German president says country has responsibility to protect its Jews
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Halle synagogue shooter appears in federal court after release from hospital

Gunman charged with two counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder for what prosecutors have described as far-right ‘terror attack’

A person believed to be the suspect in the Halle shooting is escorted by policemen after landing in a helicopter at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, (Uli Deck / dpa / AFP)
A person believed to be the suspect in the Halle shooting is escorted by policemen after landing in a helicopter at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, (Uli Deck / dpa / AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

German president pays respects at scene of deadly anti-Semitic attack

German leaders are visiting the scene of a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack carried out on Yom Kippur in the city of Halle, as Jews demanded action to protect the community from the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, joined by Israeli ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff and local officials, laid flowers outside the synagogue before meeting with Jewish community leaders inside.

Late last night, Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a solidarity vigil at a historic synagogue in central Berlin, and firmly condemned the anti-Semitic rampage.


German president says country has responsibility to protect its Jews

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says after meeting with Jewish leaders at the site of a deadly anti-Semitic attack that the country had a duty to protect Jews on its soil.

“It must be clear that the state takes responsibility for Jewish life, for the security of Jewish life in Germany,” he said. “We must protect Jewish life.”


Erdogan threatens EU with refugee influx if criticizes Syria operation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns the European Union that it will allow millions of refugees to head to its shores if it criticizes Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.

“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan says in a speech to parliament.


EU, India, Denmark join condemnation of Turkey’s push in Syria

Denmark, India and the European Union are adding their voices to the international condemnation and concerns over Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria in an offensive there against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen calls it “an extremely serious situation, and there is reason to be concerned about civilians.”

Frederiksen says Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Denmark “for a conversation in which we will assert our position.” No details were given as to when the Turkish. diplomat would meet Kofod.

India’s foreign ministry issued a press release saying New Delhi is “deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria,” and urges Ankara to “exercise restraint and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”

A Syrian woman walks past smoke as Arab and Kurdish civilians flee following Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. -(Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

Meanwhile, the European Union says the Turkish offensive is setting back any hope for progress toward ending the conflict.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic says the offensive will worsen the stream of refugees from Syria, increase violence against innocent civilians and obstruct the fight against the Islamic State group.

She says: “We believe that new armed hostilities would further undermine the stability of the whole region, would exacerbate civilian suffering, would provoke further displacements, would add another obstacle to the very difficult UN led political process and would, that is also very important, threaten the progress that was achieved by the global coalition to defeat” IS.

She adds that there is “no military solution to the conflict in Syria and the only sustainable solution is a political one.”

— AP

Malfunctioning homemade weapons appeared to stop Yom Kippur shooter

The German suspect in a deadly anti-Semitic attack targeting a synagogue and a kebab shop on Yom Kippur could have caused more carnage if his homemade weapons had not malfunctioned during his shooting rampage.

Stephan Balliet, 27, was captured by police last night after he shot dead two people in a gun rampage in the city of Halle.

According to reports, throughout the video of the attack that he live streamed using a helmet-mounted smartphone, the gunman becomes increasingly enraged at his own ineptitude.

In the earliest minutes he berates his laptop as it takes too long to load programs and find a wireless signal, while later he curses as his homemade weapons fail to fire.

Unable to breach the entrance of the Jewish cemetery outside the synagogue, he shoots a passing woman, later firing another burst into her lifeless body and shouting “Pig!”

German synagogue attacker, identified as by media as neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet, during his rampage in Halle (Screencapture)

But he reserves his harshest language for himself, calling himself a “fucking idiot,” a “failure” and a “loser.”

Bleeding after a gunfight with police as he flees town in his crippled vehicle, he apologizes to the imagined audience watching online.

“That was it guys. A total loser,” he says into the lens before hurling the phone out of the car.

Around 2,200 people are believed to have watched his blundering, violent rampage on games streaming platform Twitch, the Amazon-owned company said — five of them live.

