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Syria Today – U.S. Army Takes Down Turkish Drone; Israel Strikes Syria Ahead of Abdollahian Visit

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – U.S. Army Takes Down Turkish Drone; Israel Strikes Syria Ahead of Abdollahian Visit

On Thursday, the Pentagon reported that the U.S. military took down an armed Turkish drone that ventured within 500 meters of American troops in northeastern Syria. This marks a rare instance of one NATO member employing force against another. Meanwhile, amid ongoing conflicts in Gaza, Syria and Israel have engaged in multiple exchanges of fire. In the latest incidents, Israel targeted both Damascus and Aleppo’s international airports ahead of a visit by Iranian FM Amir Abdollahian.

Syria says Israeli missiles hit Damascus, Aleppo airports

Syria said Israeli forces launched simultaneous missile attacks on the airports in its capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo on Thursday, damaging the runways and putting both hubs out of service.

A Syrian military source cited by state news agency SANA said “bursts of missiles” hit the two airports at the same time, in what he said was a bid to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

The Israeli military said it does not comment on such reports.

Israel has for years carried out strikes against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, including against the Aleppo and Damascus airports.

Sources have told Reuters that strikes on the airports are intended to disrupt Iranian supply lines to Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that started in 2011.

Thursday’s strikes came a day before Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, was due to visit Syria.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, in retribution for the deadliest attack on civilians in its history when hundreds of gunmen crossed the barrier and rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday.

Tehran has celebrated the Hamas attacks but denied being behind them.

Iran, Syria presidents call for unity on Palestinian support

Reuters reported that the presidents of Iran and Syria have urged Islamic countries to reach agreement on a position in support of Palestinians, a news agency linked to Iran’s top security agency, Nournews, reported on Thursday.

“Islamic and Arab countries as well all free people of the world must reach a single position to stop the crimes of the Zionist regime against the oppressed Palestinian people,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told his Syrian counterpart over the telephone, Nournews reported.

On Wednesday, Raisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the first telephone call between them since their countries agreed in a March deal, brokered by China, to resume ties.

Iran and Syria are long-time allies in the Middle East.

Iran’s economic influence in war-torn Syria has grown in recent years, supplying the government of President Bashar al-Assad with credit lines and winning lucrative business contracts.

US shoots down armed Turkish drone after it came too close to US troops in Syria

The Pentagon said Thursday the U.S. military shot down an armed Turkish drone that came within 500 meters (yards) of American troops in northeastern Syria, in a rare use of force by one NATO member against another, AP reported.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, called it a “regrettable incident” and said U.S. troops were forced to go to bunkers for safety as Turkey bombed targets nearby.

Both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the new Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. CQ Brown, spoke with their Turkish counterparts quickly after the incident to emphasize the value they place on their relationship with Turkey — but also the need to avoid any similar incidents in the future and ensure the safety of U.S. personnel.

The decision to shoot down an ally’s armed drone “was made out due diligence and the inherent right of self-defense to take appropriate action to protect U.S. forces,” Ryder said, adding that “we have no indication that Turkey was intentionally targeting U.S. forces.”

U.S. officials earlier told The Associated Press the shootdown was ordered after more than a dozen calls to Turkish military officials stating that U.S. forces were on the ground in the area and that the U.S. military would take action to protect them if the drone didn’t leave. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of a sensitive military incident.

Ryder said U.S. forces observed Turkish drones doing airstrikes around Hassakeh at about 7:30 a.m. local time, and some strikes were inside a so-called American “restricted operating zone” just a kilometre (about a half mile) from U.S. troops. He said a bit later a Turkish drone re-entered the restricted area “on a heading toward where U.S. forces were located.”

Commanders determined it was a threat and U.S. F-16 fighter jets shot it down around 11:40 a.m., Ryder said, adding that no U.S. forces were injured.

The incident occurred on the same day as a drone attack killed at least 80 people in government-controlled Homs, Syria, where explosive-laden drones were detonated during a military graduation ceremony attended by young officers and their families. An additional 240 people were injured, according to Syria’s health ministry.

Why Syria and Israel have exchanged attacks during Israel’s war with Gaza

The Washington Post published a report on the history and fighting between Israel and Syria. The report provides an overview of the ongoing conflict and tensions between Israel and Syria, as well as the broader regional dynamics involving Iran, Hezbollah, and the United States. 

The report starts by reporting an exchange of shelling between Israel and Syria, triggered by mortar launches from Syria into northern Israel. Israel responded with artillery strikes. This incident indicates the ongoing volatility in the region.

The report mentions a recent exchange of fire between Israel and Hezbollah near the Lebanon-Israel border. Hezbollah is described as an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This raises concerns about the potential for escalation in the conflict.

The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent to prevent the expansion of the conflict. This underscores the U.S.’s interest in stabilizing the situation and preventing further escalation.

Israel is reported to be massing troops near the Gaza Strip and calling up reservists, indicating a potential offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. This adds another layer of complexity to the regional situation.

The report notes that mortar attacks from Syria are viewed as symbolic and rarely cause significant damage. The conflict between Syria and Israel has been ongoing for more than half a century, with these attacks being a continuation of that long-standing dispute.

