational military intervention against ISIL. As of August 2017, the coalition had flown 168,000 sorties in both Syria and Iraq (mostly against ISIL), with a roughly 45/55 split between the two, respectively.[35] As of late 2015, coalition planes were dropping or launching an average of 67 bombs or missiles a day.[139] The American-led air campaign inflicted heavy losses on ISIL and, alongside special forces operations, artillery strikes, and material and intelligence support to the SDF, catalyzed the loss of the bulk of ISIL’s Syrian territory by March 2019.

The U.S. missile strike on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the U.S. became a deliberate, direct combatant against the Syrian government[140] and marked the start of a series of deliberate direct military actions by U.S. forces against the Syrian government and its allies in May–June 2017 and February 2018.

In mid-January 2018, the Trump administration indicated its intention to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to counter Iran’s influence and oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.[141] In early September 2018, the U.S. began implementing a new strategy that sought to indefinitely extend the military effort, launching a major diplomatic push to achieve American objectives in Syria.[142] However, on 19 December, President Trump unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of the 2,000–2,500 American ground troops in Syria, which was initially set to take place in a 90-day period and to be completed in 2019. The announcement shifted the scope of American interests in the conflict from what was an increasingly open-ended presence to a sudden draw-down. The fear of a power vacuum from a premature U.S. pullout from Syria drew consternation from both American officials and allies, particularly in regards to the potential of imperiling the Kurds in the face of Turkish opportunism, potentially giving Russia and Iran geopolitical wins, and the unintended consequence of allowing breathing room for extremist and terrorist groups operating in Syria to regroup and reorganize.[143][144][145]

After European allies initially refused to commit additional personnel to replace U.S. troops in Syria,[146] and with proliferating concerns over a potential power vacuum, the U.S. announced on 22 February 2019 that instead of a total withdrawal, a contingency force of around 400 American troops would remain garrisoned in Syria indefinitely post-withdrawal, marking a return to a policy of open-ended American military presence in the country.[147] By June 2019, the U.S., led by special anti-ISIL envoy James Jeffrey, had renewed its demands for European allies to compensate for the reduced American ground presence in a joint manner.[148]

The intervention was conducted with strong domestic support; according to Gallup polling in 2014, 61% of Americans supported intervention against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, while 30% were opposed, and 9% undecided.[149] A larger CCGA poll taken in 2016 showed that 72% of Americans supported “conducting airstrikes against violent Islamic extremist groups in Syria”, while 58% also supported “sending special operations forces into Syria to fight violent Islamic extremist groups.” Additionally, a slim majority (52%) supported “enforcing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, including bombing Syrian air defenses.” However, only 26% supported “sending arms and other supplies to anti-government rebel groups in Syria.”[150]

Background

United States diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks have been seen as showing that regime change in Syria may have been a covert foreign policy goal of the U.S. government in the years leading up to the civil war, even during the period when President Barack Obama was publicly engaging with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. A 2006 memorandum by U.S. diplomat William Roebuck of the embassy in Damascus stated:

We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as…the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle.

According to Seymour Hersh and activist Robert Naiman, Roebuck, who went on to be charge d’affairs of the Libyan embassy under Obama, also considered the advantages of promoting religious sectarianism in Syria.[151][152]

Following the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, protests in Syria against the Assad administration were violently suppressed and a civil war began.[153] By 2012 there were several armed opposition groups operating in the country, including the Free Syrian Army, formed in July 2011 by officers who defected from the Syrian Armed Forces. In 2012, the al-Nusra Front was established by the Islamic State of Iraq as the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria. The al-Nusra Front was eclipsed by its own creator, and al-Qaeda severed its ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in February 2014, after an eight-month power struggle.[154]

Military situation in the Syrian Civil War as of April 9, 2019.

 Controlled by Syrian Arab Republic
 Controlled by North Syria Federation (SDF)
 Controlled by the Syrian opposition and Ahrar al-Sham
 Controlled by Turkey and TFSA
 Controlled by the Islamic State (ISIL)
 Controlled by Tahrir al-Sham (al-Nusra)

(For a more detailed, up-to-date, interactive map, see Template:Syrian Civil War detailed map.)

Pre-coalition arming and training of the Syrian opposition

At the direction of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was put in charge the operations worth about $1 billion annually to arm anti-government forces in Syria,[155][156][157][158] an operation which formally began in 2013, more than two years after the start of the civil war in 2011. Prior to 2013, the CIA only supplied certain rebel groups of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid, but later began providing training, funding, and intelligence to selected rebel commanders.[159][160][161] Although a former intelligence adviser who spoke to journalist Seymour Hersh claimed the CIA had been facilitating the flow of arms from Libya to Syria in collaboration with “the UK [United Kingdom], Saudi Arabia and Qatar” since 2012 or 2011,[162] the first confirmed CIA weapons arrived in Spring 2014: “There were just a handful, delivered to only one rebel group carefully vetted by the CIA”. The group, Harakat Hazm, or the Steadfast Movement, showed off the new weapons system by posting the first successful strike on YouTube in April.[163] Another of the groups being vetted was the Islamist Army of Mujahedeen, formed in January 2014 specifically to combat ISIL.[163][164] However, there were indications that the Army of Mujahedeen was still being vetted in September 2014.[165]

In addition to the covert CIA program,[166] on 17 September 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to authorize the executive branch to overtly train and equip Syrian rebels against ISIL forces, at a cost of $500 million.[167][168][169]

July 2014 rescue mission

Following the abduction of a number of foreigners in Syria, on 4 July 2014, the U.S. carried out an operation to rescue foreign hostages being held by ISIL. U.S. airstrikes were conducted against an ISIL military base known as the “Osama bin Laden Camp” while at the same time, two dozen US special forces soldiers parachuted from helicopters near an ISIL-held building, thought to be for high-value prisoners. No prisoners were found in the building and the soldiers were quickly engaged by ISIL forces dispatched from Raqqa, which started a three-hour firefight.[170] U.S. forces concluded that the hostages were no longer at the site and abandoned the rescue attempt. At least five ISIL fighters were killed and one U.S. soldier was wounded. Jordanian forces were also reportedly involved in the operation, with one Jordanian soldier reportedly wounded, but Jordanian involvement was not confirmed. Later on, it was reported that the hostages had been moved 24 hours before the attempted rescue.[170] Following the mission, it was still unclear whether the operation failed due to bad intelligence or whether ISIL forces were alerted in advance of the mission.[171]

In the aftermath of the rescue mission, and purportedly as a response to airstrikes in Iraq, ISIL beheaded three hostages over a one-month period: Americans James Foley[170] and Steven Sotloff on 19 August and 2 September respectively,[172] and Briton David Haines on 13 September.[173]

Surveillance flights over Syria

On 26 August 2014, the U.S. began sending surveillance flights, including drones, over Syria to gather intelligence on ISIL targets. The flights began gathering intelligence that would aid future airstrikes even though airstrikes were not yet authorized at that point.[174] No approval was sought from the Assad government for flights entering Syrian airspace.[175]

U.S.-led coalition against ISIL

The United States had since 2014 led efforts to establish a global coalition to counter ISIL.[176]

On 5 September, 15 September,[177] and 3 December 2014, various sets of countries came together to discuss concerted action against ISIL. Present at all three meetings were the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey and Denmark.

The coalition of 5 September (10 countries) decided to support anti-ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria.[178] On 10 September 2014, U.S. president Barack Obama announced a ″comprehensive″ strategy to counter ISIL that ″in concert with coalition partners <…> will defeat ISIL and deny them safe haven″.[179]

The coalition of 3 December 2014 (sixty countries) that styled itself as the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[180] agreed on a many-sided strategy against ISIL, including cutting off ISIL’s financing and funding and exposing ISIL’s true nature.[180] As of March 2015, the U.S.-led coalition comprised over sixty countries, that contributed in various ways to the effort.[176]

Support for Kurdish-led ground forces

As the Siege of Kobanî continued there were growing calls to also arm the YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish fighting force in Syria heavily involved in the defense of Kobanî.[181] On 20 October 2014, the Turkish foreign ministerMevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that the Turkish government would be allowing Peshmerga from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to cross their border into Kobanî to support Kurdish fighters.[182] The change in policy came after the Turkish government had refused to allow Kurdish fighters and supplies to pass through the border to YPG units in Kobanî, as it viewed the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK.[183] On 28 October, Peshmerga from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government departed Erbil to travel to Turkey and eventually to Kobanî.[184] A total of 152 soldiers were deployed starting with forty vehicles carrying weapons, artillery, and machine guns, along with 80 Peshmerga forces, who crossed the border into Turkey by land with the heavy weapons and then drove to the border near Kobanî.[184] The other 72 soldiers in the contingent flew to Turkey and rejoined the rest of the contingent on 29 October.[184] By the start of November, 152 Kurdish Peshmerga from Iraq and 50 Free Syrian Army fighters had crossed the border into Kobanî with heavy weapons, small arms, and ammunition.[13][84]

On 20 October 2014, the United States began airdropping supplies to Syrian Kurdish forces, including the YPG, that were besieging ISIL-controlled Kobanî.[185] Prior to 20 October, the United States and its anti-ISIL coalition partners in Syria had not provided any supplies to Kurdish forces in their fight against the jihadist group.[185] Much of the reason for the U.S. airdropping supplies was due to the Turkish government’s refusal to allow supplies to pass through their border into Kobanî. The U.S. specifically airdropped weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies supplied by Iraqi Kurdistan intended to supply the Kurdish forces in Syria.[185] On 21 October, a video was released by ISIL showing what it claimed was a bundle of airdropped small arms, ammunition, and other supplies from the United States. The Pentagon said it was analyzing the video and could not at the time confirm whether the video was authentic but that the materials were similar; the video would subsequently be analyzed by the Department of Defense to verify its authenticity.[186] On 22 October, the Pentagon confirmed that one of its airdrops had been intercepted by ISIL elements but downplayed the incident, saying that it most likely would not give ISIL any real advantage in their overall operations.[187]

Coalition arming and training of the Syrian opposition

By January 2015, the United States was set to send 400 troops and hundreds of support staff to countries neighboring Syria in order to train 5,000 opposition soldiers a year for the next three years.[188] The countries taking part in the train-and-equip program were to include Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.[189] The groups that were expected to be armed and trained by the U.S. government included fighters from the Free Syrian Army.[190] In October 2014, the Turkish government agreed to help train and equip some moderate Syrian rebels in Turkey.[191] The Pentagon confirmed that it had selected 1,200 Syrian opposition members to begin training in March 2015, with 3,000 to complete training by the end of 2015.[189]

The successful experience in Kobanî had informed U.S. policy in regard to arming Syrian opposition groups other than the Kurdish YPG, with plans to give other groups technicals equipped with radio and GPS equipment to call in airstrikes.[166] John R. Allen, President Obama’s envoy to the international coalition against ISIL, stated “It is clearly part of our plan, that not only we will train them, and we will equip them with the latest weapons systems, but we will also protect them when the time comes”.[192] In March 2015, the United Kingdom announced that it was sending around 75 military instructors to train Syrian opposition forces.[193][194] The train-and-equip program started on 9 May 2015.[195] On 25 May, Turkey and the U.S. agreed “in principle” on the necessity to support these forces with air support.[196]

However, only about 200 rebel fighters actually began training, the majority of whom left after being required to agree to fight only against ISIL and not the Assad government.[197] By mid-2015, only a group of 54 such fighters (Division 30) had been deployed – which was quickly routed in an ambush by al-Nusra[198] – and a further 100 had been thus far finished training in Jordan.[199] In September 2015, it was reported that a further 100-120 were being trained in a second wave,[200] with 75 more Division 30 fighters reported to have re-entered Syria at the end of the month; they were immediately attacked by al-Nusra.[201]

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that in December 2015 the U.S. shipped 994 tonnes of weapons and ammunition (including packaging and container weight), generally of Soviet-type equipment from Eastern Europe, to Syrian rebel groups under the ongoing CIA Timber Sycamore operation. A detailed list of weapon types and shipment weights had been obtained from the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.[202][203] As of July 2016, extensive arms shipments were continuing.[204][205][206]

It was reported in July 2017 that the Donald Trump administration decided to “phase-out” the CIA program to equip and train anti-government rebel groups.[207][208][209]

Multinational air war

Preparations for American airstrikes

In his address to the nation on 10 September 2014, U.S. President Obama announced his intention to bomb ISIL targets in Syria and called on Congress to authorize a program to train and arm rebels who were fighting ISIL and the Syrian forces of Bashar al-Assad.[210] For the first time, he authorized direct attacks against the militant group in Syria. In his address, he said the United States were going on offensive, launching “a steady, relentless effort to take out” the group “wherever they exist.” Obama also announced creating of a broader coalition against ISIL.[211]

Commenting on Obama’s address, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich [ru] opposed the U.S. intervention against ISIL in Syria “without the consent of the legitimate government” and said that “this step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law”. Ali Haidar, Syrian minister of national reconciliation, said that “any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria”.[212]

On 17 September, the U.S. House of Representatives approved Obama’s plan to train and arm the Syrian rebels in their fight against ISIL. In a statement following the House vote, Obama said that the United States would not send military troops to Syria.[213] The Senate gave final congressional approval to Obama’s proposal the next day.[214]

The U.S. did not request permission from the Syrian government, nor did it coordinate its actions with the Syrian government, provide direct notification to the Syrian military or give indication of timing on specific targets, but it did notify the Syrian U.N. representative, which the Syrian government confirmed.[215]

Before the airstrikes began, the United States also informed Iran, the Assad government’s largest regional ally, of their intention to launch airstrikes. It did not share specific timing or targets of strikes with the Iranian government but reportedly assured it that the US would not strike any Syrian government targets.[216]

Contributing countries

Timeline

Map of the first round of U.S. and coalition strikes in Syria

2014

September 2014 — Airstrikes begin

Tomahawk cruise missile launching from USS Arleigh Burke to strike ISIL targets in Syria on 23 September

On 22 September, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed that the United States and other partner nations had undertaken strikes in Syria using fighters, bombers, and Tomahawk missiles in strikes authorized by President Barack Obama.[219] BahrainJordanQatarSaudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were identified as countries conducting or supporting airstrikes the first night.[10] The initial strikes were coordinated by United States Central Command[12] and targeted about 20 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targets, including headquarters buildings.[220] Sources in Syria claimed that among the targets was also Brigade 93, a Syrian army base that the militants had recently captured and targets in the towns of Tabqa and Tel Abyad in Raqqa Province.[221]

The U.S. also targeted the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front and the Khorasan Group[222] in the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates of Syria.[223]

F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were reported to be among the U.S. aircraft striking targets in Syria on the first night of the campaign, carrying out their first combat missions ever since entering service in 2005.[70]

At least 70 ISIL fighters, 50 fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda, and eight civilians were killed overnight by the airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights while eight strikes were launched against the Khorasan group.[224]

Syrian military radar was “passive” during the first air strikes, with no attempt to counter US aircraft.[225] During the first night of airstrikes, the United States’ force deployed with HARM missiles as a precaution, as it was uncertain how Syria’s air-defense network would react.[226]

File:Sept 23 ISIL compound strike.WebM

A U.S. Air Force fighter jet drops ordnance on an ISIL compound in Raqqa, Syria on 23 September 2014.