— with AFP

Merkel vows ‘zero tolerance’ for hate after anti-Semitic attack

Chancellor Angela Merkel vows there will be no tolerance for hate, after an anti-Semitic attack that left two dead as Jews celebrated Yom Kippur.

“The representatives of the constitutional state must use all means available against hate, violence and misanthropy. There is zero tolerance,” she says a day after a 27-year-old German suspect shot dead two in an attack that targeted a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.


Netanyahu ‘strongly condemns’ Turkish invasion of northern Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is joining international condemnation of Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, saying the offensive against Kurdish fighters could result in the ethnic cleansing of the minority group.

“Israel strongly condemns Turkey’s military invasion of Kurdish provinces in Syria and warns against ethnic cleansing of Kurds by Turkey and its allies,” Netanyahu says in a statement.

“Israel will make every effort to provide humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” the statement says.

Yom Kippur shooting video stays online despite crackdown

Video of the deadly shooting in Germany was easily accessible on 4chan, BitChute and other sites, attracting tens of thousands of views, despite efforts by tech companies to curb the spread of violent content.

Roughly 24 hours after the attack, video and links to an anti-Semitic “manifesto” published a week earlier by the gunman were also still available online using a simple keyword search on popular anonymous online forum 4chan.

Yesterday’s assault in city of Halle, which left two people dead, took place as Jews marked the holy day of Yom Kippur, with the gunman streaming the attack live online.

The assailant’s 35-minute video was originally livestreamed on Twitch, an Amazon-owned, gaming-focused streaming platform.

Twitch says it was viewed live by just five users and a recording was seen by 2,200 people before it was flagged and removed.

But as of this afternoon, the full video was still available on multiple sites promoting violent and sexual content, including BitChute and 4chan.


Turkish strikes reportedly hit civilian convoy in Syria

A Kurdish news agency and a war monitor say Turkish troops have bombarded a convoy of vehicles taking residents of the northern city of Raqqa to a border town, inflicting casualties among them.

The Kurdish Hawar news agency says the attack on the road leading to the border town of Tal Abyad killed three people and wounded several others.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkish airstrike occurred when a convoy carrying a tribal leader reached the entrance of Tal Abyad. It says several people were wounded but that no one was killed.

A picture taken in Akcakale at the Turkish border with Syria shows smokes rising from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad after a mortar fired from Syria landed in the garden of a Turkish government building in Akcakale. (BULENT KILIC / AFP)

Such contradictions in casualties’ figures are common in the aftermath of attacks.

Turkish troops have been bombarding the town of Tal Abyad since they launched their ground offensive against Kurdish fighters last night.

— AP

Iran calls for ‘immediate halt’ to Turkish Syria offensive

Iran is calling for an immediate halt to Turkey’s offensive on Kurdish-ruled northeastern Syria, citing concern for the dangers to civilians in the conflict zone.

“Iran… emphasizes (the need for) an immediate halt to the assault and the departure of Turkish military units from Syrian territory,” the foreign ministry says in a statement.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee with their belongings amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain on October 9, 2019. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

Iran is a close ally of the Syrian government, which has sought to exploit the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces that were the mainstay of the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria to win the region back to central government control.


German prosecutor says synagogue shooter planned Yom Kippur ‘massacre’

A German prosecutor says the suspect in the attack in the German city of Halle wanted to carry out a “massacre” in a synagogue and had about four kilograms (nearly nine pounds) of explosives in his car.

Germany’s chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank says that many questions remain about the suspect who is now in custody, a German citizen identified by media as Stephan Balliet.

German synagogue attacker, identified as by media as neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet, during his rampage in Halle, October 9, 2019 (Screencapture)

Investigators still have to determine how he got hold of the material to build homemade weapons and explosives and whether anyone knew of his plans.

Frank told reporters in Karlsruhe that “what we experienced yesterday was terror.” He says that the suspect wanted to create a “worldwide effect” by livestreaming his attack, in which two people were killed outside the synagogue. He wanted to encourage others to imitate him.