Iran is described as a close military and political ally of Syria. It is mentioned that Israel views Iran’s presence in Syria as a threat and has conducted strikes against Iranian positions and Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Iran’s expanding influence in Syria is a source of concern for Israel and the United States.

Hezbollah’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is highlighted, with the group aiding Assad in his efforts against rebel forces.

The United States has launched strikes on what it identifies as Iranian positions in Syria under different administrations, targeting groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This reflects the U.S.’s efforts to counter Iranian influence in the region.

The report mentions the impact of strikes attributed to Israel, including damage to the Damascus airport and the targeting of military facilities.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly warned Assad against getting involved in the Hamas-Israel conflict or allowing attacks from Syrian soil. This is significant because the UAE has normalized relations with Israel and has reestablished ties with Assad, despite his controversial actions during Syria’s civil war.

Overall, the report highlights the complex web of relationships and conflicts involving Israel, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and the United States, with concerns about potential escalation and regional stability.

Denmark expands controversial Syrian refugee policy despite repeated judicial setbacks

Hashim Daher Amam is a proud and independent 75-year-old man — and that might have been his undoing. He lives alone in a room in a shared flat but spends most of his time with his daughter-in-law and grandchildren who stay nearby.

With a smile and mock indignation, he emphasizes, “I drive her and the grandchildren, not the other way around.” He does his own shopping and cooking, takes his medication for heart ailments, and cleans and dresses himself.

The effect of the Syrian septuagenarian’s independence, according to the Danish Immigration Service (DIS), is that Hashim does not “have a life worthy of protection” under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Without any “element of dependency… that goes beyond the normal emotional ties,” the DIS refused to extend Hashim’s residence permit this July, revoking his refugee protection and putting him in fear of being separated from his family and returning to Syria.

“I did not come here for the clean air. I came here to live a life of safety and dignity”

Hashim’s case is the norm rather than the exception in Denmark. The Scandinavian welfare state has not only persisted with a controversial asylum policy, it has expanded it, steadily increasing the number of Syrian regions it considers safe for return.

It did so even though a majority of individuals considered for revocation by the DIS ultimately retained their asylum status. It did so in contravention of the official position of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Syria and the EU parliament and despite contradictory findings by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. And perhaps most significantly, it did so while acknowledging that the conditions in these countries are still “serious, fragile and unpredictable.”

Iranian military reinforcements enter Syria from Iraq

North Press reports that at dawn on Thursday, Iranian reinforcements reached military posts of Iran-backed militias in Deir-ez-Zor, eastern Syria, coming from Iraq.

The Iranian reinforcements come after an unidentified aircraft bombed on October 9 a military post of the Quds Force, affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The attack, which took place on the outskirts of the village of al-Heri in the countryside of Abu Kamal, southeast of Deir-ez-Zor city, killed militants and damaged logistics warehouses.

A military source in the Quds Force said that the pro-Iranian militias brought in more than eight cargo vehicles through the Sikek border crossing coming from Iraqi territory.

He added to North Press that the convoy included logistical materials and ammunition, in addition to two vehicles carrying military personnel in civilian clothes.

The vehicles entered the military posts of the Quds Force in Abu Kamal, and transported militants coming from Iraqi territory to a military post next to al-Shifaa Hospital in the town of al-Mayadin in the eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor.

US, Russia avoid pressuring Turkey to end attacks on NE Syria – Analysts

Analysts believe the US and Russia do not want to put more pressure on Turkey to stop it from conducting “low-level” attacks on northeastern Syria.

John Rossomando, geopolitical analyst and expert on the Middle East, told North Press that the US and Russia avoided being involved in Turkeys’ recent attacks and the international policy in northeast Syria has focused on creating “a largely stable governance area and to keep ISIS at bay in the wake of its destructive reign.”

On Oct. 5, Turkey launched many airstrikes, artillery shells, and drone strikes against 28 infrastructure facilities, 150 residential areas, 34 military sites, including 21 locations of the Syrian government forces, seven farmlands, three factories, a school and a hospital, according to the Monitoring and Documentation Department of North Press.

Turkey views the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as an arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which prompted the current Turkish attacks on northeastern Syria, according to Rossomando.

He further said the US’ main interest in the region is to keep ISIS under control.

Meanwhile, Calvin Wilder, senior analyst at New Lines Institute, noted the US views cooperation with Turkey “as a very high priority” and was definitely reluctant to put pressure on Turkey “to change its behaviour in Syria, since that could alienate Erdogan and make cooperation on other priorities harder.”

Wilder explained that if the US plays the role of “mediator” between Turkey and the SDF, it would “complicate the U.S.-Turkey relationship in ways no one in Washington is willing to commit to.”

As for Russia, its priorities in Syria depend on cooperation on certain levels with Turkey, he noted.

Wilder added that the US and Russia have certainly pressured Turkey to stop it from conducting major new military operations in the region, but they are not “willing to apply the amount of pressure on Turkey to prevent these lower-level drone strikes and artillery attacks”.

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