On 24 September, the United States and coalition partners conducted a second round of airstrikes on ISIL facilities in Syria. The airstrikes were targeting oil production facilities controlled by ISIL who had been using the oil in order to fund their activities. Some targets were apparently also mobile production facilities which were most likely not refineries.[227]

In a third round of airstrikes on ISIL targets on 25 September, Arab partners led the U.S. in strikes against militant-held oil facilities in northeastern Syria. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates dropped 80 percent of the bomb tonnage in the third round of strikes, compared to other strikes in which the United States lead Arab partners.[228]

On 26 September, the U.S. carried out a fourth round of airstrikes on ISIL targets in Eastern Syria. The strikes were targeting ISIL heavy equipment and destroyed four of their tanks in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate.[229]

In a fifth round of airstrikes in Syria on 27 September, the U.S. led strikes along with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE against ISIL forces in the Kobanî Canton of Syrian Kurdistan. The strikes destroyed two armored vehicles and an unknown number of fighters in an area that had been under siege by ISIL militants. The siege by Islamic State fighters had recently forced over 100,000 Syrian Kurds to flee across the border to Turkey.[230]

On 28 and 29 September, the U.S. carried out two rounds of strikes against ISIL positions across Syria in 4 provinces. Among the facilities targeted was the entrance to the largest gas plant in Syria, in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, and ISIL training camps and vehicles near an ISIL-controlled grain silo in Manbij.[231]

October 2014

F/A-18 Hornets takes off from USS George H.W. Bush to strike ISIL targets in Syria

In an eighth round of airstrikes in Syria on 1 October, the U.S. and coalition partners struck ISIL targets in Northern Syria. The daytime strikes targeted ISIL forces laying siege to Kobanî, a primarily Kurdish city in Syrian Kurdistan, in support of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Free Syrian Army, who were defending the city.[232]

On 2 October, the U.S. led a ninth round of strikes, along with the UAE, against ISIL forces across Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL checkpoint near Kobanî, damaged a tank north of Sinjar Mountain, destroyed a tank west of Raqqa, and destroyed several ISIL facilities east of Aleppo.[233]

In a 10th round of airstrikes in Syria on 3 October, the U.S., assisted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, struck ISIL forces in Northern and Eastern Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL garrison south of Al-Hasakah, destroyed two tanks southeast of Deir ez-Zor, destroyed two modular oil refineries and a training camp south of Raqqa, and struck an ISIL building northeast of Aleppo.[234]

On 4 October, the U.S. led an 11th round of airstrikes, along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, against ISIL forces across Syria. The U.S. and partner nations carried out nine strikes, destroying an ISIL infantry unit, armored personnel carrier, and a vehicle south of Kobanî. They also destroyed a tank and a vehicle southeast of Deir ez-Zor, damaged the Tabqa airfield and destroyed an artillery piece near Raqqa, as well as an ISIL depot and logistics complex south of Al-Hasakah.[235]

In a 12th round of airstrikes in Syria on 5 October, the U.S. carried out three airstrikes against ISIL forces in Central and Eastern Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL tanks and another vehicle northwest of Mayadin, and destroyed six firing positions and a large ISIL unit northwest of Raqqa.[236]

On 6 October, the U.S. carried out a 13th round of airstrikes in Syria against ISIL forces across Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL tank near Tabqa airfield west of Raqqa, destroyed two fighting positions south of Kobanî, and destroyed a tank southeast of Deir ez-Zor.[237]

In a 14th round of airstrikes in Syria on 7 October, the U.S., assisted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, carried out nine strikes damaging multiple ISIL-controlled buildings west of Al-Hasakah, damaging a staging area and IED production facility northeast of Deir ez-Zor, destroying three armed vehicles, damaging one armed vehicle, destroying a vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery, destroying an ISIL tank, and an ISIL unit in and around Kobanî, and killing a small group of fighters southwest of Rabiyah.[238]

On 8 October, the U.S. led a 15th round of nine airstrikes along with the UAE, destroying an armored personnel carrier, four armed vehicles, an artillery piece, and damaged another armed vehicle in and around Kobanî, striking an ISIL training camp and fighters northwest of Raqqa, and destroying a tank northwest of Deir ez-Zor.[239]

In a 16th round of airstrikes in Syria on 9 October, the U.S. carried out nine airstrikes in the areas in and around the besieged border town of Kobanî. The U.S. carried out six airstrikes south of Kobanî that destroyed two ISIL-held buildings, one tank and one heavy machine gun along, a fighting position along with one large and two small ISIL units. North of Kobanî, the U.S. struck two small ISIL units and destroyed two ISIL-held buildings.[240]

A before and after picture of an ISIL command and control center, after an F-22 airstrike on 23 September

On 10 October, the U.S. led a 17th round of airstrikes along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, carrying out nine strikes that destroyed two ISIL training facilities, three vehicles, damaging a tank and striking two ISIL units in and around Kobanî. The strikes also destroyed an armored vehicle staging facility east of Deir ez-Zor and struck a small ISIL unit northeast of Al-Hasakah.[241]

In an 18th round of airstrikes in Syria on 11 October, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî. The U.S. carried out four strikes north of Kobanî striking a fighting position, damaging a command and control facility, destroying a staging building, and striking two small ISIL units. South of Kobanî, two airstrikes destroyed three trucks.[242]

On 12 October, the U.S. led a 19th round of airstrikes along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, carrying out four strikes — three in Kobanî, destroying a fighting position and a staging area, and one strike northwest of Raqqa, destroying an armored vehicle compound.[243] Also on 12 October, the U.S. announced that the Turkish government had approved the use of Turkish military bases by Coalition forces fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq. These installations included key bases only 160 km (100 mi) from the Syrian border and important U.S. military bases in Turkey such as the Incirlik Air Base.[244][245] Despite the announcement of Turkish government approval, on 13 October, Turkish officials publicly denied that any agreement had been made over Coalition use of Turkish airbases, including Incirlik.[246]

In a 20th round of airstrikes in Syria on 13 October, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia carried out eight airstrikes against ISIL forces. Seven of the strikes were in and around Kobanî, striking a large ISIL unit, two small units; damaging one staging location and destroying another, destroying a heavy-machine-gun firing position, destroying three buildings, and damaging two others. One other strike northwest of Raqqa struck an ISIL garrison.[247]

On 14 October, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia carried out the 21st round and the largest set of strikes against ISIL in Syria since the beginning of the intervention, with 21 strikes against targets in and around Kobanî, and an additional strike near Deir ez-Zor. According to the Department of Defense, the strikes were designed to interdict ISIL reinforcements and resupply zones and prevent ISIL from massing combat power on the Kurdish-held portions of Kobanî. The strikes destroyed two staging locations and damaged another, destroyed one ISIL building and damaged two others, damaged three ISIL compounds, destroyed one truck, one armed vehicle, and one other vehicle near Kobanî in support of Kurdish forces resisting the |siege of the town. In addition to those targets, the airstrikes struck seven staging areas, two mortar positions, three ISIL occupied buildings, and an artillery storage facility. An additional strike near Deir ez-Zor struck a modular oil refinery.[248]

F/A-18 Super Hornet taking off from USS Carl Vinson before carrying out strikes on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 22nd round of airstrikes on 15 October, the U.S. carried out 18 strikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed multiple fighting positions and also successfully struck sixteen ISIL-occupied buildings.[249]

On 16 October, the U.S. carried out a 23rd round of airstrikes with 14 airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî striking 19 ISIL-controlled buildings, two command posts, three fighting positions, three sniper positions, one staging location, and one heavy machine gun position.[250]

In a 24th round of airstrikes on 17 October, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî and in north-eastern Syria. Six airstrikes took place near Kobanî, striking three ISIL-controlled buildings; they also destroyed two fighting positions, suppressed three fighting positions, and destroyed two vehicles. One other airstrike near Al-Shaddadi struck ISIL-controlled oil collection equipment, including several petroleum, oil, and lubricants tanks, and a pump station.[251]

On 20 October, the U.S. carried out a 25th round of airstrikes, with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed ISIL fighting positions, ISIL mortar positions, a vehicle, and one stray equipment supply bundle from a U.S. airdrop of Kurdish supplies in order to prevent the supplies from being captured.[252]

In a 26th round of airstrikes on 21 October, the U.S. carried out four airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL-controlled building, and a large ISIL unit.[253] The British Royal Air Force began operating over Syria in a surveillance role on the same date, making the UK the first Western country other than the U.S. to operate in both Iraq and Syria simultaneously.[81]

On 22 October, the U.S. carried out a 27th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL-controlled building and an ISIL logistical center.[254]

In a 28th round of airstrikes on 23 October, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Four strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL command and control center near Kobanî. Two strikes east of Deir ez-Zor destroyed several ISIL oil storage tanks.[255]

On 24 October, the U.S. carried out a 29th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and struck three ISIL units.[256]

In a 30th round of airstrikes on 25 October, the U.S. carried out one strike near Kobanî, destroying an ISIL artillery piece.[257]

On 26 October, the U.S. carried out its 31st round of airstrikes with five airstrikes against ISIL targets near Kobanî, destroying seven ISIL vehicles and an ISIL-controlled building.[258]

An F-22 Raptor being refueled prior to an airstrike on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 32nd round of airstrikes on 27 October, the U.S. carried out four strikes near Kobanî, destroying five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL-occupied building.[259]

On 28 October, the U.S. carried out its 33rd round of airstrikes, with four airstrikes conducted against ISIL targets near Kobanî, destroying four ISIL fighting positions and a small ISIL unit.[260]

In a 34th round of airstrikes on 29 October, the U.S. carried out eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, a small ISIL unit, six ISIL vehicles, an ISIL-controlled building, and an ISIL command and control node.[261]

On 30 October, the U.S. carried out a 35th round of airstrikes, with 12 airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî, and against targets near Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. 10 strikes near Kobanî struck two small ISIL units, destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, and five ISIL-controlled buildings. One strike near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL headquarters building while another strike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL security building.[262]

In a 36th round of airstrikes on 31 October, the U.S. carried out four airstrikes in and around Kobanî, damaging four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL controlled building.[263]

Naming of Operation Inherent Resolve[edit]

Unlike previous U.S. combat operations, no name had been given to the American intervention in Syria and Iraq until it was announced in mid-October that the operational name would be Inherent Resolve.[264][265] The decision to keep the conflict nameless until then drew considerable media criticism.[266][267]

November 2014[edit]

On 1 November, the U.S. carried out a 37th round of airstrikes with five airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes suppressed or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, and struck one ISIL-controlled building.[268]

In a 38th round of airstrikes on 2 November, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck five small ISIL units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles. Two airstrikes southeast of Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL tank and two vehicle shelters.[268]

On 3 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 39th round of airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Four airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck an ISIL fighting position, a small ISIL unit, and destroyed two ISIL-controlled buildings. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL-controlled building.[268]

In a 40th round of airstrikes on 4 and 5 November, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and north of Sinjar just across the Iraq-Syria border. Three airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck a small ISIL unit, two ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL dump truck that was used in the construction of fighting positions. One airstrike north of Sinjar destroyed an ISIL fighting position, used to launch mortar attacks, and struck a small ISIL unit manning the position. Two additional strikes north of Sinjar struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.[269]

USS Carl Vinson and support ships deployed for combat operations in Syria and Iraq.

On 6 and 7 November, the U.S. carried out a 41st round of airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Tell Abyad. Seven strikes in and around Kobanî struck three small ISIL units, seven ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed an ISIL artillery piece. One airstrike near Tell Abyad destroyed an ISIL weapons stockpile.[270]

In a 42nd round of airstrikes between 8 and 10 November, the U.S. carried out 23 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. 13 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck an ISIL vehicle and five small ISIL units, destroyed an ISIL-occupied building used as an ammunition stockpile, an ISIL command and control building, and seven ISIL fighting positions, as well as damaging two ISIL fighting positions. In addition, eight airstrikes southeast of Deir ez-Zor damaged several structures of an ISIL oil collection facility, which was used to trans-load oil for the black market, while two airstrikes east of Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL oil collection point.[271]

Between 11 and 12 November, the U.S. carried out a 43rd round of airstrikes with 16 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Al-Hasakah. 10 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck eight small ISIL units, damaged three ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed an ISIL logistics facility. Four airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL crude oil collection facility, struck a small ISIL unit, and damaged an ISIL vehicle. Two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah damaged a crude oil collection point.[272]

In a 44th round of airstrikes between 13 and 14 November, the U.S. carried out 20 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, east of Deir ez-Zor, west of Aleppo, and east of Raqqa. 17 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck ten ISIL units, destroyed 10 fighting positions, an ISIL controlled building, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL motorcycle. One airstrike east of Raqqa destroyed an ISIL training camp and another airstrike east of Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL oil collection point. One other airstrike west of Aleppo struck militants associated with the Khorasan group.[273]

Between 15 and 17 November, the U.S. carried out a 45th round of airstrikes with 11 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, suppressed an ISIL fighting position, destroyed four ISIL staging areas, and struck one tactical ISIL unit. Two airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor struck an ISIL crude oil collection facility and destroyed one ISIL tank.[268]

In a 46th round of airstrikes between 18 and 19 November, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, southeast of Al-Hasakah, and near Hazm. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL staging area and three ISIL controlled buildings, suppressed two ISIL fighting positions, struck two tactical ISIL units, and a large ISIL unit. One airstrike southeast of Al-Hasakah damaged a crude oil collection point operated by ISIL while another airstrike near Hazm struck and destroyed a storage facility associated with the Khorasan Group.[274]

Between 20 and 21 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 47th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed four ISIL staging areas, two ISIL-controlled buildings, two ISIL tactical units, and suppressed an ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL barracks building.[268]

In a 48th round of airstrikes between 22 and 24 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL fighting positions along with two ISIL staging areas, damaged an ISIL staging area, and suppressed four ISIL fighting positions. Two strikes near Raqqa struck an ISIL headquarters building.[275]

Between 25 and 26 November, the U.S. carried out a 49th round of airstrikes with 10 airstrikes in and around Kobanî striking an ISIL fighting position, a large ISIL unit, two tactical ISIL units, and destroying four ISIL staging areas and six ISIL fighting positions.[276]

In a 50th round of airstrikes between 27 and 28 November, the U.S. carried out two airstrikes near Kobanî and Aleppo. One airstrike near Kobanî struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL staging area while one airstrike near Aleppo struck a tactical ISIL unit.[268]

A coalition airstrike on ISIL positions in Kobanî.