Balliet is suspected of two counts of murder and nine of attempted murder.

— AP

More than 60,000 displaced by Turkey assault on Syria — monitor

As of Thursday afternoon, Turkey’s military offensive on northeastern Syria has displaced more than 60,000 people in less than a day, according to a war monitor.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee with their belongings amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain on October 9, 2019. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says large number of residents from the border areas of Ras al-Ain, Tal Abyad and Derbasiyeh had fled their homes, mostly east towards the city of Hasakeh.


Iran FM pitches ‘expansive’ security, cooperation plan to Gulf states

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pitches the Islamic Republic’s Gulf security plan to neighboring nations, saying regional security cannot be provided by foreign powers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the plan at the UN General Assembly last month, calling on Gulf nations including arch-rival Saudi Arabia to join it but without giving details.

In an Arabic-language article published this morning by Kuwait’s Al Rai daily, Zarif says that the plan, named the Hormuz Peace Endeavor, offers the chance of “expansive security” and cooperation between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif smiles as he meets French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian (not seen) on September 22, 2019 in New York City. (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

Cooperation could include areas such as a regional non-aggression pact, combating terrorism, cybersecurity, energy and freedom of navigation, Zarif says.

“In order to save the region from the edge of ruin, we feel the necessity of realizing a new discourse more than ever,” Zarif wrote, according to a translation provided by his ministry. “The fate of the people and nations of the Persian Gulf is entwined … either everyone benefits from security in the region or everyone will be deprived of it.”


Dozens of IDF reserve officers join call to provide military, humanitarian aid to Kurds

Dozens of reserve Israel Defense Forces officers have signed on to a petition calling on the state to provide military and humanitarian assistance to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria who are under attack by Turkey.

The petition is the initiative of social and political activist Yair “Yaya” Fink, a major in the IDF reserves, who said in his plea that “as Jews and Israelis we cannot stand by when another people are abandoned by their allies, and left defenseless.”

“We remember very well… what happens when the nations of the world abandon the fate of a people,” Fink wrote in his online petition.

“Israel is a country that has the means to help the Kurdish people, and now is the time do do so,” he says. Fink’s petition urged Israel to provide food, clothing, medicine, intelligence and military assistance to the Kurdish fighters.

עדכון חשוב:המכתב עם חתימותיהם של מאות קצינים נשלח. תודה! ועכשיו לצעד הבא, צעדת מחאה בשלישי הקרוב משגרירות טורקיה בת"א…

פורסם על ידי ‏יאיא פינק‏ ב- יום חמישי, 10 באוקטובר 2019

Yesterday, Turkey launched airstrikes, fired artillery and began a ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw forces from the region.

It essentially abandoned Syrian Kurdish fighters and left the US ally vulnerable to a Turkish offensive that was widely condemned around the world.

Aid agencies warn of escalating crisis in Syria

A group of 14 international aid agencies are warning of an escalating humanitarian crisis in northeast Syria.

They say “civilians (are) at risk as violence escalates and humanitarian work is suspended.”

Thursday’s statement co-signed by the organizations — including Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and the Norwegian Refugee Council — said an estimated 450,000 people live within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the Syria’s border with Turkey “and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritize the protection of civilians.”

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive to Tall Tamr town, in the Syrian northwestern Hasakeh province, after fleeing Turkish bombardment on October 10, 2019. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

It added there already are more than 90,000 internally displaced people in the region, and tens of thousands of fighters with families held in camps and detention centers.

The aid agencies also are urging parties to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas.

— AP

Turkey official says Kurdish shelling kills 2, including baby

Two people were killed, including a baby, and 46 injured in shelling on Turkish border towns on Thursday, a local governor’s office says, following Turkey’s offensive on Kurdish forces in Syria.

“The first martyr of Operation Peace Spring was a nine-month-old Syrian baby, Mohammad Omar, and Cihan Gunes, a civil servant working for the tax office in Akcakale,” says the local governor’s office.


