The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria says humanitarian conditions are getting worse by the day since Turkey began its invasion last week.
Tuesday’s statement warns that there is lack of much-needed humanitarian assistance after international organizations stopped their activities and withdrew their employees.
The region’s semi-autonomous administration says there is a lack of medical equipment and medicines after “most of the medical centers stopped functioning.”
The administration is calling on the UN, Arab League and European Union to “intervene quickly and provide medical, logistical and humanitarian assistance to the displaced to avoid the humanitarian crisis.”
The UN humanitarian aid coordinator says at least 160,000 civilians in northeastern Syria have been displaced amid Turkish-led military operations against Kurdish fighters.
Spokesman Jens Laerke of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says most of the displacement has taken place from the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad, where people are fleeing south.
He said OCHA was especially concerned about some 13,000 people at the Ein Issa displacement camp, near where “hostilities and shelling” took place yesterday.
Separately, spokesman Rupert Colville of the UN human rights office says it was “not seeing large numbers of civilian casualties” so far — “a few each day” — but people were being killed on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border.
He cautions: “Obviously we’re not necessarily hearing all cases, either.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Turkey’s operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria would not stop until “our objectives have been achieved.”
Turkey is in the seventh day of its assault against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a “terrorist” off-shoot of Kurdish insurgents in its own territory.
“God willing, we will quickly secure the region stretching from Manbij to our border with Iraq and ensure that, in the first stage, one million, and then two million Syrian refugees return to their homes of their own free will,” Erdogan says in a televised speech in Baku, where he was attending a regional conference.
He says 1,000 square kilometers of Syrian territory had so far been “liberated from the separatist terrorist organization.”
Turkey plans to establish a safe zone stretching across northern Syria, to which it can repatriate many of the 3.6 million refugees that it is hosting from the Syrian conflict.
A Turkish soldier was killed this afternoon after shelling by Kurdish militants in Syria’s Manbij region, the defense ministry says in a statement.
“Following artillery fire by the terrorists from the Manbij region… one of our heroic comrades was killed and eight were injured,” the ministry says.
Three people were seriously injured after being struck by lighting on Zikim beach in southern Israel, according to reports.
Magen David Adom paramedics were treating the three for life-threatening injuries at the scene.
The UN is warning that reported summary executions of civilians in northeastern Syria carried out by pro-Turkish fighters could amount to a “war crime” and that Ankara could be “deemed responsible.”
The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces said over the weekend that at least nine civilians were “executed” as part of Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, which began nearly a week ago.
Among them was 35-year-old Hevrin Khalaf, the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, who according to the forces was taken out of her car and killed by Turkish-allied Syrian fighters.
The UN rights office says its staff had viewed two separate pieces of video footage “showing what appear to be summary executions carried out by fighters belonging to the Ahrar al-Sharqiya armed group, which is affiliated with Turkey, on 12 October.”
Spokesman Rupert Colville says the footage, which has been widely shared on social media, appeared “to show the fighters filming themselves capturing and executing three Kurdish captives” on a main highway.
“Only one of the captives appeared to be wearing military uniform,” he tells reporters in Geneva, adding that the office had also received reports of Khalaf’s execution the same day “on the same highway”.
He says the UN was working to verify the footage and confirm the details of the events, but stressed that under international law, “summary executions are serious violations, and may amount to a war crime.”
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has condemned the racist behavior of his country’s soccer fans.
Local fans made Nazi salutes and directed monkey noises at the black players on England’s national team during a European Championship qualifying match. England won 6-0.
Borissov says “it is unacceptable that Bulgaria, one of the most tolerant countries in the world where people of different ethnicities live in peace, to be associated with racism and xenophobia.”
Bulgarian fans have already been sanctioned for other racist abuse in qualifying for Euro 2020 and played the match against England on Monday in a partially closed stadium.
Borissov also calls for Bulgarian soccer federation president Borislav Mihailov to resign following a run of poor results, and says he ordered sports minister Krasen Kralev to terminate any relations with Mihailov until he quits.
Two of the three people that were apparently injured by a lighting strike on Zikim beach outside Ashkelon are in critical condition, according to reports.
The third person is reportedly in serious condition but is semi-conscious.