Between 29 November and 1 December, the U.S. carried out a 51st round of airstrikes with 27 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Raqqa, and near Aleppo. 17 airstrikes near Kobanî destroyed two ISIL-occupied buildings, three ISIL tanks, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, three ISIL vehicles and two ISIL staging areas. It also struck seven tactical ISIL units, targeted six ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL-controlled building. Nine airstrikes near Raqqa struck an ISIL electronic warfare garrison, an ISIL military garrison, an ISIL headquarters building, an ISIL jamming system, an ISIL tank and 14 ISIL vehicles while one airstrike near Aleppo struck a target associated with the Khorasan Group.[277]

December 2014

An F-16 Fighting Falcon being refueled after an airstrike on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 52nd round of airstrikes between 1 and 3 December, the U.S. carried out 14 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying an ISIL vehicle, 17 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL staging area, and suppressed eight other fighting positions and stuck a large ISIL unit.[278]

Between 4 and 8 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 53rd round of airstrikes with 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-occupied buildings, two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL tanks, an ISIL motorcycle, a mortar, and struck eight tactical ISIL units along with two ISIL fighting positions. One airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL electronic warfare garrison.[279]

In a 54th round of airstrikes between 9 and 10 December, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, destroying five ISIL fighting positions, striking three ISIL fighting positions, and striking a large ISIL unit.[280]

Between 11 and 12 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 55th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Aleppo, and near Al-Qa’im, Iraq. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and struck one ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Aleppo struck five ISIL-occupied buildings while another airstrike near Al-Qa’im on the Syrian border destroyed two ISIL fortifications.[281]

In a 56th round of airstrikes between 13 and 15 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Abu Kamal. Eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL-controlled buildings, and two ISIL staging positions as well as striking one ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Abu Kamal destroyed an ISIL vehicle.[282]

Between 16 and 17 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 57th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Abu Kamal. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed an ISIL controlled building, one ISIL staging area, one ISIL bunker, and an ISIL mortar, and struck two ISIL tactical units, two additional buildings, and two ISIL fighting positions. One airstrike near Abu Kamal destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.[283]

In a 58th round of airstrikes on 18 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying seven ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL building, and struck a tactical unit.[284]

A member of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army prepares to launch a BGM-71 TOW at a Syrian Army position in southern Syria, December 2014

On 19 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 59th round of airstrikes with four strikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Three airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed two ISIL controlled buildings and an ISIL staging area as well as striking two ISIL tactical units. One airstrike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL training compound.[285]

In a 60th round of airstrikes on 20 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying eight ISIL fighting positions.[268] On 21 December, the Coalition carried out a 61st round of airstrikes with three strikes in and around Kobanî destroying an ISIL staging position and two ISIL fighting positions as well as striking two ISIL fighting positions.[268]

In a 62nd round of airstrikes on 22 December, the Coalition carried out 12 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Aleppo, near Al-Hasakah, and near Raqqa. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed six ISIL fighting positions and struck four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL tactical unit. Three airstrikes near Aleppo destroyed artillery equipment and struck 10 ISIL buildings; two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle, two ISIL trucks, a building, and two ISIL storage containers, and one airstrike near Raqqa destroyed an ISIL checkpoint complex.[286]

On 23 December, the Coalition carried out a 63rd round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building and struck several ISIL fighting positions and one airstrike near Barghooth struck ISIL oil collection equipment.[287]

In a 64th round of airstrikes on 24 December, the Coalition carried out ten airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. Eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building, an ISIL staging position, and struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor struck a crude oil collection point and another airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL weapons stockpile.[268]

On 25 December, the Coalition carried out a 65th round of airstrikes with 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Al-Hasakah, and near Raqqa. 13 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL buildings, one vehicle, 17 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL staging positions as well as striking two ISIL fighting positions, three large ISIL units and four ISIL tactical units. One airstrike near Al-Hasakah struck an ISIL drilling tower and destroyed two support vehicles and another airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL assembly area.[268]

In a 66th round of airstrikes on 26 December, the Coalition carried out four airstrikes in and around Kobanî, destroying three ISIL buildings and two ISIL vehicles.[268] On 29 December, the Coalition carried out a 67th round of airstrikes with 12 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. 10 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, and an ISIL storage container, and struck an ISIL tactical unit. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor struck several ISIL-controlled buildings while another airstrike near Raqqa also struck several ISIL-controlled buildings.[288]

In a 68th round of airstrikes on 30 December, the Coalition carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL buildings, damaged one ISIL building, and struck an ISIL tactical unit while one airstrike near Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL shipping container.[289]

On 31 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 69th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Al-Hasakah. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL buildings and six ISIL fighting positions while two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah destroyed four oil derricks controlled by ISIL.[290]

2015

January 2015

King Salman of Saudi Arabia with President Obama in January 2015. Saudi Arabia was involved in the CIA-led Timber Sycamore covert operation to train and arm Syrian rebels.[291]

In a 70th round of airstrikes on 1 January, the Coalition carried out 17 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. 13 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed 12 ISIL controlled buildings, four ISIL fighting positions, one ISIL vehicle as well as striking two ISIL tactical units and two large ISIL units. Two airstrikes near Raqqa destroyed five ISIL checkpoints and struck an ISIL staging area, while two airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL fighting position and struck an ISIL shipping container.[268]

February 2015 – Al-Hasakah offensive

On 5 February 2015, Jordan elevated its role in the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, launching one of the largest airstrike campaigns since early January 2015, targeting ISIL militants near Raqqa, the then-de facto ISIL capital, inflicting an unknown number of casualties and damaging ISIL facilities. This was done in retaliation against ISIL’s brutal murder of Muath al-Kasasbeh.[292][293]

On 6 February, a continued round of Coalition airstrikes at Raqqa killed over 30 ISIL militants.[294]

On 21 February, Syrian Kurds launched an offensive to retake ISIL-held territories in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, specifically in the Tell Hamis area, with support from U.S. airstrikes. At least 20 villages were liberated, and 12 militants were killed in the clashes.[295] In response, on 23 February, ISIL abducted 150 Assyrian Christians from villages near Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria, after launching a large offensive in the region.[296][297]

As a result of ISIL’s massive offensive in the west Al-Hasakah Governorate, the U.S.-led Coalition increased the number of airstrikes in the region to 10, on 24 February, in order to halt the ISIL advance. The airstrikes struck nine ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.[268]

On 26 February, the number of Assyrian Christians abducted by ISIL from villages in northeastern Syria from 23–25 February rose to at least 220, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a monitoring group based in Britain.[298][299]

On 27 February, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Kurdish fighters had recaptured the town of Tell Hamis, along with most of the villages occupied by ISIL in the region. At least 127 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes, along with 30 YPG and allied fighters.[300] One Australian volunteer, who was fighting for the YPG, was also killed.[301] Many of the remaining ISIL militants retreated to Tell Brak, which quickly came under assault from the YPG and allied Arab fighters.

March–April 2015 – Battle of Sarrin and expanded Canadian and UK efforts

On 1 March 2015, YPG fighters, aided by U.S. airstrikes, were able to drive ISIL militants out of Tell Brak, reducing the ISIL occupation in the eastern Jazira Canton to the villages between Tell Brak and Tell Hamis.[302]

On 6 March, it was reported that Abu Humam al-Shami, al-Nusra‘s military chief, was killed in a U.S. airstrike targeting a meeting of top al-Nusra leaders, at the al-Nusra Front’s new headquarters at Salqin.[55]

On 9 March, the U.S. carried out another airstrike on the al-Nusra Front, targeting a military camp near Atimah, close to the Turkish border in the Idlib Governorate. The airstrike left nine militants dead.[303]

On 24 March, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would be looking to expand Operation Impact to include airstrikes against ISIL in Syria as well.

On 26 March, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of around 75 military trainers and headquarter staff to Turkey and other nearby countries in the anti-ISIL coalition, to assist with the U.S.-led training programme in Syria. The programme was set to provide small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to Syrian moderate opposition forces for over three years.[193]

On 30 March, the House of Commons of Canada authorized the extended deployment of its military for one year and to conduct operations related to the war in Syria.[304]

On 8 April, Canada initiated airstrikes in Syria, with two CF-18 fighters bombing a former military installation of the Syrian government that was captured by ISIL, near its headquarters in Raqqa.[304]

May 2015 – Al-Amr special forces raid

On 15 May, after surveillance by British special forces confirmed the presence of a senior ISIL leader named Abu Sayyaf in al-Amr,[305] 1st SFOD-Delta operators from the Joint Special Operations Command based in Iraq conducted an operation to capture him. The operation resulted in his death when he tried to engage U.S. forces in combat and the capture of his wife Umm Sayyaf. The operation also led to the freeing of a Yazidi woman who was held as a slave. About a dozen ISIL fighters were also killed in the raid, two U.S. officials said. The SOHR reported that an additional 19 ISIL fighters were killed in the U.S. airstrikes that accompanied the raid. One official said that ISIL Forces fired at the U.S. aircraft, and there was reportedly hand-to-hand combat during the raid. UH-60 Black Hawk and V-22 Osprey helicopters were used to conduct the raid, and Umm Sayyaf was held by U.S. forces in Iraq.[50][306][307]

CNN reported that a senior U.S. military official revealed that in May 2015, U.S. special operations forces came “tantalisingly close” to capturing or killing ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Raqqa, but failed to do so because classified information was leaked to the news media.[308]

Secretary of State John Kerry with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, before a bilateral meeting focused on Syria, 2015

Coalition air support was decisive in the YPG victory over ISIL in the May 2015 Western al-Hasakah offensive.

June–July 2015

U.S. air support, particularly from the 9th Bomb Squadron, was decisive in the YPG victory over ISIL in the Second Battle of Sarrin.[309] Coalition air support was also decisive in the YPG/FSA victory over ISIL in the Tell Abyad offensive.[310]

Following a 20 July suicide bombing in the Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey, believed to have been carried out by ISIL militants, as well as an ISIL cross-border attack that killed a Turkish serviceman on 23 July, Turkish armour and aircraft struck ISIL targets in cross-border engagements in northern Syria. Turkey also agreed to let the United States use the USAF Incirlik Air Base for strikes against ISIL.[311][312]

August–October 2015 – UK drone strike and Canada ceases airstrikes

On 21 August, three Islamic State fighters, two of United Kingdom nationality, were targeted and killed in Raqqa by a British Royal Air Force MQ-9 Reaper strike. Prime Minister David Cameron gave a statement to Parliament that one of the British nationals targeted had been plotting attacks in the UK. Another British national was killed in a separate air strike by U.S. forces in Raqqa on 24 August.[313]

Military situation in November 2015

In October 2015, 50 U.S. special forces operators were deployed to northern Syria to help train and coordinate anti-ISIL forces in the region.[314]

The introduction of Russian aircraft and ship based cruise missiles in support of the Syrian Government to Syrian airspace created new threats to the U.S.-led coalition. Discussions were held to deconflict Syrian airspace.

On 10 October, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported claims that two U.S. F-16 jets had “violated Syrian airspace” and bombed two electricity power plants in al-Rudwaniya, east Aleppo, “in breach of international law“.[315]

On 20 October, Canada’s Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau informed Barack Obama by phone of Canada’s intention to pull out of bombing raids in Syria. Canada would remain a coalition partner but will stop strikes.[316]

November–December 2015 – French retaliation and the UK officially begins airstrikes

U.S.-backed YPG fighters in November 2015

After deadly terror attacks in Paris conducted by jihadists, French President Francois Hollande sent its only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, with its 26 fighters to intensify air strikes.[317]

On 27 November, SANA claimed that the coalition targeted water pumping stations in al-Khafsah area, east of Aleppo, causing them to go out of service.[318][319] According to Bellingcat‘s investigation, however, it was Russian MoD bombing[320]

On 2 December, the UK parliament voted 397-223 in favour of airstrikes in Syria.[321] Within hours, RAF Tornado jets carried out their first air strikes, targeting the al-Omar oil fields near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, which were under ISIL control.[322]

On 6 December, a Syrian Arab Army base at Deir ez-Zor was struck, killing at least one Syrian Arab Army soldier, with reports circulating that as many as four were killed, 13 wounded and two tanks destroyed. Syria accused the U.S. of conducting the strike, however U.S. officials denied this, claiming instead that the bombing was a mistake by Russians.[323] After the airstrikes, the SAA reported that ISIL forces began to attack the base.[324]

2016

March–April 2016 – Continued special forces operations

On 4 March, a U.S.-led Coalition airstrike targeted Omar al-Shishani, ISIL’s top field commander, who was travelling in a convoy near al-Shaddadi in northeastern Syria; the strike injured him, and supposedly died from his injuries,[325][326][327] however this was incorrect and he was actually killed later in an airstrike in Iraq in July 2016.[328] Also on 4 March, 100 ISIL militants assaulted Peshmerga lines in Syria; U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV helped the Peshmerga to repel the attack. As ISIL fighters sent a car bomb towards him, Keating led a team to counterattack with sniper and rocket fire. For his actions during the battle, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.[329]

On 24 March, U.S. special operations forces conducted an operation with the intent of capturing Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli in Syria. Al-Qaduli, then the 6th most wanted terrorist in the world and, according to analysts, the then-second-in-command of ISIL, acting as the group’s finance minister and was involved in external plots; he also temporarily commanded ISIL after a commander was injured. U.S. Special forces inserted by helicopter and layed in wait to intercept his vehicle; the operators attempted to capture him but the situation escalated and, at the last moment, they decided to fire on the vehicle instead, killing al-Qaduli and 3 other militants.[325][326][330][331]

On 25 April, it was reported that U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of an additional 250 special operations soldiers to Syria. In the following weeks, they are to join the 50 that are already in the country; their main aim is to advise, assist and expand the ongoing effort to bring more Syrian Arab fighters into units the U.S. supports in northern Syria to combat ISIL.[332][333]

May 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a meeting on Syria in May 2016

In late May 2016, more than a dozen U.S. special forces troops were seen in the village of Fatisah, less than 64 km (40 mi) north of Raqqa. They were fighting near the front lines with the YPG and wearing both YPG and U.S. insignia on their military uniforms; the operators were helping call in fire support for local SDF forces and coordinating airstrikes from behind the front lines in their advance toward Raqqa. However, the Pentagon and White House insisted that the troops were not fighting ISIL on the front lines and were still participating in a non-combat mission known as “train, advise and assist.”[334][335][336] Also in late May, a U.S. special forces operator was wounded north of Raqqa by indirect ISIL rocket or mortar fire.[337][338]

The Telegraph reported that British special forces had been operating on the frontline in Syria, particularly in May when they frequently crossed the border from Jordan to defend a New Syrian Army (NSA) rebel unit composed of former Syrian special forces as it defended the village of al-Tanf against ISIL attacks. They mostly helped the unit with logistics such as building defenses and making bunkers safe. The NSA captured the village that month and faced regular ISIL attacks; an ISIL SVBIED drove into the base and killed 11 members of the NSA and injuring 17 others. The wounded were CASEVAC‘d by U.S. helicopters to Jordan; the suicide attack damaged the structure of the al-Tanf base; British troops crossed over from Jordan to help them to rebuild their defences.[339][340]

June 2016 – Kurdish offensive to take Manbij

On 1 June, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that a “thousands”-strong SDF force consisting of Sunni Arab fighter and a small contingent of Kurdish fighters (mainly from the YPG) with assistance by U.S. special forces operators and fighter jets launched an operation to recapture the strategically important ISIL-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, 32 km (20 mi) from the border with Turkey; ISIL used the town to move supplies and foreign fighters into Syria from Turkey. In the 24 hours since the start of offensive, 18 U.S. airstrikes destroyed ISIL headquarters buildings, weapons caches, training areas, six bridges and an unknown number of ISIL fighters were killed; 15 civilians were also reported killed.[337][341]

USAFCENT CAOC at Al Udeid Air BaseQatar provides command and control of air power throughout Iraq and Syria.