Putin to visit Saudi Arabia next week for talks on oil, Iran crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia Monday for talks on oil and tensions between Ryadh and Tehran, exacerbated by a recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, the Kremlin says.

The planned visit is the first by Putin since 2007 and will include a meeting with Saudi King Salman as well as the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov tells journalists.

The “long-awaited” visit will include discussions on “further cooperation to stabilize prices on the world carbohydrate market” as well as the situation in Syria, the Persian Gulf and Yemen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a conference of the Israeli Keren Hayesod foundation in Moscow on September 17, 2019. (Pavel Golovkin / POOL / AFP)

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, is the leading member of OPEC which has been cooperating with Russia to cap oil production in a bid to keep prices from falling too low.

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund says in a statement that it will announce more than 10 agreements during the visit totaling more than $2 billion.

Putin will continue on to the United Arab Emirates Tuesday to meet powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Emirati businessmen.


2 Giuliani associates arrested for campaign finance violations

Two Florida businessmen tied to US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance violations resulting from a $325,000 donation to a political action committee supporting Trump’s re-election.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

Records show they used wire transfers from a corporate entity they controlled to make a $325,000 donation to the America First Action committee in 2018. Records that became public through a lawsuit show that the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the true source of the money.

A lawyer for the men, John Dowd, hung up on an Associated Press reporter calling about the case.

— AP

Germany vows to boost security against ‘right-wing terror’ after attack

The deadly anti-Semitic attack on Yom Kippur was a “disgrace” for Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says, vowing to beef up security to fight far-right violence.

“This brutal crime yesterday was a disgrace for our entire country,” he told reporters. “We will on the federal level — this is not entirely new, but it is worth mentioning now — massively augment the security authorities” to tackle “right-wing terror.”


Turkey says death toll in Kurdish shelling rises to 4

The death toll from the shelling of Turkish border towns rose to four on Thursday, state television reported, a day after Ankara launched a military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.

Two civilians were killed in Mardin province, TRT said, adding to the two deaths already reported in neighbouring Sanliurfa province where a municipal worker and a nine-month-old baby were reported dead.


Rivlin speaks to German president after attempted Yom Kippur massacre

President Reuven Rivlin speaks on the phone with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a day after an attempted massacre at a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.

(L-R) German President’s wife Elke Buedenbender and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrive at the synagogue in Halle, eastern Germany, on October 10, 2019, one day after the attack where two people were shot dead (AXEL SCHMIDT / AFP)

“We appreciate what German authorities are doing to protect and safeguard German Jews, and we must continue to work without compromise and without hesitation. We must learn from this terrible event to ensure and make sure it does not happen again,” Rivlin tells his counterpart according to reports.

Earlier, Steinmeier laid flowers at the Halle synagogue before meeting Jewish community representatives inside.

He later told reporters that the country had a duty to protect Jews on its soil, also in light of its historical guilt for the Holocaust.

“It must be clear that the state takes responsibility for Jewish life, for the security of Jewish life in Germany,” Steinmeier said.


Italy summons Turkish envoy over Syria offensive

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio summons the Turkish ambassador over Ankara’s ongoing offensive in northern Syria, a statement says.

The ministry calls for an end to unilateral actions and recalled that the only lasting solution to the crisis in war-wracked Syria was through the United Nations.

Turkey’s intervention has sparked international anger, raising fears of a new refugee crisis in northern Syria and concern that thousands of jihadists being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could use the opportunity to escape.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive to Tall Tamr town, in the Syrian northwestern Hasakeh province, after fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border on October 10, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

The Turkish military, supported by Syrian proxies, launched the offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, despite widespread international warnings.

After an initial phase of air strikes and artillery fire, troops moved across the border and attacked some of the key towns in the area.


Likud MKs appeal election results after UTJ contests final vote count

A group of eight Likud lawmakers are contesting the official election results after the United Torah Judaism party filed an appeal on the final vote count.

