Idlib
Turkey-backed rebels have shot down a Syrian army helicopter in western Aleppo, the second such incident in three days. A video was released shortly after the incident, showing the moment the militant anti-aircraft missile hit the Syrian military chopper.
Moscow expects Ankara to ensure the safety of all Russians who work in Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "We have no doubt that the Turkish authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Russian envoy and all embassy staff members," Peskov said. Turkish officials have reportedly increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov.
Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Turkey to refrain from provocative statements on Idlib, days after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli directed accusations toward Moscow. "We believe that in the context of the tense situation in the northwest of Syria, it is worth exercising restraint and in particular refraining from provocative comments that do not contribute to a constructive dialogue between our countries," the ministry said.
Turkey will send additional troops to Syria's Idlib in order for the establishment of a ceasefire, the country's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. "Those who don't comply with the ceasefire, including the radicals, will be hit and all precautions will be taken," he said. "Our observation posts that we have reinforced will continue to play an important role on monitoring the situation on the field," he added.
The Pentagon has denied that a deal was reached between Turkey and the U.S. regarding Idlib. "No such agreement was made," Voice of America's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb said on Feb. 12, citing Alyssa Farah, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman. Babb also said that reports of a closed door meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Akar and his U.S. counterpart Esper is false.
It’s hard to voice opposition to war when the coffins of slain soldiers are being sent back from Syria and when the nationalist mood is in full swing. However HDP deputy and former journalist Ahmet Şık, who has been jailed twice and is still tried on the Cumhuriyet case, says that they have the responsibility to question why so many young people are dying for.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Feb. 12 that its forces had killed 55 Syrian regime soldiers in Idlib, in a significant escalation in the battle to control the country’s last opposition stronghold. Turkey's move comes in the wake of an attack by regime forces earlier this week that claimed the lives of five Turkish troops.
Russia has said that the situation in Syria's Idlib was being aggravated by the flow of Turkish troops into the province. "The situation is aggravated by the flow of arms and ammunition into the de-escalation zone across the Turkish-Syrian border, as well as columns of Turkish armored vehicles and troops entering Syria's province of Idlib," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release on Feb. 12.
Turkish military will strike Syrian government forces by air or ground "anywhere" in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 12. Erdoğan also said Turkey was determined to push the Syrian troops beyond Turkish observation posts in Idlib by the end this month.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey highlighted during their meeting on Feb. 12 that Idlib deal must be upheld and the Syrian regime attacks need to stop as soon possible for a political solution process to be initiated in the war-torn country, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
The government, despite all the efforts of the public relations staff, has not been able to convince the streets about the presence of troops there. When one starts talking to a citizen on the street, they start asking, “What business do we have over there?” There’s no rocket science involved, no situation that requires extraordinarily high intelligence that we bird-brained people are somehow unable to understand.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey have extended their condolences to Turkey following a Syrian army attack that killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib. "The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I've sent Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO Ally #Turkey," Pompeo said on Twitter.
Damascus has said that it "categorically rejects" Turkish presence on Syrian soil. "Syria reaffirms its categorical rejection of any Turkish presence on the Syrian territory, as it constitutes a flagrant violation of the international law and a blatant aggression on the Syrian sovereignty," it said.
More people have fled fighting in Syria over the past 10 weeks than at any other time in the 9-year-old conflict, two U.N. agencies said on Feb. 11. "It's the fastest growing displacement we have ever seen in the country," Jens Laerke from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, adding that nearly 700,000 people had fled since December, mostly women and children.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Syrian government and Russia to cease their attacks in Idlib. “We call on Assad and on Russia, because Russia provides support to the regime, to stop these attacks, to respect international law and to fully support the UN efforts to try to find a peaceful solution,” Stoltenberg said.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Economy
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.