On 3 June, F/A-18 Hornets launched from USS Harry S. Truman conducted air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria from the eastern Mediterranean. It was the first time the U.S. Navy had conducted strike missions in the Middle East from the Mediterranean Sea since flying operations against the Iraqi military in 2003.[342]

By 9 June, the U.S. Central Command said the Coalition had conducted more than 105 strikes in support of the SDF’s advance; French special forces were offering training and advice to SDF fighters in the area[343] and on 15 June, British special forces were also reported to be operating in the area. Much of the SDF advance was made possible by Coalition air support, with airstrikes being directed by special forces personnel on the ground.[344] On the same day, four U.S. special operations troops in northern Syria were “lightly” wounded by shrapnel when an Islamic State anti-tank missile fired at a nearby vehicle exploded, but they quickly returned to duty.[345][346][347]

On 16 June, supposedly as part of Russia‘s campaign to pressure the U.S. to agree to closer cooperation over Syria, Russian military aircraft bombed, with cluster bombs, a military outpost in al-Tanf in southeast Syria that was garrisoned by the New Syrian Army (NSA); U.S. and British special forces based in Jordan regularly worked with Syrian rebels at the al-Tanf outpost. The airstrike happened 24 hours after a detachment of 20 British special forces left the outpost. After the airstrike took place, U.S. commanders warned Russia that the garrison was part of the international coalition against ISIL and therefore shouldn’t be attacked, but 90 minutes later, nearby U.S. warplanes observed Russian jets dropping a second barrage of bombs on the outpost, killing four rebel soldiers. A U.S. spy plane overhead tried to contact the Russian pilots on emergency frequencies, but the Russians did not answer. U.S. officials demanded an explanation from Moscow, but they were told the Russian pilots struck the outpost because they “thought it was an ISIL base”, Russian officials then said that Jordan had approved the strikes in advance, but Jordan denied this. Moscow also claimed its air command headquarters in Syria was unable to call off the strikes because the U.S. had not given them the precise position of the outpost.[348][349]

On 29 June, as part of the 2016 Abu Kamal offensive — the offensive by the Pentagon-trained New Syrian Army and several hundred other rebels from different factions that aimed to capture Abu Kamal and sever ISIL’s transit link between Syria and Iraq — rebel forces entered the al-Hamdan air base — 5 km (3 mi) northwest of the border town Abu Kamal following intense clashes. This followed significant advances into ISIL-held territory near the Abu Kamal border crossing, the NSA said it had captured a number of ISIL positions on the outskirts of Abu Kamal, but a raid on the town at dawn was reported to have been repelled by militants. Fighting continued around the town, as coalition airstrikes were carried out on ISIL hideouts; the NSA also said it was coordinating the assault with Iraqi government forces, who were advancing on the border from the other side. The NSA issued a statement saying “the NSA maintains control of the desert, the approaches to Abu Kamal, and maintains freedom of manoeuvre”. later on that day, ISIL militants ambushed the rebels, inflicting heavy casualties and seizing weapons, according to a rebel source. ISIL retook the airbase from the NSA and continued to advance against the rebels, recapturing some of the outposts the NSA had captured south of the town; Coalition helicopters dropped in “foreign” airborne troops on the southern edge of Abu Kamal to help the rebels in their advance; coalition jets also carried out eight airstrikes on ISIL targets in the Abu Kamal area.[350][351][352][353] A contributing reasons for the failure of the U.S.-backed rebel operation was the withdrawing of air support at a critical moment; the aircraft assigned to the operation were ordered in the middle of the operation to leave the area and instead fly to the outskirts of Fallujah, where a large convoy of ISIL fighters, which U.S. commanders considered a “strategic target”, had been seen trying to escape across the desert after the city was recaptured by the Iraqi army. The convoy was eliminated by American and British planes along with gunships and aircraft from the Iraqi air force.[354]

August 2016 – Operation Euphrates Shield

On 7 August, as part of Operation Tidal Wave II, “multiple” coalition warplanes destroyed some 83 oil tankers used by the Islamic State near Abu Kamal.[355]

CNN reported that the Coalition carried out airstrikes in support of the Turkish intervention in Syria with Syrian opposition forces in August 2016, which seized the town of Jarabulus from ISIL and pushed south and west in an effort to clear the terror group from its border. U.S. special forces had initially intended to accompany the offensive but the U.S. was still working on approving the proposal when Turkish units pushed across the border.[356]

On 30 August, the New York Times reported that Abu Mohammad al-Adnani was killed while traveling in a vehicle by a U.S. drone strike in Al-BabCNN reported that al-Adnani was a key deputy to ISIL’s leader, he also acted as the principal architect in ISIL’s external operations and as the group’s spokesman; he also coordinated the movements of their fighters – directly encouraging them to carryout lone-wolf attacks on civilians and military targets. The strike marked the highest-profile killing of an ISIL member thus far.[357][358][359]

September–October 2016 – Coalition air raid on Deir ez-Zor

On 8 September, an airstrike allegedly carried out by the United States killed Abu Hajer al-Homsi (nom de guerre Abu Omar Saraqib), the top military commander of the renamed al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) in the countryside of the Aleppo Governorate. Abu Hajer al-Homsi was one of the founding members of the al-Nusra Front and had taken part in the Iraq War against the U.S. when he was part of the processor organization al-Qaeda in Iraq.[56] The Pentagon denied carrying out the strike and instead claimed Russia was responsible.[360]

On 16 September, CNN reported that up to 40 U.S. special forces operators were accompanying Turkish troops and vetted Syrian opposition forces as they cleared ISIL from northern Syria. The mission, called Operation Noble Lance, was authorised that week and was now underway. Officially, the U.S. personnel were to conduct the same type of “advising, assisting and training” missions that the U.S. had been providing to moderate opposition and local anti-ISIL forces.[356] The Washington Post reported that the contingent of Special Operations forces (SOF) assisting the Turkish and Syrian rebel forces around the cities of Jarabulus and al-Rai were sent at the request of the Turkish government.[361]

On 17 September, two U.S. A-10s, two Danish F-16s, and a UK Reaper drone[362][363] mistakenly bombed a Syrian Army-controlled base in the ISIL-besieged city of Deir ez-Zor. More than 62 Syrian soldiers were killed and at least 100 were wounded in the airstrike.[364][365] ISIL forces attacked immediately after the Coalition airstrike and took the strategically important elevation near Deir ez-Zor airbase: Tharda (Thurda) mountain. According to Russian and Syrian government sources, SAA forces, supported by Russian and Syrian airstrikes, counterattacked and recaptured Tharda mountain by the end of the day, suffering additional losses, including one Syrian jet fighter.[366][367] The USAF immediately issued an official explanation[368] – it was a navigation\intelligence mistake and bombing was stopped after Russian Air Force contact informed them about the SAA loses.[369] The Danish Air Force confirmed that their two F-16 fighters participated in the airstrike, insisting that operations stopped the split-second they received the message from the Russians and explaining it as a mistake and was regretting the losses.[370] Russian officials accused the U.S. in helping ISIL due to the air raid.[371] Russia also called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the airstrike and the U.S. temporarily ceased airstrikes in the area.[372] In response to the errant airstrike, the Syrian Armed Forces called it a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military”.[372]

On 3 October, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, a senior al-Nusra Front and previously Egyptian Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Jisr al-Shughur.[59]

November 2016

A rebel fighter from the FSA loads a U.S.-made M2 Browning heavy machine gun in northern Aleppo, November 2016

On 18 November, a U.S. airstrike killed an Afghan al-Nusra Front commander, Abu Afghan al-Masri, in the town of Sarmada.[373]

On 24 November, the Washington Post reported that Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 was killed by an IED near Ayn Issa – roughly 35 miles northwest of ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. It was the first time a U.S. service member was killed in Syria since a contingent of SOF was deployed there in October 2015.[374]

CNN reported that on 26 November, a U.S. drone strike in Raqqa killed Boubaker Hakim, a senior ISIL terrorist suspected of enabling the Sousse terrorist attack as he had connections to the Tunisian ISIL cell that carried out the attack and the Bardo National Museum attack. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, “His removal degrades ISIL’s ability to conduct further attacks in the West and denies ISIL a veteran extremist with extensive ties.”[375]

Stars and Stripes reported that in November 2016, airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing with a contingent of civil engineers, intelligence personnel, and security forces were temporarily deployed to expand and modify the airstrip that the airmen had established earlier in 2016 at an airbase where they deployed to near Kobani, so it can be used to assist in the offensive to retake Raqqa. The airbase gave the U.S. an additional location for its aircraft to support the Coalition and other anti-ISIL forces, but it had been used by U.S. forces limitedly due to the condition of the runway which restricted what types of aircraft could land there. General Carlton Everhart II, commander of U.S. Air Mobility Command, said that the base enabled aircraft to deliver critical supplies, equipment and help position forces; he added that airmen from the 621st group have supported anti-ISIL coalition forces on the ground in Syria.[376]

December 2016

On 4 December, it was reported that a U.S. airstrike in Raqqa killed three key ISIL leaders, two of whom (Salah Gourmat and Sammy Djedou) were involved in plotting the November 2015 Paris attacks.[377][378]

On 8 December, during the 4th Palmyra offensive, U.S.-led Coalition warplanes bombed an ISIL convoy near Palmyra in central Syria and destroyed 168 trucks carrying petroleum.[379]

On 10 December, it was reported that the U.S. was sending 200 more special operations personnel to Syria, joining the 300 U.S. special forces already in the country. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the troops would include special forces trainers, advisers and bomb disposal teams and that they will “continue organising, training, equipping, and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces” to take the fight to ISIL. In particular, the troops will assist SDF forces in the ongoing Raqqa offensive; France also continues to have special operations units in the country.[380][381][382]

The New York Times reported that on 15 December, Coalition warplanes destroyed 14 Syrian Army T-72 battle tanks, three artillery systems and a number of buildings and vehicles that ISIL militants were using at a military base in central Syria that they seized the previous weekend from Syrian troops and their Russian advisers.[383]

On 31 December, a Coalition airstrike in Raqqa killed Mahmud al-Isawi, al-Isawi was an ISIL member who supported the organization’s media and intelligence structure in Fallujah before relocating to Raqqa. His role in the group was controlling the flow of instructions and finances between ISIL-held areas and ISIL leaders and provided support to propaganda and intelligence outlets; he was also known to have facilitated trans-regional travel with other ISIL external operations coordinators and had a close working and personal relationship with Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi, the emir of ISIL’s Middle East attack network, according to the U.S. defense department.[384]

2017

Joseph DunfordHulusi Akar and Valery Gerasimov discussing their nations’ operations in northern Syria, March 2017

January 2017

On 1 January 2017, a United States drone strike killed Abu Omar al-Turkistani, a Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and Turkistan Islamic Party military commander, and three other JFS members near the town of Sarmada in the northern Idlib Governorate.[385]

On 2 January, more than 25 JFS members were killed in an air raid by suspected U.S. warplanes.[386]

On 6 January, as part of the Raqqa offensive, SDF forces, supported by American special forces and international coalition aircraft, seized Qalaat Jaabar fortress after fierce fighting with ISIL jihadist fighters.[387]

On 8 January, coalition forces conducted a landing operation onto the road between the villages of Jazra and Kabr in the western Deir ez-Zor Governorate from four helicopters. The landing forces set up checkpoints on the road and raided a water plant in Kabr, where they killed and captured a number of ISIL fighters. After an hour and 15 minutes, the operation was complete and the forces withdrew.[388]

On 11 January, an air-to-surface missile launched from suspected U.S. aircraft hit a Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) convoy consisting of five vehicles and killed 14 JFS members.[389]

On 17 January, separate U.S. airstrikes in the Idlib Governorate killed Mohammad Habib Boussaboun al-Tunisi and Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi, two Tunisian al-Qaeda external operations leaders.[390] Also that day, it was reported that U.S. warplanes and combat advisers were supporting Turkish military units battling ISIL fighters in northern Syria, particularly at the Battle of al-Bab.[391]

On 19 January, U.S. airstrikes by B-52 strategic bombers struck the former Syrian Army Sheikh Suleiman military base near Darat Izza, in western Aleppo, which was used by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement. The airstrike killed at least 110 JFS fighters and some al-Zenki fighters,[392] including Abu Hasan al-Taftanaz, an al-Qaeda senior leader. Since 1 January 2017, more than 150 al-Qaeda members were killed by U.S. airstrikes in 2017.[120] The Sheikh Suleiman base had been operated as a training camp by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and al-Zenki since 2013.[392]

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), between 22 September 2014 and 23 January 2017, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes killed 7,043 people across Syria, of which: 5,768 dead were ISIL fighters, 304 al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels, 90 Syrian government soldiers and 881 civilians.[393]

February 2017

On 1 February, it was reported that the U.S.-led Coalition had conducted an airstrike on the Carlton Hotel in the city of Idlib,[394] which local and NGO sources said was a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) facility[394][395] and which pro-government media said was used by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)’s former al-Nusra component for troop housing, and hosting meetings of prominent commanders.[396] The Coalition denied responsibility, although an investigation of open source materials confirmed a strike had occurred and that a SARC facility was damaged.[397]

On 2 February, Sky News reported that Turkish aircraft killed 51 Islamic State fighters in the space of 24 hours in the areas of al-Bab, TadefQabasin, and Bizaah. The airstrikes targeted buildings and vehicles resulting in 85 ISIL positions destroyed. According to Turkish military command, since the beginning of Operation Euphrates Shield, at least 1,775 ISIL militants had been “neutralised,” with more than 1,500 of those killed.[398]

On 3 February, U.S. airstrikes hit Jund al-Aqsa and Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) positions in Sarmin, near Idlib, and killed more than 12 militants.[27] On the same day, the Royal Jordanian Air Force launched several airstrikes on ISIL outposts in southern Syria.[399]

On 4 February, a U.S. airstrike killed Abu Hani al-Masri, who was part of Ahrar al-Sham at the time of his death, but described by the Pentagon as a former al-Qaeda commander. It was reported that there was speculation that he was about to defect to Tahrir al-Sham before his death.[122][400]

On 26 February, in Al-Mastoumeh, Idlib, a U.S. drone strike killed Abu Khayr al-Masri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda.[54][401][402] He had been released and allowed into Syria as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and al-Qaeda in 2015.[401][403][404][405] The U.S. airstrike also killed another Tahrir al-Sham militant, who was traveling in the same car.[406][407] It was later revealed in May 2019 that the missile used in the airstrike was a Hellfire R9X, which has a kinetic warhead with pop-out blades, intended to reduce collateral damage.[408]