The Likud petition filed to the Jerusalem District Court says that the party should stay with its 32 seats it won, but be given an additional 367 votes the lawmakers say were miscounted. The petition also claims the right-wing Yamina list was cheated out of 36 votes, but says the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties should be docked 31 and 38 votes respectively.

The petition comes after UTJ filed an appeal with the court earlier today after the  final vote count of the September 17 election saw the party lose a seat to Likud.

According to reports, that change was due to just 68 votes.

However, the extra seat given to the ruling party did not shift the balance of power between the rival blocs headed by Likud’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz.

Egypt’s Sisi denounces Turkey’s Syria offensive

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on criticizes Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria, the presidency said.

In this June 19, 2019 file photo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference in Bucharest, Romania (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

In a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Sisi “affirmed Egypt’s rejection of the Turkish aggression on Syria’s territory and sovereignty,” a statement from his office says.

Turkey bombarded northeastern Syrian border towns with air strikes and artillery on Wednesday, before troops moved across the border and attacked some of the key towns in the area.

Sisi warns the operation would have “adverse effects” on the “stability and security of the entire region.”

Last night, the Arab League warned that Turkey’s attack could help the Islamic State group “regain some of its force.”

Regional foreign ministers will gather in Cairo this weekend to discuss Turkey’s intervention, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general Hossam Zaki said.


NATO ally Norway suspends new arms exports to Turkey over Syria offensive

Norway, a NATO ally of Turkey, announces it’s suspending all new arms exports to the country after Ankara launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

“Given that the situation is complex and changing quickly, the foreign ministry as a precautionary measure will not handle any new demands for exports of defence material or material for multiple uses… to Turkey,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide says in an email sent to AFP.


Halle synagogue shooter appears in federal court after release from hospital

The suspect in yesterday’s synagogue attack in the eastern German city of Halle has been released from hospital and is taken to before federal judges in the city Karlsruhe.

Two people were shot dead in Halle on Wednesday, with a synagogue the prime target on Yom Kippur. The suspect, 27-year-old German Stephan Balliet, filmed the assault and live-streamed it.

The rampage was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch before police captured the suspect after a gun battle that left him wounded.

A person believed to be the suspect in the Halle shooting is escorted by policemen after landing in a helicopter at the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, (Uli Deck / dpa / AFP)

Photos published Thursday evening show the 27-year-old being ushered out of helicopter and into a police vehicle.

Earlier, Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said Balliet would be charged with two counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder in what he called a “terror” act that had been planned to be a “massacre.”

Supreme Court says no house arrest for alleged pedophile Malka Leifer

The Supreme Court orders alleged serial pedophile Malka Leifer back in jail while the state determines if she is mentally fit to be extradited to Australia on charges of sexual abuse against former students.

Last week, the Jerusalem District Court Judge Ram Vinograd ordered Leifer be released to house arrest, sparking international outcry.

Former principal Malka Leifer, wanted in Australia for child sex abuse crimes, seen at the Jerusalem District Court, February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The attorney general’s office appealed Vinograd’s decision, which was accepted by the court, which ruled that Liefer must stay behind bars during the legal proceedings.

Netanyahu no-shows to Likud vote reaffirming him as party leader

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was a no-show at a meeting Thursday to reaffirm support for him as its leader and sole candidate for prime minister.

The Likud Central Committee gathering, led by the party’s top decision-making body and was attended by only a fraction of its approximately 3,800 members, was scheduled after Netanyahu backed off his proposal last week to call a snap leadership primary, which political rival Gideon Sa’ar vowed to contend.

The committee instead approved a measure declaring Netanyahu Likud’s candidate for prime minister in the current Knesset and that the party will only sit in a government which he heads, whether for the entire term or under a rotation agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and then interior minister Gideon Sa’ar (L) seen at the Knesset on July 9, 2013. (Flash 90)

“The proposal was approved in an open vote with a decisive majority of votes,” Likud says.