The unusual incident comes during powerful lightning storms that have descended on Israel last night all the way from the Golan Heights in the north to the country’s south.
Britain says it’s suspending military exports to Turkey following the latter’s incursion into northeastern Syria, as it carries out a review of arms sales to its NATO ally.
“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says in a statement to parliament.
“No further export licences to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”
Ankara’s assault against Kurdish forces launched last week has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. Raab says it has “seriously undermined the security and stability of the region.”
“This is not the action we expected from an ally, it is reckless, counterproductive, it plays straight into the hands of Russia and the Assad regime,” he tells lawmakers.
Britain’s arms sales suspension follows similar moves by key European and NATO allies, including Germany — one of Turkey’s main arms suppliers — and France.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau says Israel has a “moral duty” to help the Kurds, who are facing a humanitarian crisis and mass displacement amid Turkish-led military operations against Kurdish fighters.
“It’s our moral duty during this time to help the Kurdsish people as much as possible prevent their annihilation,” Lau told President Reuven Rivlin during a visit to his sukkah according to reports.
Ankara’s assault against Kurdish forces launched last week has prompted a chorus of international condemnation, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Russia says that Syrian government forces had taken control of the city of Manbij, after Damascus deployed troops to the country’s north to contain a Turkish offensive.
“The Syrian government army has full control over the city of Manbij and nearby settlements,” the Russian defense ministry says in a statement.
A Russian envoy for Syria says that Moscow will not allow Turkish and Syrian government forces to clash, underscoring his country’s role as de facto power broker in the conflict amid a US pullout.
Alexander Lavrentyev, presidential envoy for Syria, tells Russian state news agencies that “no one is interested” in potential fighting between Syrian government troops and Turkish forces that entered Syria last week. Lavrentyev said Russia “is not going to allow it.”
Lavrentyev also denies reports saying that Moscow has given the green light to Turkey’s operation in Syria and insisted that Russia “has always thought that any military operation in Syria is unacceptable.”
Lavrentyev confirms that Kurdish leaders and representatives of the Syrian government held talks at a Russian military base last week but said that he was not aware of any results.
French diplomatic officials say talks between France and the US are focusing on the need to prevent a re-emergence of the Islamic State group amid the violence in Syria.
According to two officials with his office, President Emmanuel Macron spoke with US President Donald Trump in a phone call yesterday, insisting on the threat posed by Turkey’s offensive in northeast Syria to the whole region and Europe.
The officials say France’s priority is to issue a strong, coordinated diplomatic response in order to put pressure on Turkey so that the country ends its offensive in northern Syria.
Macron also spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday in a discussion that “underlined the deep divergence of views,” according to a statement from his office.
A US official says the approximately 1,000 US troops being withdrawn from northern Syria will reposition in Iraq, Kuwait and possibly Jordan.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive planning for a US pullout amid heavy fighting between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces.
The official says the American troops have pulled out of the Manbij area, where US outposts were set up in 2017. Troops are consolidating their positions to prepare to fly out of the country soon.
The official says US troops based in Iraq could conduct cross-border operations against the Islamic State group in Syria as they did before creating the now-abandoned partnership with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The White House announced a week ago that US forces in northeast Syria would move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish assault, essentially abandoning the Kurds who fought alongside American forces against Islamic State militants.
The Prisons Service decides to move the detained Russian hacker at the heart of the Naama Issachar case to protective custody, according to the Ynet news site.
The decision to move Aleksey Burkov to the supervised wing in Nitzan Prison was made together with government officials, the report says.
Moscow is reportedly seeking to trade Issachar for Burkov, who is in Israel while awaiting extradition to the United States for alleged cyber crimes and credit card fraud.
Russian and Israeli media have reported that Moscow is seeking a swap to stop the US obtaining custody of Burkov, who is reportedly suspected of taking part in the Kremlin-led effort to interfere in the American elections.
Bulgaria’s football union president has resigned, a day after racist abuse marred a match against England in Sofia.
“Today the president of the Bulgarian Football Union Borislav Mihaylov presented his resignation, which will be handed in to the members of the executive committee on its meeting on Friday,” the union says in a statement on its website.
The decision “resulted from the tension created over the past days, which is detrimental to Bulgarian football and the Bulgarian football union,” the statement says.