March 2017 – Regular U.S. forces arrive and the Battle of Tabqa

United States special operations forces near Manbij, acting as advisors to the Syrian Democratic Forces, March 2017

On 8 March, various news outlets reported that regular U.S. troops, part of an amphibious task force, left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria to establish an outpost from which they can provide artillery support for U.S.-backed local forces who were preparing to assault Raqqa in a battle to liberate the city from ISIL control. The deployment marked a new escalation in the U.S.’s role in Syria and put more conventional U.S. troops on the ground, a role that, thus far, had primarily been filled by Special Operations units. The ground force was part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit; 400 U.S. Marines from the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines were tasked to crew an artillery battery of M777 howitzers whilst additional infantrymen from the unit will provide security. Resupplies were to be handled by a detachment of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element. A defense official with direct knowledge of the operation said the Marines were flown from Djibouti to Kuwait and then into Syria. By then, there were 900 U.S. soldiers and Marines deployed to Syria in total (500 special forces troops were already on the ground to train and support the SDF); under the existing limits put in place by the Obama administration, the formal troop cap for Syria is 503 personnel, but commanders have the authority to temporarily exceed that limit to meet military requirements. There were approximately 100 U.S. Army Rangers in Stryker vehicles and armored Humvees deployed in and around Manbij in northern Syria, U.S. officials said. Officially, they are there to discourage Syrian, Russian, or Turkish troops from making any moves that could shift the focus away from an assault on ISIL militants, specifically preventing them from inadvertently coming under fire. The U.S. believed the pressure on ISIL in Raqqa was working – a U.S. official said that intelligence indicates some ISIL leadership and operatives were continuing to try to leave the city. He added that there was also U.S. intelligence that indicated the city was laced with trenches, tunnels, roadside bombs and buildings wired to explode, which, if correct, indicated that the U.S. has likely been able to gather intelligence from both overhead surveillance aircraft and people on the ground. However, the official also noted that “Raqqa will probably not be the final battle against ISIS” and added that the group still has some personnel dispersed in areas south and east of the city. According to the official, the U.S. estimated that ISIL could have had roughly as many as 4,000 fighters in Raqqa. An official told The Guardian that in addition, the U.S. is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Kuwait on stand-by to be ready to fight ISIL in Syria if needed and the number would be fewer than 1,000. The Independent reported that Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, said the artillery unit and the Army Rangers would not have a front line role.[409][410][411][412][413][414]

U.S. Marines manning artillery in northern Syria, March 2017

On 16 March, a U.S. airstrike hit a mosque in western Aleppo and killed more than 42 people, mostly civilians. The location was assessed by the U.S. military as a meeting place for al-Qaeda and claimed that the airstrike hit a target across the mosque and was not targeted at the mosque itself.[415]

Stars and Stripes reported that on 28 March, an airman assigned to the 21st Space Wing died in a non-combat incident (possibly of natural causes) in northern Syria.[416]

On 22 March, hundreds of SDF fighters, with an undisclosed number of U.S. Special Operations troops operating as their advisers, launched a large-scale heliborne assault on ISIL around the area of the Tabqa Dam.[417][418][419] They were inserted on the southern bank of the Euphrates river behind ISIL’s defenses to take them by surprise; Colonel Joe Scrocca, an OIR spokesman, said that as a result of the air insertion behind ISIL lines, the SOF-SDF force did not come under fire. The following day, there was heavy fighting in the area; Col. Scrocca added that the ground forces were supported by helicopter gunships, U.S. Marine 155mm artillery and U.S. airstrikes.[417]

Airwars reported that March 2017 saw the greatest number of munitions dropped during the war thus far – 3,878 munitions on ISIL targets in both Syria and Iraq, based on figures published by United States Air Forces Central Command – as well as the highest number of civilian deaths (between 477 and 1,216 non-combatants, 57% of which were in Syria) to date, likely caused by Coalition strikes, exceeding casualties caused by Russian strikes for the third consecutive month.[420][421] Significant incidents that were attributed to Coalition strikes occurred in Tabqa and Kasrat al-Faraj during the Battle of Tabqa. The deadliest incident occurred in al-Mansoura, where local witnesses said at least 33 civilians were killed in a former school used to house displaced persons, although this was denied by the Coalition.[420]

April 2017 – Shayrat missile strike

File:US armoured vehicles pass through Qamishli.ogv

U.S. Army Stryker vehicles drive through Qamishli onwards to the Syria-Turkey border after border clashes between the YPG and Turkey

U.S. military transport helicopters fly over northeastern Syria

On 6 April, U.S. special forces conducted a landing operation against ISIL west of Deir ez-Zor. Two Coalition helicopters airdropped soldiers in the area who then interdicted a car[422] on route from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor. During the operation, U.S. forces killed four ISIL commanders and extracted a Jordanian spy who had infiltrated ISIL and served as one of its leaders.[423] CNN reported that the operation took place near Mayadin and that one of the ISIL commanders killed by U.S. forces was Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, a top facilitator and close associate of ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; he was also connected to the 2017 New Year’s nightclub bombing in Turkey.[424]

On 7 April, in response to chemical weapon attacks (most notably the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack) against Syrian civilians allegedly by the Syrian government, the U.S. launched missile strikes on the airfield from which the chemical weapon attacks were allegedly launched.[425] This incident marked the first deliberate direct attack by the U.S. on the Assad government.[426] The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the attack as being based on false intelligence and against international law, suspended the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents that had been signed with the U.S., and called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.[427]

On 8 April, ISIL militants attacked a U.S. garrison at al-Tanf in Southern Syria: the garrison’s main gate was blown up with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), followed by a ground assault of about 20-30 ISIL militants, some of whom were wearing suicide vests. The U.S. Central Command said that the ″U.S. special operators″ at the base along with other coalition members and ″U.S.-backed Syrian fighters″, supported by multiple airstrikes, repelled the attack, with no American casualties.[428][429][430] The Telegraph reported that during the battle, ISIL militants also ambushed a convoy of reinforcements from an allied rebel group who were trying to relieve the base.[431]

Protest against U.S. military actions in Syria, Minneapolis, April 2017

CNN reported that on 11 April, a misdirected U.S. airstrike near Tabqa, during the ongoing Raqqa offensive, killed 18 SDF soldiers.[432]

May 2017

The BBC reported that on 9 May, a Royal Air Force drone strike stopped an ISIL-staged public killing. The hellfire missile killed an ISIL sniper positioned on a rooftop set to shoot civilians attempting to walk away. No civilians were harmed and other ISIL fighters fled on motorbikes.[433]

The Independent reported on 12 May that SDF forces had seized control of the Tabqa Dam after a deal struck by the SDF and around 70 ISIL militants; the deal included the dismantling of IEDs and booby traps, the surrender of heavy weaponry and withdrawal of remaining ISIL fighters from Tabqa city.[434]

On 18 May, the U.S. conducted airstrikes on a convoy of a pro-government militia during the 2017 Baghdad–Damascus highway offensive.[435] According to a U.S. defense official, before the strikes were conducted, government troops were warned they were getting too close to Coalition forces garrisoned at al-Tanf but did not respond.[436] According to the U.S., four or five vehicles were destroyed, including a tank[437] and two bulldozers.[438] In contrast, the Syrian Army reported that two tanks were destroyed and a Shilka SPAAG was damaged.[439] Eight soldiers were killed.[437][440]

June 2017 – Battle of Raqqa begins

United States Marine Corps howitzers provide fire support to the SDF during the Battle of Raqqa

On 6 June, SDF ground troops backed by Coalition airstrikes launched the battle for RaqqaUSCENTCOM reported that 4,400 munitions were fired in support of operations in Raqqa, a dramatic increase from previous months.[441]

Also on 6 June, U.S. aircraft conducted airstrikes on over 60 troops, a tank, artillery, antiaircraft weapons, and armed technical vehicles from pro-government forces that had entered what the Coalition called the al-Tanf “deconfliction zone”.[442][443] On 8 June, a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft shot down a drone and other aircraft destroyed two armed pick-up trucks belonging to pro-government forces that moved near U.S. backed fighters at al-Tanf.[444][445]

On 18 June, a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 after it allegedly bombed an SDF position in Ja’Din, south of Tabqa. A statement by the Syrian Army claimed that the plane was on a mission to bomb ISIL militants. The same day, pro-government forces captured the village of Ja’Din following an SDF withdrawal.[446][447][448][449] On 20 June, a U.S. F-15E shot down a pro-government Shahed 129 drone near al-Tanf after it “displayed hostile intent” and allegedly advanced towards Coalition forces.[450]

Across Iraq and Syria, Airwars tracked 223 reported Coalition airstrikes with civilian casualties during June 2017, likely killing a minimum of between 529 and 744 civilians (including at least 415 in Syria, mainly in Raqqa governorate, making it the second mostly deadly month for civilians since the strikes began in 2014.[441] Significant reported incidents included 3 June in Raqqa (20 civilians), 5 June (hitting civilians fleeing conflict), and 8 June in Raqqa (including reported white phosphorus use and a mosque hit).[441]

August 2017

On 21 August, U.S. forces in northern Syria were fired on by Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army units near Manbij, and returned fire in a short firefight.[451]

On 29 August, following the Qalamoun offensive, ISIL militants were surrounded by LebaneseHezbollah and Syrian forces on both sides of the Lebanon–Syria border. They negotiated a safe-passage deal so that 670 ISIL fighters and their relatives would be taken from the border in vehicles to Abu Kamal. The U.S. military disapproved of the deal; Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the deal undermined efforts to fight the ISIL in Syria. U.S. aircraft carried out airstrikes, blocking the road the ISIL convoy was travelling on, before it reached ISIL-occupied territory in Deir ez-Zor Governorate. Dillon added that other U.S. airstrikes hit militants apparently attempting to join the stranded militants in the convoy.[451] The Independent later reported that the convoy was trapped in between the towns of Humayma and al-Sukhnah.[452]

September 2017

U.S. Green Berets during counter-ISIL operations in southern Syria, November 2017

On 3 September, the Independent reported that 400 ISIL militants and their families traveling in the convoy that was trapped by U.S. airstrikes in Syria in late August had abandoned their vehicles and began travelling on foot to the Iraqi border.[452]

December 2017

CNN reported that on 12 December, Maghawir Al-Thawra fighters accompanied by U.S. advisers intercepted a convoy of about ten vehicles that was passing through the 55 km “de-confliction” zone surrounding the coalition base at al-Tanf; a firefight ensued, resulting in 21 ISIL fighters killed and a further 17 captured.[453]

CNN reported that on 13 December, two U.S. F-22A fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 jets that crossed the “de-confliction line” multiple times. An Air Forces Central Command spokesman said that “The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our de-conflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area.” One U.S. defense official said that a Russian Su-35 fighter was also involved in the incident.[454]

On 22 December, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said that Australia will end their air strikes against the Islamic State and recall its six Super Hornet aircraft. Payne added that other Australian operations in the region would continue, with 80 personnel who are part of the Special Operations Task Group in Iraq, including Australian special forces, continuing their deployment.[455]

2018

January 2018

Military Times reported on 12 January that Coalition aircraft carried out more than 90 airstrikes between January 4 and January 11 near the Iraq-Syria border.[456]

Military Times also reported that on 20 January, U.S. airstrikes targeting an ISIL headquarters and command and control center in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) near Al-Shaafah killed nearly 150 ISIL militants. According to a press release, SDF fighters provided target observation and intelligence on the target.[457]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the United States’ support for Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria.[458]

February–March 2018 – The Khasham engagement

Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters in February 2018

According to U.S. military officials, on 7 February, in deliberate air and artillery strikes, the U.S.-led coalition killed more than 100 pro-government fighters in the Euphrates River valley in Deir ez-Zor province after they launched an “unprovoked attack” against the Syrian Democratic Forces.[459] Syrian state news corroborated the events, but insisted that the Kurdish forces were mixed in with ISIL forces; it also stated that ten Russian mercenaries were among those killed.[460]

CNN reported that on 30 March, Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar of Delta Force and Sergeant Matt Tonroe of the British Special Air Service were killed by an IED blast during a mission in Manbij, the objective of which was — according to Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway — to “kill or capture a known ISIS member.”[461]

April–June 2018

On 14 April, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom had decided to carry out a series of military strikes against the Syrian government.[462][463] The strikes came in the wake of the Douma chemical attack.[464][465]

On 1 May, the SDF, in coordination with the Iraqi Armed Forces, announced the resumption of their Deir ez-Zor offensive to capture the final ISIL enclaves near the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates.[466] By 3 May, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group had joined in support of the SDF’s anti-ISIL operations.[467]

U.S. and Turkish forces conduct joint patrols on the outskirts of Manbij, Syria, 8 November 2018

One 21 June, the U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes against Syrian army positions in east of Homs, killing at least 1 Syrian soldier.[468] On 22 June, the Coalition claimed that they responded to an attack by an “unidentified hostile force” near al-Tanf.[469]

November 2018

On 1 November, the Coalition began a series of joint patrols with the Turkish Armed Forces along the frontlines of the Kurdish-controlled Manbij region and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army‘s territory. The move was seen as a part of a “roadmap” to ease tensions between the two NATO allies and reduce violence between Kurdish and Turkish-backed elements.[470]

On 21 November, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced the U.S. would set up new observation posts along the Turkish border in northern Syria in order to reduce skirmishes between Turkish forces and armed Kurdish militants in the region such as the border clashes in late October-early November. Mattis affirmed that it was a co-operational endeavor with Turkey and it will not require additional U.S. troops to be deployed to Syria.[471][472]

December 2018 – Announcement of U.S. withdrawal

Military situation in December 2018:

 Controlled by the Syrian government
 Controlled by Syrian Kurds
 Controlled by the Islamic State (ISIL)
File:DVIDS - Video - Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve Strike Video.webm

CJTF-OIR airstike on an ISIL fuel truck in al-Susah, 29 November 2018

President Donald Trump, declaring “we have won against ISIS,” unilaterally announced on 19 December 2018 that the remaining 2,000-2,500 U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn. Trump made the announcement on Twitter, overruling the recommendations of his military commanders and civilian advisors, with apparently no prior consultation with Congress. Although no timetable was provided, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders indicated that the withdrawal had already been ordered. Various sources indicated that Trump had directed that the withdrawal be completed within 30 days.[473][143][144][474] However, Reuters was told by a U.S. official that the withdrawal was expected to take 60 to 100 days.[145][475] Following Trump’s surprise announcement, the Pentagon and State Department tried to change his mind, with several of his congressional and political allies expressing serious concerns about the sudden move, specifically that it would hand control of the region to Russia and Iran and abandon America’s Kurdish allies.[476][477]

CNN reported on 24 December that during the weeks before Trump’s withdrawal announcement, national security advisor John Bolton told senior officials to meet directly with anti-ISIL coalition partners to assure them that America would remain in Syria until Iran had left. One senior administration official commented that Trump’s decision was “a complete reversal,” done “without deliberation,” reportedly leaving allies and partners “bewildered.” According to one CNN analysis, the announcement reportedly came as the Coalition had reason to believe ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his top commanders were possibly cornered in a small pocket of northern Syria, “in a Tora Bora situation” akin to the region where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden escaped from American forces in 2001.[478][479]