The party did not give a figure on the results, but according to Army Radio, less than 10 percent of the Central Committee’s members took part in the vote.

Turkey says 174 ‘terrorists’ killed in Syria offensive

Turkey’s Defense Ministry says 174 “terrorists” have been “neutralized” in its cross-border military offensive, referring to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The ministry tweets that the number includes 19 alleged fighters killed in an airstrike on a shelter used by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Ras al-Ayn.

The numbers could not be independently verified.

Turkey considers the YPG a terror organization linked to a Kurdish insurgency at home and has declared the military offensive, launched Wednesday, necessary for national security.

— AP

UN chief expresses ‘deep concern’ over Turkish invasion of Syria

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expresses his “deep concern” at the spiraling violence in Syria, a day after Turkey launched an offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas.

“I want to express my deep concern about the escalation of conflicts we are witnessing in eastern Syria,” Guterres tells a press conference in Copenhagen.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a meeting in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 30, 2019, to discuss the situation in Libya. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)

He says any solution to the conflict needs “to respect the sovereignty of the territory and the unity of Syria.”

His remarks came as the five European members of the UN Security Council — France, Germany, Britain, Belgium and Poland — called on Ankara to halt its military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces.


NATO chief urges Turkey to show ‘restraint’ in Syria offensive

NATO’s secretary-general is urging alliance-member Turkey to show “restraint” in its military push into northern Syria, adding that the common enemy in the region is still the Islamic State group.

Jens Stoltenberg avoided any direct criticism of the Turkish incursion, repeating a previous call on Ankara to “ensure that [its] actions in northern Syria are measured and proportionate and avoid even more human suffering.”

Pro-Turkish Syrian fighters gather near the town of Azaz in Syria’s northern Aleppo province as they prepare to take part in an offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria launched by the Turkish military, on October 10, 2019. (Nazeer Al-khatib / AFP)

Stoltenberg spoke of the need to “continue to stand together in our common fight against the common enemy,” the Islamic State group. While enormous progress has been made against the group, he said, “we must make sure that we preserve those gains.”

He spoke in Athens after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Stoltenberg will meet Turkey’s leader in Istanbul tomorrow.

— AP

Security Council fails to pass resolution condemning Turkish invasion of Syria

A divided UN Security Council fails to agree on a statement following a closed meeting on Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria.

The five European council members who called today’s meeting — there are 15 member countries — urged Turkey in a joint statement afterward “to cease the unilateral military action.” They say it threatens progress against the extremist Islamic State group by a global coalition.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive to Tall Tamr town, in the Syrian northwestern Hasakeh province, after fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border on October 10, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

The Europeans warn that “renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose country is a key Syrian ally, told reporters that any council statement on Syria must address broader issues, including the presence of foreign forces in the country.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft tells reporters that US President Donald Trump “has made abundantly clear” that the United States “has not in any way” endorsed Turkey’s decision to mount a military incursion in northeast Syria.

— AP

Israeli police release Palestinian officials

Israeli police have released the Palestinian Authority’s governor of Jerusalem and a local Fatah official after arresting them and questioning them for hours, their lawyer says.

Police arrested governor Adnan Ghaith and the Fatah general secretary for Jerusalem, Shadi Mutour, at their homes in East Jerusalem.

They were released late last night after being questioned about alleged Palestinian Authority activity in Jerusalem, lawyer Mohammed Mahmud says.

Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Mahmud alleges the arrests were to prevent the two from accompanying a Saudi football delegation to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound yesterday.

PA activities in Jerusalem are barred by Israel, which captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Ghaith has been taken in for police questioning several times in recent months for allegedly carrying out political activities in Jerusalem.

— with AFP

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German president says country has responsibility to protect its Jews

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says after meeting with Jewish leaders at the site of a deadly anti-Semitic attack that the country had a duty to protect Jews on its soil.

“It must be clear that the state takes responsibility for Jewish life, for the security of Jewish life in Germany,” he said. “We must protect Jewish life.”