The Euro 2020 qualifier, which England won 6-0, was twice halted by racist chanting aimed at England players.
The UN Security Council will convene again tomorrow to discuss Turkey’s military incursion in northeast Syria, according to diplomats.
This session was requested by European countries with seats on the 15-member council, the diplomats say.
At a first meeting last Thursday, the council was divided, and only the European members issued a statement calling for an end to the Turkish offensive.
On Friday, Russia and China blocked a US-sponsored text that also called for an end to the Turkish assault.
The 19-year-old British woman facing charges in Cyprus for allegedly falsely accusing 12 Israeli teenagers of raping her at a beach resort in July takes the stand today for the first time in her criminal trial.
The woman has pleaded not guilty to a public mischief charge for making what prosecutors say was a false claim that she was raped by the Israeli teenagers at the Ayia Napa holiday resort on the east Mediterranean island.
According to the Cyprus Mail, the British woman told the court that police coerced her into retracting the claim
“They said they would arrest me if I didn’t say I had lied. I was so scared, I didn’t think I would leave that station without signing that statement.”
The woman’s lawyers say the rape allegation was not properly investigated, and have complained that there is no recording of her eight-hour interrogation that led to her signing the confession without first speaking to a lawyer.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz hosts German ambassador Susanne Wasum-Rainer at his Sukkah this afternoon, where he expressed support for Berlin’s efforts to halt the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held areas of northeastern Syria.
In a Facebook post, Gantz says he told Wasum-Rainer that he appreciates Berlin’s suspending arms sales to Turkey to protest Ankara’s assault against Kurdish forces.
“I stressed to her the urgent humanitarian situation and the danger posed to the Kurds and the urgent need for the international community to apply pressure on Erdogan until he stops this terrorist assault” Gantz says in a Facebook post.
— Susanne.Wasum-Rainer (@GerAmbTLV) October 15, 2019
Saudi Arabia and Palestine draw 0-0 in their first-ever game in the West Bank, a 2022 World Cup qualifier.
The game between the teams was held at the Palestinian national stadium in Al-Ram, part of the West Bank close to Jerusalem but cut off from the city by the Israeli security barrier.
Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub said the 8,000 capacity Faisel Husseini stadium was sold out.
The game marks a change in policy for Saudi Arabia, which has previously played matches against the Palestinian team in third countries, in line with a decades-long Arab boycott of Israel.
The five people who were injured by a lighting strike on Zikim beach earlier today have been identified in media reports as the Hazut family from the southern city of Beersheba.
The family’s 14-year-old son is fighting for his life at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, while their 21-year-old daughter-in-law is being treated for serious injuries.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expresses concern about the effect Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria could have on the fight against the Islamic State group and stability in the region.
Stoltenberg says: “I am concerned about the consequences for … the gains we have made in fighting our common enemy,” the Islamic State group. “And it is extremely important that we preserve those gains.”
He was speaking in London after meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the actions of NATO member Turkey.
Britain and other European nations have suspended arms sales to Ankara following the invasion.
Stoltenberg says the move “reflects that many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is calling for a meeting of the international coalition against the Islamic State group, including the United States and Turkey, to discuss the situation in northeast Syria.
Speaking at the National Assembly, Le Drian says he will travel soon to Iraq to meet with key actors in the region, including Kurdish leaders.
France is still dialoguing with Syria’s Kurds, who were key allies in a US-led coalition against IS, he says.
“There’s some trouble” in the relationship between the European Union and the US, Le Drian acknowledges. “That is why the coalition needs to meet.
He calls on both the United States and Turkey to take their responsibilities and tell allies how they intend to keep fighting the IS group
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes an official request of Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to pardon an Israeli-American jailed for smuggling cannabis who is caught up in a prisoner exchange request.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office says the prime minister sent Putin a letter requesting that Russia release 26-year-old backpacker Naama Issachar.
Issachar was caught with nine grams of marijuana in her checked luggage while transiting from India to Israel at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in April. She was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail by a Russian court on Friday, with Moscow reportedly seeking an exchange of a prisoner set to be extradited by Israel to the United States for her release.
Israeli officials have blasted Issachar’s sentence as disproportionate, and have called on Russia to release her. Netanyahu brought up Issachar’s detention in a conversation with Putin last week, while President Reuven Rivlin penned a personal appeal to the Russian leader this week, asking for his “mercy and compassion” in her case.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders says its suspending most of its operations in northeast Syria, out of concern for the safety of its workers during Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish positions in the area.