On 27 December, administration officials stated that USCENTCOM‘s troop withdrawal plan entailed the withdrawal taking place over several months instead of weeks, falling in line with Trump’s post-announcement comments that the pullout of U.S. troops would be “deliberate and orderly.” By the end of the month, it remained unclear whether anti-ISIL air operations would continue post-withdrawal.[480] By 31 December, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and a group of generals held a luncheon with the president over the withdrawal, Graham tweeted that Trump would seek a more gradual withdrawal over a course of several months; a slow down of the withdrawal was not officially confirmed by the administration at the time.[481]

In December 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that US troops involved in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in northeast Syria would be withdrawn imminently. Trump’s surprise decision overturned Washington’s policy in the Middle East. It fueled the ambitions and anxieties of local and regional actors vying over the future shape of Syria. Many experts proposed that President Trump could mitigate the damage of his withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Syria by using Special Activities Center.[482] Many believe the president chose “to replace U.S. ground forces in Syria with personnel from the CIA’s Special Activities Center” and that the process has been underway for months. Already experienced in operations in Syria, the CIA has numerous paramilitary officers who have the skills to operate independently in harms way. And while the CIA lacks the numbers to replace all 2,000 U.S. military personnel currently in Syria and work along side the Syrian Democratic Forces (these CIA personnel are spread cross the world), but their model is based on fewer enablers and support.[483]

2019

January 2019

File:DVIDS - Video - Coalition Forces Conduct Airstrike on Daesh Facility Syria.webm

CJTF-OIR airstrike on an ISIL building in al-Shaafah, 4 January 2019

On 6 January 2019, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, while on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said that the pullout of U.S. troops from Syria depended on certain conditions, including the assurance that the remnants of ISIL forces are defeated and Kurds in northern Syria were safe from Turkish forces.[484] However, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the call to protect Kurdish troops, whom he regarded as terrorist groups.[485] On 10 January, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria while continuing the battle against ISIL. He also stated that there would be no U.S. reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its “proxies” had left.[486][487] On 11 January, Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan confirmed the U.S. troop withdrawal process from Syria had begun. “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said. The SOHR observed that the Coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in al-Hasakah.[488] U.S. defense officials said it had begun the removal of equipment, but not yet troops, and that the total amount of U.S. soldiers in Syria may temporarily increase in order to provide security for the final pullout. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomed what he believed was a slower, more effective withdrawal by the U.S. after pressure from its allies.[489]

On 15 January the Coalition released fresh numbers regarding their ongoing operations in both Syria and Iraq. Between 30 December 2018 and 6 January 2019, the Coalition conducted 575 air and artillery strikes against ISIL in Syria; the strikes destroyed 105 ISIL mortar and rocket artillery units, 50 IED manufacturing sites, 26 vehicles, 19 weapons caches, and two UAV systems. Between January 7–13, airstrikes in the MERV near the Iraqi border also killed around 200 militants including four senior commanders.[490]

On 29 January, with ISIL cornered in its final redoubt due to the Kurdish-led conquest against it in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan proclaimed at his first news conference as SecDef that the Coalition will liberate all of the Islamic State’s remaining self-proclaimed caliphate in “two weeks”. “I’d say 99.5 percent plus of…the ISIS-controlled territory has been returned to the Syrians. Within a couple of weeks it will be 100 percent,” Shanahan said. He added that the U.S. is still in the early stages of what he called a “deliberate, coordinated, disciplined withdrawal,” from Syria and that “very important dialogues going on in major capitals” about support to Syria once the U.S. leaves were ongoing.[491]

February 2019 – Kurds corner ISIL in Baghuz

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for withdrawing American ground troops from both Syria and Afghanistan in a series of tweets on 1 February amid proliferating concerns among America’s allies, politicians, analysts, and local activists over a feared power vacuum in Syria post-withdrawal. “I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the ‘Endless Wars’ of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end. We spend $50 Billion a year in Afghanistan and have hit them so hard that we are now talking peace after 18 long years,” Trump tweeted. The day prior, the U.S. Senate had issued a rebuke of the president cautioning against the “precipitous withdrawal” of military forces; furthermore the United States Intelligence Community contradicted the president on its perception of the global threat ISIL continued to pose during a Senate committee hearing.[492] A draft Pentagon report emerged on 1 February warning that ISIL could regain territory in Syria within a year following a U.S. disengagement from Syria.[493] On 5 February, CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel noted during a Senate Armed Services Committee testimony that he had not been consulted prior to Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces, reinforcing the notion that the U.S. withdrawal was ordered completely unilaterally from the White House without prior consultation with relevant military advisors and Defense Department personnel.[494]

On 6 February, President Trump, while at a summit of 79 foreign ministers and officials that assisted in the global coalition against ISIL, predicted a formal announcement of a final victory against ISIL as early as the following week. “Remnants – that’s all they have, remnants – but remnants can be very dangerous,” Trump said in regards to ISIL. “Rest assured, we’ll do what it takes to defeat every ounce and every last person within the ISIS madness”.[495] The Wall Street Journal, citing State Department officials, reported on 8 February that the U.S. pullout was expected to be complete by April, with the majority of ground troops expected to be already withdrawn by mid-March. A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that the withdrawal included pulling troops from al-Tanf.[496]

An Operation Inherent Resolve summary on Coalition activity between 27 January and 9 February detailed air and artillery strikes conducted in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition conducted 176 strikes in Syria. Targets included: 146 ISIL tactical units, 131 supply routes, 53 fighting positions, 31 staging areas, 14 VBIEDs, 13 pieces of engineering equipment, 11 explosive belts, nine tankers for petroleum oil and lubricants, eight tactical vehicles, five command and control nodes, four buildings, three aircraft operations areas, three tunnels, two petroleum oil and lubricant storage facilities, two manufacturing facilities for IEDs, two artillery pieces, two weapons caches, and one armored vehicle.[497]

After the SDF’s assault on Baghuz Fawqani began on 9 February, CENTCOM commander Joseph Votel told CNN on 11 February that ISIL losing physical territory does not mean the end of the organization. “Putting military pressure on [ISIL] is always better, it’s always easier when you are there on the ground, but in this case our President has made a decision and we are going to execute that and so it’s my responsibility as the CENTCOM commander working with my chain of command to look at how we do that,” adding that the completion of the U.S. pullout was “weeks away…but then again it will be driven by the situation on the ground”.[498]

Trump tweeted late on 16 February urging European countries to repatriate the over 800 captured suspected ISIL members from Syria, warning the U.S. may be forced to release them otherwise. Kurdish prisons could not hold the ISIL members and all their families, totaling around 2,000 people, indefinitely. The Kurds called the situation a “time bomb”.[499][500] The U.S.-Kurdish demand to take responsibility got mixed responses from Europe. German foreign minister Heiko Maas said repatriation would be possible only if returning fighters could be immediately taken into custody, which would be “extremely difficult to achieve” without proper judicial information. France, whose citizens made up the majority of European ISIL recruits, said it would not act immediately on Trump’s call but would take militants back “case by case,” and not categorically. Britain has said its fighters can return only if they seek consular help in Turkey, while acknowledging repatriation was a dilemma. Belgium’s justice minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution,” urging “calm reflection and a look at what would pose the least security risks.” The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said the issue was “one of the greatest challenges ahead of us for the upcoming months.”[501]

After announcing the U.S. would keep a “peacekeeping” force of around 200-400 troops in Syria — instead of the initially planned total withdrawal — on 22 February, senior Trump administration and defense officials stated the decision was an endorsement of a plan pressed by U.S. military leaders for some time, calling for an international force, preferably NATO or regional Arab allies, of 800 to 1,500 troops that would monitor a safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey.[502]

March–April 2019

On 10 March, John Bolton stated that he was “optimistic” France and the UK would commit personnel to the planned observer force. He also reiterated the U.S. commitment to keep troops in Iraq.[503] On 20 March, in response to new developments in the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, President Trump predicted that the remaining ISIL holdout would be cleared “by tonight” during a speech at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Lima, Ohio. “The caliphate is gone as of tonight,” he said, as he used maps depicting ISIL’s territorial collapse since November 2016; later, the November 2016 map was shown to actually be a map from 2014 when ISIL was at its peak territorial size, before the Coalition’s anti-ISIL operations.[504][505]

On 23 March, the U.S.-backed SDF announced victory in the battle of Baghuz, signifying the territorial collapse of ISIL in Syria, a critical milestone for the U.S.-led Syrian intervention.[37] U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy stated that the physical caliphate was defeated but ISIL was not and that there were over 10,000 completely unrepentant fighters left in Syria and Iraq.[506] He expected the U.S. to be in Syria for the long haul with a very capable partner in the Syrian Democratic Forces.[507][508][509] He said that the U.S. partnership with the SDF was a model to follow, like the partnership with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and with the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq as the northern front against Saddam Hussein.[510]

U.S.-Turkish negotiations over joint troop patrols in a designated safe zone along the northern Turkish-Syrian border continued into late April as the UK and France rejected a plan to provide troops to a buffer zone between Rojava and Turkey, claiming their missions in Syria are only to fight ISIL. With their troop numbers set to be cut to 1,000 in upcoming months, the U.S. reportedly prefers a narrower strip of land to patrol than the approximately 20 miles that Turkey has proposed. The Turks would send their own troops into the buffer zone while only demanding U.S. logistical help and air cover. The Turkish proposal reportedly saw push back as the Americans prefer to avoid a situation that effectively pushes the Turkish border 20 miles into Syria, further increasing the chances of clashes with the Kurds instead of reducing it.[511]

May 2019

The Syria Study Group, a U.S. Congressionally-appointed panel of experts tasked with assessing the situation in Syria, similar to the Iraq Study Group appointed in 2006, released an interim report on 1 May endorsing the view that instead of a draw down, the U.S. should reassert its presence in Syria, citing the prospect of a potential ISIL resurgence, Russian “prestige” after successfully propping up the Assad government, perceived Iranian entrenchment in the country, and al-Qaeda retaining control in the form of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham‘s dominance in northwestern Syria, a region U.S. warplanes rarely venture to due to the nearby presence of Russian air defenses deployed on behalf of the Syrian government. The report argued that the U.S. should step up attempts to isolate Assad and counter Iranian influence in the region; it also argued that the U.S. should take in more Syrian refugees, the admittance of which the Trump administration has reduced from thousands to just a few dozen in recent years. The report further underlined the differing views between the president and comparatively more hawkish Congress on what direction to take the U.S.’s commitments in the country.[512]

June–July 2019

A U.S. AH-64 Apache on an escort mission in northeastern Syria, 22 June 2019

On 30 June 2019, in a rare operation against non-ISIL elements, the U.S. carried out a strike against an al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) leadership meeting at a training facility west of Aleppo,[25] which killed eight jihadists from the Guardians of Religion Organization, including six commanders: two Tunisians, two Algerians, an Egyptian and a Syrian.[24] It was the first known coalition strike in western Syria since February 2017 due to the U.S. and Russia arranging an unofficial deconfliction boundary that largely bars any substantial U.S. forces from venturing into the region. The U.S. did not specify what assets were used in the strike.[513]

In July, U.S. special anti-ISIL envoy James Jeffrey continued to urge Britain, France and Germany to assist the U.S.’s ground mission in Syria. “We want ground troops from Germany to partly replace our soldiers” in the area as part of the anti-Islamic State coalition, Jeffrey told German media.[148]

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Michael Mulroy stated that the SDF has over 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters in custody from over 50 countries—in which they spend quite a bit of time, effort and resources taking care of—and that the U.S. has pushed these countries to take back their citizens. The number of Americans who joined ISIL on the battlefield is small compared to countries like France and the UK, where several hundred foreign fighters traveled from.[514]

August 2019

On 7 August 2019, the U.S. and Turkey reached a framework deal to jointly implement a demilitarized buffer zone in the areas between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—excluding the Manbij area—in northern Syria. Terms of the deal include joint U.S.-Turkish ground patrols, the relocation of some Syrian refugees into the area, and the withdrawal of heavily armed YPG and YPJ forces and fortifications from the Syria–Turkey border, leaving the areas under SDF military council rule instead.[515] On 24 August, the SDF began dismantling border fortifications under the supervision of U.S. forces. On 27 August, YPG units began withdrawing from Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.[516]

On 31 August, in a second attack against non-ISIL militants in western Syria since June 30, the U.S. carried out a series of airstrikes on a Rouse the Believers Operations Room meeting between Kafriya and Maarrat Misrin, killing over 40 Guardians of Religion militants, including several leaders.[23][517]

October 2019

On 7 October 2019, a senior U.S. official said US troops will pull back from Syria and potentially depart the country entirely.[518] American troops left observation posts in the border villages of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham indicated Turkey will “soon be moving forward” with military operations in Northern Syria. She further stated that “the United States armed forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”[519]

Airstrikes on the Khorasan Group

One of the groups targeted by U.S. airstrikes was the Khorasan Group, an extremist group of suspected al-Qaeda “core” members who were alleged to have been plotting an attack against the U.S. and other Western nations.[215] The strikes targeted Khorasan training camps, explosives and munitions production facilities, communications facilities, as well as command and control facilities. The group has been claimed to possess advanced bomb making skills and their plot is claimed to involve a bomb made of a nonmetallic device such as a toothpaste container or clothes dipped in explosive material.[520] The group is reportedly led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a leader of al-Qaeda and a close confidant of Osama bin Laden.[520] Intelligence officials expressed concern that the group may include militants who were taught by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the chief bomb maker for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who is known for his sophisticated bomb making techniques that nearly downed two Western airliners.[520]

Later statements by government officials indicated that the threat of a plot may have been less severe than initially reported.[521][522] One official indicated that “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works”,[521] while another told The Guardian that “there was no indication of an imminent domestic threat from the group” at the time the United States began bombing.[522]

On 6 November, a second round of airstrikes was launched against Khorasan and al-Nusra in northwestern Syria, along with Ahrar ash-Sham at its headquarters in Idlib, whose leadership had been infiltrated by al-Qaeda.[31] On 13 November 2014, the US launched a third set of airstrikes against Khorasan.[523] On 19 November, the US carried out another airstrike on Khorasan near Hazm, which struck and destroyed a storage facility associated with the group.[274] On 1 December, the US carried out another airstrike on Khorasan near Aleppo.[277]

On 24 March 2015, it was revealed that the US airstrikes on Khorasan had killed 17 militants from the group.[524]

On 8 July 2015, a US airstrike near the town of Sarmada in Idlib, Syria, killed Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of Khorasan.[62]

Ground operations

During the beginning of the coalition interventions, leaders, including U.S. President Obama, said coalition ground forces would not be used in the fight against ISIL either in Iraq or Syria unless they were local coalition forces.[525] While in Iraq thousands of coalition troops from the United States and other nations had been deployed in an advisory capacity, in Syria no ground troops from the coalition intervening in Syria were deployed in the beginning of the intervention.[526][527]

2015-16

Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers in Manbij, 2016

In November 2015, the Obama administration began the deployment of U.S. special forces to Syria, on the mission of assisting rebel forces in their fight against ISIL, President Obama then ordered several dozen Special Operations troops into Rojava in northern Syria to assist local fighters battling the Islamic State, authorizing the first open-ended mission by American ground forces into the country.[528]

ISIL’s deputy leader in Syria, Abu Ali al-Anbari, was killed by JSOC special forces operatives in March 2016, in eastern Syria near the Syrian–Iraqi border, while he and three other ISIL members were traveling in a vehicle coming from Raqqa. The US Special Forces ordered him to exit the vehicle, intending to arrest him. When he refused and pulled out an assault rifle instead, US forces fired at the vehicle, killing him and the other passengers on board. US commandos also seized electronics and other documents during the operation for intelligence purposes.[529]

In March 2016, King Abdullah of Jordan said that British forces had helped in the building up of a mechanized battalion in southern Syria, consisting of tribal fighters to combat the Syrian Army.[530]

On 17 March 2016, the day after the declaration of the Federation of Northern Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the Syrian Democratic Forces as having “proven to be excellent partners of ours on the ground in fighting ISIL. We are grateful for that, and we intend to continue to do that, recognizing the complexities of their regional role.”[531]

Significant U.S. Armed Forces presence at Al-Tanf, Syria began in early 2016

During the SDF’s May 2016 offensive against ISIL in Northern Raqqa, U.S. Special Forces were widely reported and photographed to be present, with some of them wearing badges of the Kurdish YPG and YPJ on their uniforms.[532] On 21 May, Joseph Votel, commanding general of U.S. Central Command, completed a secret hours-long trip to northern Syria to visit several locations where there were U.S. special operations forces and meet with local forces the U.S. was helping train to fight ISIL. The visit came as the first of 250 additional U.S. special operations forces were beginning to arrive in Syria to work with local forces. The commander overseeing the war in Syria, at the end of a long Saturday spent touring SDF bases, said “We do, absolutely, have to go with what we’ve got”.[533]

In September 2016, the U.S. spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) confirmed that the SDF, including the YPG, is also part of the “vetted forces” in the train and equip program and will be supplied with weapons. The President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan, condemned this and claimed that the SDF are “endangering our future”.[534]

In October 2016, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of the international coalition against ISIL, said that the SDF would lead the impending assault on Raqqa, ISIL’s then-stronghold and capital, and that SDF commanders would plan the operation with advice from American and coalition troops.[535] From November 2016, more than 300 U.S. Special Operations Forces were embedded to train and advise SDF fighters in the Raqqa offensive.[536]

2017-18

Kurdish troops and U.S. armored vehicle in Al-Hasakah, May 2017

U.S. Army 310th Engineer Company maintaining a Mabey Logistic Support Bridge during the Battle of Raqqa, 29 July 2017

File:DVIDS - Video - Coalition supports SDF fight against ISIS.webm

U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces operating in support of the SDF in Syria, October 2018

U.S. and Turkish soldiers conduct joint patrols, Manbij outskirts, 1 November 2018

In March 2017, the Trump administration deployed an additional 400 U.S. Marines to Syria to expand the fight against ISIL in the Raqqa offensive where they could provide artillery support for U.S.-backed local forces that were preparing an assault on Raqqa to liberate the city from IS militants. The deployment marked a new escalation in the U.S.’s war in Syria, and put more conventional U.S. troops in the battle that, until then, had primarily used Special Operations units. The 400 Marines were part of the 11th MEU from the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. They manned an artillery battery of M-777 Howitzers whilst additional infantrymen from the unit provided security; resupplies were handled by part of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element.[537] During the Raqqa campaign alone, this small artillery battalion fired over 40,000 shells (including 34,033 155mm), more than were used in the entire 2003 invasion of Iraq and only 20,000 fewer than all those fired by the U.S. military in Operation Desert Storm.[538]

In March 2018, SDF press secretary in Deir ez-Zor Mehdi Kobani reportedly told Sputnik Turkiye that U.S. forces were building a “large military base” in the oil-rich al-Omar region of Deir ez-Zor as new equipment had been reportedly arriving to U.S. bases in Syria. The al-Omar oilfield is the largest oil deposit in Syria, and was captured by the SDF during their campaign against ISIL in October 2017.[539][540]

It was reported in June 2018 that the 441st Air Expeditionary Squadron reportedly maintains an unpaved runway in SarrinRaqqa Governorate.[541][542][543]

2019-20 partial withdrawal of U.S. ground forces

On 19 December 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he ordered the pullout of all 2,000-2,500 U.S. troops operating in Syria, though no clear timetable was given.[544] U.S. operations in al-Tanf continued into 2019.[545]

On 16 January 2019, a suicide bombing claimed by ISIL in the SDF-controlled town of Manbij killed four U.S. personnel and injured three servicemen, making it the deadliest attack on Coalition forces in the country since the intervention.[546][547][548] The ISIL attack drew a second round of criticism of the U.S. president’s withdrawal order, with critics linking the attack with an emboldening of ISIL terror and insurgent tactics due to the announcement of a U.S. pullout, despite the group’s continued loss of territory in Syria.[549] President Trump offered condolences to the families of the slain American citizens on 17 January while he reaffirmed his policy of withdrawing troops.[550] Trump paid tribute to the fallen Americans during a trip to Dover Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Delaware on 19 January, where their remains were received.[551]

On 21 January, an ISIL SVBIED targeted a U.S. convoy accompanied by SDF troops on the ShadadiAl-Hasakah road in Al-Hasakah province, killing five SDF personnel. Witnesses said the SVBIED rammed into an SDF vehicle by a checkpoint held by Kurdish forces a dozen kilometers outside Shadadi as the U.S. convoy drove past. No Americans were harmed.[552]

CNN reported on 24 January that additional U.S. troops were moved to Syria to help provide security for the pullout of equipment and personnel as they are moved out via air and land routes. U.S. Department of Defense officials said the additional security forces would move around Syria to different locations as needed and may move in and out of the country at times. Troop numbers would also fluctuate as American presence gradually declines. Defense officials declined to give specifics on numbers, locations, or timetables, citing security concerns.[553] Local sources reported to Anadolu Agency on 28 January that around 600 U.S. troops had allegedly entered eastern Syria from western Iraq to help with the withdrawal process, arriving at discreet bases in Harab Isk and Sarrin villages set to be used as main evacuation centers during the withdrawal. The news agency added that the American-controlled airfields in Rmeilan and Tell Beydar would be used to airlift heavy weapons and equipment from the country; the Coalition itself did not confirm these reports.[554]

By the end of January 2019, according to two U.S. officials, more than 10 percent of American equipment and supplies had been removed from Syria, with 3,000 additional personnel brought into the country to facilitate the draw-down of forces. By 9 February, hundreds of U.S. airstrikes and ground support for the SDF continued as the Kurdish-led force began its final assault on the last ISIL holdouts trapped in a small cluster of hamlets in eastern Syria (including Al-Baghuz Fawqani and southern Al-Marashidah) no larger than a few square miles. U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, believed the SDF would be able to defeat the remaining diehard ISIL fighters “in days”, bringing an end to ISIL’s claim of a territorial caliphate.[555]

On 18 February, Commander-in-Chief of the SDF Mazlum Kobane expressed hopes the U.S. would halt its total pullout. Kobane said there were discussions about perhaps French and British troops supporting them, but demanded 1,000-1,5000 U.S. troops stay in Syria to provide “air cover, air support and a force on the ground” to help the SDF in its ongoing fight against ISIL. CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel reiterated the U.S. withdrawal was continuing.[500]

With the general withdrawal continuing, the White House announced late on 21 February that 200 residual U.S. troops would remain in Syria as a “peacekeeping force”. The peacekeeping deployment would be indefinite.[556] The next day it was revealed the actual number was 400 troops, not 200, as half would be based in Rojava and half at al-Tanf. Officials stated it was a part of an initiative to get NATO allies to commit to a multinational observer force that would establish a “safe zone” in Rojava to keep the Kurds and Turks from clashing, to prevent pro-Syrian government forces from attacking the Kurds, and to keep up pressure to prevent an ISIL resurgence. The U.S. is not seeking a United Nations mandate for the deployment and currently does not envision asking NATO to sponsor the mission, an administration official said, adding that the troops would not technically be “peacekeepers,” a term that carries restricted rules of engagement.[502]

On 7 March, Gen. Joseph Votel confirmed that U.S. forces were in no rush to pullout by a specific date, instead saying the completion of the withdrawal was conditional on ISIL no longer posing a security threat to U.S. forces and their allies.[557] By late March, the U.S. continued to stretch the timetable for the pullout. On 29 March, U.S. officials reportedly said the Pentagon’s latest plans called for cutting its combat force in northeastern Syria roughly in half by early May 2019, or to about 1,000 troops, and would then pause pullout operations. The military would then reduce the number of forces every six months, depending on conditions on the ground, until it reaches the 400 troops previously approved by the president. Under this plan, the lowest troop numbers wouldn’t be reached until autumn 2020. The longer timetable would provide the U.S. more time to negotiate and work out details over the planned multinational safe zone along Turkey’s border. Officials cautioned that the timetable was open-ended and still subject to change, with factors ranging from allied troop contributions to new orders from the president himself.[558]

In early May, video emerged online of U.S. forces firing upon an alleged Syrian government barge ferrying oil supplies in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The video was posted on Facebook by the pro-SDF “Deir Ezzor Media Center”.[559]

Turkish involvement

Turkish soldiers and Free Syrian Army fighters at the building in Afrin that had hosted the PYD-led government of Afrin Region, 18 March 2018

Turkey, a NATO member, has been involved in the Syrian Civil War since the beginning of hostilities. Turkey has trained and armed some members of the Free Syrian Army and al-Qaeda in Syria,[560][561] and has been involved in certain spillover incidents, however so far Turkey has not been involved in direct combat. On 2 October 2014, the Turkish Parliament authorized direct military action in both Iraq and Syria including using military force in Syria and Iraq as well as allowing coalition members to use bases in Turkey.[562] Turkey has also stationed troops and tanks on its southern border near the Syrian border city of Kobanî.[563] The Turkish government demanded several things to go along with them intervening against ISIL, including a buffer zone in Northern Syria, a no-fly zone over certain parts of northern Syria, ground troops from other countries, and the training of moderate opposition forces to fight both ISIL and al-Assad.[564][565]

In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden accused Turkey of funding al-Nusra and al Qaeda,[566] to which Erdoğan angrily responded, “Biden has to apologize for his statements” adding that if no apology is made, Biden would become “history to me.”[567] Biden subsequently apologized.[568]

Turkey also holds sovereignty over the Tomb of Suleyman Shah 35 km inside Syria, where it maintains a small garrison of Special forces that is surrounded by ISIL-controlled territory.[569]

On 22 February 2015, the Turkish Army mounted a rescue operation across the border to evacuate its soldiers from the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, an exclave of Turkey south of Kobanî. The Turkish convoy reportedly transited through Kurdish-held Kobanî en route to the tomb. One Turkish soldier was killed in what Ankara described as an accident. The success of the operation was announced 22 February by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.[570]

Rising anti-American sentiment in Turkey has occurred since the start of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria in January 2018 aimed at ousting U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds from the enclave of Afrin. A poll conducted in Turkey during the operation revealed that 90 percent of respondents believed that the United States is “behind” the Kurdish PKK and YPG.[571] After the start of the Turkish invasion, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated that “Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns.”[572] Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag urged the United States to halt its support for Kurdish YPG fighters, saying: “Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle.”[573]

In October 2019, Senator Lindsey Graham warned that he would “introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria“. He said he would also “call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate”.[574]

Northern Syria Buffer Zone

U.S. and Turkish soldiers rendezvous in the Northern Syria Buffer Zone, 4 October 2019.

On 15 January 2019, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he agreed with setting up a 35 km “safe zone” in northern Syria after engaging with US President Donald Trump a couple days prior.[575]

On 7 August 2019, after months of negotiations, Turkey and the U.S. reached a deal to create a 115 kilometer buffer zone in northern Syria along the Syria–Turkey border between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Separate from Turkey’s own occupation zone in northern Syria, the deal is partly implemented to prevent a potential future Turkish ground incursion into Rojava against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. Under the framework of the deal, the U.S. and Turkey would conduct joint troop patrols and Turkish reconnaissance aircraft would be allowed to monitor the zone. Kurdish YPG and YPJ forces along the Turkish border would dismantle border fortifications and withdraw to a “security belt” alongside regular SDF forces and remove all heavy weapons from the area. In turn, Turkey would not conduct airstrikes or establish military observation posts in northern Syria and will not “occupy” the region, as administrative and civil rule will be relegated to SDF military councils and the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. According to the SDF, the majority of the zone will not include any cities or towns.[576]

Reports of civilian casualties and war crimes

On 29 September 2014, several groups including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Aleppo Media Center, and the Local Coordination Committees reported that U.S. strikes hit a grain silo in the ISIL-controlled town of Manbij in northern Syria, killing two civilians.[577][578]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported ten airstrikes, also targeting various parts of the province of Idlib, killed at least one child and six other civilians. The group said at least 19 civilians had been killed in coalition airstrikes at that time.[579] The Pentagon reported it had no evidence of any civilian casualties from airstrikes targeting militants in Syria.[580] The United States has also acknowledged that its rules to avoid civilian casualties are looser in Syria than those for drone strikes elsewhere.[581]

The SOHR and other activist groups reported that seven civilians were killed when an air strike hit a gas distribution facility near the town of al-Khasham is the eastern Deir al-Zor province on 17 October 2014 and three civilians were killed in an air strike on 16 October 2014 in the north east province of al-Hassakah. According to their reports, most of the civilians killed were fuel tanker drivers.[582]

Destroyed neighborhood in Raqqa in August 2017

According to Reuters, 50 civilians were killed in Syria by US-led airstrikes, from the start of the campaign in late September 2014 to mid-November.[583] On 28 December 2014, a U.S. airstrike in the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab killed more than 50 civilians.[584]

On 21 May 2015, the United States admitted it “probably” killed two children in bombings near Harem on 4 and 5 November 2014. These are the first such admissions of the campaign, and followed a military investigation. A similar investigation regarding an event in Syria is underway, and two regarding events in Iraq.[585] Two adult civilians were also minorly injured in the Harem strikes. The deaths and injuries are attributed by the military investigation to unintentional secondary explosions, after the bombers hit their intended targets, linked to the Khorasan.[586] On 19 July 2016 a coalition led airstrike on the ISIL controlled villages of Tokhar and Hoshariyeh reportedly killed at least 56 civilians, including 11 children.[587] On 3 August 2016, dozens of civilians were killed after an airstrike in al-Qa’im, some sources claiming that 30 were killed.[588]

Airwars, which “maintains an extensive database of all known allegations in which civilians and friendly forces have been reported killed by the Coalition since August 2014”, reports between 503 and 700 civilians were killed by Coalition airstrikes in Syria as of April 2016.[589]