“The latest developments have increased the need for humanitarian assistance, yet it is impossible to deliver it with the current insecurity,” Robert Onus, the charity’s emergency manager for Syria, says in a statement.
The group, widely known by its French initials MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), was operating in cities and camps including Ain Issa, Al Hol, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.
In Tal Tamer, for example, MSF says it had been distributing blankets, food and water to “thousands of people who were arriving in the town daily” since the Turkish incursion began last week.
“Given the numerous groups fighting on different sides of the conflict, we can no longer guarantee the safety of our Syrian and international staff,” it says.
But while international staff will be evacuated, “we are extremely worried about the safety of our Syrian colleagues and their families who remain in northeast Syria,” it said.
MSF says its personnel would remain in northwest Syria, providing health care at facilities and in mobile clinics.
The UEFA Champions League says it’s opening disciplinary proceedings against Turkey into “potential provocative political behavior” by their soccer players after making military salutes in their last two matches.
In both their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania on Friday and France today, Turkish players made the salutes — seen as supporting Turkey’s current military operation in Syria — as they celebrated late goals.
UEFA says in a statement that it has appointed an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to investigate.
📸: AFP pic.twitter.com/rLWNSbmgAL
— Kurdistan 24 English (@K24English) October 15, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence will leave within 24 hours to Ankara to press Turkey for a ceasefire in its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, according to a US official.
“We will be launching off to Ankara in the next 24 hours,” the official says, a day after Pence announced his trip to Turkey without specifying the timing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly canceled his trip to Tokyo next week, due to the ongoing uncertainty over the next government.
Reports in Hebrew-language media earlier today said Netanyahu was scheduled to leave for Tokyo on Saturday night to attend the October 22 enthronement of Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito. His aides did not confirm the trip, but did not deny that he was considering it.
Later, reports said the prime minister canceled the trip because it was too close to his October 24 deadline for trying to form a governing coalition.
Turkey vows to pursue its Syria offensive and slams a “dirty deal” between President Bashar Assad’s regime and Kurdish forces after the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria.
“We will continue to combat all terrorist groups, including Daesh, whether or not the world agrees to support our efforts,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, tells AFP, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
The United States is not aware of any “major” escape of Islamic State extremists since Turkey launched its assault on Syrian Kurdish fighters holding the prisoners, according to a US official.
“We haven’t seen any major successful breakout so far of the detainees,” the senior administration official tells reporters on condition of anonymity.
However, the official says that anywhere between 50 and 150 wives and children of Islamic State prisoners had escaped in the chaos after Turkish forces attacked last week.
“We don’t know where they went. That’s one significant event there,” the official says.
“But of course, we don’t have the same ability to monitor this,” he said, acknowledging the reduced capacity of the United States as it withdraws troops on orders of President Donald Trump.
The official’s remarks appeared at odds with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper who, criticizing Turkey on Monday, said the incursion “resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees.”
Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, is joining France and Germany in halting sales of military material to Ankara over its offensive in northeastern Syria.
Spain’s Socialist government asked Turkey to “put an end to this military operation,” saying it “endangered regional stability,” increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.
“In coordination with its European Union partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” a foreign ministry statement says.
“Turkey’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed and resolved by political and diplomatic means, not by military actions.”
Spain was Turkey’s fifth biggest arms supplier between 2008 and 2018 after the United States, South Korea, Germany and Italy, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Key Damascus ally Iran is renewing its call on Ankara to end a deadly assault on northeastern Syria, as Turkey pressed a cross-border offensive against Kurdish forces.
“The imperative now is to end the incursion into #Syria,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posts on Twitter.
Iran last week called for an immediate halt to the offensive that was launched on October 9 after the United States announced it would withdraw all its troops from the area.
Since then, Syria’s massively outgunned Kurds have forged a deal with Damascus, allowing regime soldiers to redeploy in the Kurd-controlled region for the first time since 2012.
Despite international outcry over its assault, Turkey has vowed to pursue its offensive, slamming the “dirty deal” between President Bashar Assad’s regime and Kurdish forces.