At least 33 people were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a school near Raqqa in March 2017[590] in what is described as war crime.[citation needed] On 16 March 2017, a U.S. airstrike in rebel-held Aleppo killed at least 46 people and wounded more than 100 after warplanes hit a mosque.[591]

According to a report by Amnesty International, the U.S.-led Coalition has provided falsified data to conceal the actual number of civilian deaths resulting from their bombing campaigns and is “deeply in denial” about civilian casualties in Raqqa. After an investigation by Amnesty International in June 2018, the U.S.-led Coalition confirmed that “coalition air strikes killed 70 civilians, mostly women and children – including 39 members of a single family.”[592]

According to Airwars,[593] the strikes of U.S.-led coalition killed as many as 6,000 civilians in Syria and Iraq in 2017.[594]

On 2 May 2018, Britain’s Ministry of Defense admitted for the first time that a civilian was “unintentionally” killed in an anti-ISIL drone strike on 26 March 2018. According to the MoD, the civilian was on a motorbike and entered the target area at the last minute. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the incident was “deeply regrettable”.[595][596]

On 25 April 2019 a joint investigation by Amnesty International and Airwars of over 200 strike sites reported that anti-ISIL Coalition bombing during the 2017 Battle of Raqqa had killed 1,600 civilians alone. CJTF-OIR reported the month prior that its 4-year operations over both Iraq and Syria amounted to 1,257 civilian casualties overall. “Coalition forces razed Raqqa…Amnesty International and Airwars call upon the Coalition forces to end their denial about the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction caused by their offensive in Raqqa,” the investigators said in a joint statement. The Coalition responded that they “continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure.”[597]

By October 2019, Airwars estimated 8,214-13,125 civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria due to Coalition airstrikes, including 1,744–2,333 children and 3,609 named victims. The Coalition’s own estimate of civilian deaths was 1,335.[598]

Results

According to CJTF-OIR, by May 2016, ISIL had lost 25 percent of the territory it possessed in Syria since the campaign began, mostly due to advances by YPG/SDF forces with heavy Coalition air support.[599] Overall, by the end of 2016 the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria was estimated by the Pentagon to have struck 32,000 targets (including 164 tanks, 400 Humvees, and 2,638 pieces of oil infrastructure) and killed 50,000 militants, with approximately 1/3 of these losses taking place in Syria.[35][600] By December 2017, the Pentagon increased the estimate to 80,000 ISIL fighters killed by coalition airstrikes between Iraq and Syria.[601]

By 23 March 2019, the day of ISIL’s territorial collapse in Syria, CJTF-OIR and partner forces had liberated nearly 110,000 square kilometers (42,471 square miles) from the Islamic State; as a result, 7.7 million people no longer lived under ISIL’s “caliphate”.[602]

Reactions

Foreign reactions

  • Australia – Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, praised the intervention, saying that an international effort was needed in order to combat the ISIL threat.[215] Despite Abbott’s support for the intervention, the Australian Government said it is not likely to contribute forces to operations in Syria.[603]
  • Canada – Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, said in October 2014 Canada would strike ISIL targets in Syria if the Assad government gave approval.[604] New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called President Obama almost immediately after coming into office to inform him that Canada will be ceasing air operations in coordination with Americans. Trudeau did not give a time frame.[605]
  • Czech Republic – Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic supported the intervention against the Islamic State and said that it’s important to keep supporting the ground forces in the battle against ISIS and the Czech Republic will keep providing military support to the Iraqi army and to the Kurdish Peshmerga. He also noted that air strikes won’t defeat Islamic State. The Czech government said that ISIS is enemy not only for safety in the Middle East, but also for security and stability in the Czech Republic and Europe.[606]
  • Ecuador – The Ecuadorian government opposed the airstrikes in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government.[607]
  • Egypt – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi expressed his government’s support for the international campaign against ISIL, and a spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry echoed his statements by reiterating the Egyptian government’s willingness to back the war against ISIL.[608][609]
  • Germany – German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier questioned whether President Obama’s plan was adequate in order to combat ISIL and said Germany had not been asked to participate in airstrikes nor would it participate if asked.[610]
  • Iran – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned ISIL’s actions but also called the airstrikes in Syria “illegal” because they were conducted without the consent of the Syrian government.[611] Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian was reported in Iranian media as saying that Iran had warned the United States that Israel would be at risk should the US and its allies seek to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad while fighting ISIL in Syria.[612]
  • Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel fully supported the U.S. government’s calls for united action against ISIL.[610]
  • Japan – A spokesperson for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Japanese government would continue to closely coordinate with the United States and other countries, along with offering support and cooperation in their strikes against ISIL.[613]
  • Netherlands – Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, showed understanding for the intervention against ISIL in Syria and said that his government was exploring options to contribute in the fight against ISIL.[614]
  • Russia – Alexander Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, opposed the military intervention “without the consent of the legitimate government” and said that “this step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law”.[212] On 14 October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov questioned the motives of the intervention, saying “Maybe their stated goal is not entirely sincere? Maybe it is regime change?” He also questioned the effectiveness of the year long campaign “With, as far as I know, 25,000 sorties they [US-led air campaign] could have smashed the entire [country of] Syria into smithereens,” continuing to remark that “positive results ‘on the ground’ are not visible”. He also criticized the continued supply of arms to rebels, saying “I want to be honest, we barely have any doubt that at least a considerable part of these weapons will fall into the terrorists’ hands.” He continued to call for the countries involved to join a coalition made up of Russian, Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Jordanian and Hezbollah forces against what Russia claims is solely ISIL and al Qaeda, but the US has asserted is primarily non-jihadist opposition forces.[615][616]
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, described the US air strikes on the Shayrat airbase as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext…. a serious blow to Russian-US relations, which are already in a poor state”.[617]
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov referred to the Sharyat attack as “an act of aggression under a completely invented pretext”. He compared events in April 2017 to “the situation of 2003, when the USA, the UK and several of their allies invaded Iraq without the UN Security Council’s approval – a grave violation of international law – but at that point they at least tried to show some material evidence.”[617]
  • Turkey – The Davutoglu Government called on the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to approve measures that would grant extensive authority to the President to launch military operations in both Syria and Iraq, including the authority to send troops across the border, although it is unclear whether the Turkish leadership intends to act on that authority. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged the establishment of a no-fly zone by coalition forces in northern Syria.[618]
  • United Kingdom – A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would not rule out airstrikes in Syria against ISIL.[610] On 26 September 2014 Parliament voted 524 to 43 to approve action inside Iraq.[619] While visiting Iraqi Kurdistan in mid October, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he saw no immediate demand from U.S. and Arab militaries for Britain to extend its airstrikes to Syria.[620] British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said on 21 October that British Reaper drones and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft would be starting intelligence-gathering missions in Syria “very shortly.” [80]
  • United Nations – Ban Ki-moonUN secretary-general, welcomed the airstrikes against militants in Syria, but noted that the involved parties “must abide by international humanitarian law and take all precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties”.[621]
  • Venezuela – At the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations, President Nicolas Maduro said “It’s President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government which have stopped the terrorists” and continued by saying “Instead of bombing and bombing, we must make an alliance for peace”.[622][623]

Syrian reactions

  • Syria – A week before the first airstrikes, Ali Haidar, the Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation, said that “any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria”.[212] However, despite Haidar’s original statement, after the coalition campaign began, the Syrian government struck a more conciliatory tone with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem suggesting the airstrikes were an indication that Syria and the anti-ISIL coalition were on the same side.[624]
  • Syrian opposition Syrian opposition – Hadi Bahra, the leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces called for airstrikes against ISIL before the intervention began. The coalition is recognized by 20 countries, the European Union, and the Arab league as the legitimate representative of Syria in opposition to the Assad government. Bahra said strikes were needed to weaken ISIL, a faction in the inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War, so that the Free Syrian Army and other moderate opposition forces could oppose Assad more effectively.[625] Despite Bahra’s support, many Syrian rebel groups have criticized U.S. airstrikes for targeting only ISIL who are enemies of the Assad government, while not also targeting Assad government forces, the results of which could help government forces gain more ground.[581] Meanwhile, jihadist groups within the opposition have portrayed the coalition as an anti-Sunni stooge of the Syrian regime,[626] while many Sunnis in Syria are angered that only extremist Sunnis are being targeted while mostly Shiite Assad forces aren’t targeted.[627] Some rebels defected to extremist groups as a result of the U.S. decision to strike jihadist groups other than ISIL, such as the al-Nusra Front.[628]

See also

References…

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-led_intervention_in_the_Syrian_Civil_War

Kurds in Syria

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Kurds in Syria
Total population
estimates from 1.6 million to 2.5 million [1][2][3][4]
Regions with significant populations
Al-HasakahQamishliTell TamerKobanîAfrin
Languages
mainly Kurdish (Kurmanji)[5]; also Arabic (North Levantine ArabicModern Standard Arabic)
Religion
Majority: Sunni Islam, Minority: Shia IslamKurdish Christianity[6]
Related ethnic groups
other Kurds

Ethnic decomposition map of Syria, Kurdish inhabited areas are shaded in pink, in 1976

The Kurdish population of Syria is that country’s largest ethnic minority,[7] comprising between 7% and 15% of the country’s population according to most sources.[1][8][9][10][7]

The northeastern Kurdish inhabited region covers the greater part of Hasakah Governorate. The main cities in this region are Qamishli (Qamishlo) and Al-Hasakah. Another region with significant Kurdish population is Kobanî (officially known as Ayn al-Arab) in the northern part of Syria near the town of Jarabulus and also the city of Afrin and its surroundings along the Turkish border.

Human rights organizations have accused the Syrian government of routinely discriminating and harassing the Syrian Kurds.[11][12] Many Kurds seek political autonomy for the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria, similar to Iraqi Kurdistan in Iraq, or outright independence as part of Kurdistan. In the context of the Syrian Civil War and the Rojava conflict, Kurds have established a self-governing region,[13][14][15] known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and commonly termed as “Rojava”.[16]

Demographics

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, and make up between 7 and 10 percent of the Syrian population as of 2011—between 1.6 and 2.5 million people.[17][2][9][10][1] The Kurdish population in Syria is relatively small in comparison to the Kurdish populations in nearby countries, such as Turkey (14.4–16 million), Iran (7.9 million), and Iraq (4.7–6.2 million).[1]The majority of Syrian Kurds speak Kurmanji, a Kurdish dialect spoken in Turkey and northeastern Iraq and Iran.[18]

It is estimated that at the beginning of the 20th century around 12,000 Kurds lived in Damascus; an unknown number of Kurds lived in the Kurd-Dagh region; 16,000 Kurds lived in the Jarabulus region; and an unknown number lived in the Jazira province where they were likely the majority.[19] In the 1920s after the failed Kurdish rebellions in Kemalist Turkey, there was a large influx of Kurds to Syria’s Jazira province. It is estimated that 25,000 Kurds fled at this time to Syria.[20] According to Stefan Sperl, these Kurdish newcomers constituted no more than 10% of the Kurdish population of Jazira at the time and all were granted citizenship by the French mandate authorities who recognized their agricultural skills.[21] However, the French official reports show the existence of at most 45 Kurdish villages in Jazira prior to 1927. A new wave of refugees arrived in 1929.[22] The mandatory authorities continued to encourage Kurdish immigration into Syria, and by 1939, the villages numbered between 700 and 800.[22] Sperl’s estimation also contradicts the estimates of the French geographers Fevret and Gibert,[23] who estimated that in 1953 out of the total 146,000 inhabitants of Jazira, agriculturalist Kurds made up 60,000 (41%), nomad Arabs 50,000 (34%), and a quarter of the population were Christians.[23]

Even though Kurds have a long history in Syria, the government has used the fact that many Kurds fled to Syria during the 1920s to claim that Kurds are not indigenous to the country and to justify the government’s discriminatory policies against them.[24][25]

Geography

Kurds mostly live in a geocultural region in Northern Syria. This region covers the governorate of Al Hasakah (formerly the Jazira province), a region also inhabited by many ArabsAssyriansArmenians and Chechens. The main cities in this region are Qamishli and Al-Hasakah. It also convers most of the northern part of Aleppo governornate. There is a big Kurdish population in the Kurd Dagh (Kurd mountains) area, located in the northwestern part of Aleppo governorate. This region extends both ethnically and culturally to the Turkish regions of KilisIslahiye and Kirikhan.The region of Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab), located in the eastern part of the Aleppo governorate, also has a significant Kurdish population, perhaps best known for resisting the long siege by ISIS. The northern countryside of Aleppo governorate, alternatively known as Şehba, also has a significant Kurdish population. Kurds mainly live in the rural countryside. The main towns are ManbijAl-Bab and Azaz, while also containing important smaller towns such as QabasinAl-Ra’i and Jarabulus.

Sometimes the Kurdish inhabited areas of Northern Syria are called “Kurdistana Binxetê” in Kurdish, which means Kurdistan below the border. Referring to the Syrian-Turkish border.

Many Kurds live in the large cities and metropolitan areas of the country, for example, in the neighborhood of Rukn al-Din in Damascus which was formerly known as Hayy al Akrad (Kurdish Quarter), and the Aleppo neighbourhood Sheikh Maqsood.[26][27]

History

Early settlements

The Crusade fortress of Krak des Chevaliers near Homs, which is known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), was originally the location of a Kurdish military settlement.

Kurdish settlement in Syria goes back to before the Crusades of the 11th century. A number of Kurdish military and feudal settlements from before this period have been found in Syria. Such settlements have been found in the Alawite and north Lebanese mountains and around Hama and its surroundings. The Crusade fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), was originally a Kurdish military settlement before it was enlarged by the French Crusaders. Similarly, the Kurd-Dagh (Kurdish Mount) has been inhabited by Kurds for more than a millennium.[28]

Ayyubid period

In the 12th century, Kurdish and other Muslim regiments accompanied Saladin, who was a Kurd from Tikrit, on his conquest of the Middle East and establishment of the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1341), which was administered from Damascus. The Kurdish regiments that accompanied Salidin established self-ruled areas in and around Damascus. These settlements evolved into the Kurdish sections of Damascus of Hayy al-Akrad (the Kurdish quarter) and the Salhiyya districts located in the north-east of Damasacus on Mount Qasioun.[29] The Kurdish community’s role in the military continued under the Ottomans. Kurdish soldiers and policeman from city were tasked with both maintaining order and protecting the pilgrims’ route toward Mecca. Many Kurds from Syria’s rural hinterland joined the local Janissary corp in Damascus. Later, Kurdish migrants from diverse areas, such as DiyarbakirMosul and Kirkuk, also joined these military units which caused an expansion of the Kurdish community in the city.[30]

Ottoman period

The first licensed female doctors in India, Syria and Japan. Anandibai Joshee (Indian), Kei Okami (Japanese), Sabat Islambooly (Kurdish Jew from Syria)[31] – October 10, 1885

During the Ottoman period (1516–1922), some large Kurmanji-speaking Kurdish tribal groups both settled in and were deported to areas of northern Syria from Anatolia. The largest of these tribal groups was the Reshwan confederation, which was initially based in the