Photo Credit: USAF Staff Sgt. Brian J. Valencia
F-16 Fighting Falcon (Sufa) (illustrative)

Two journalists were killed in an air strike Sunday afternoon (Oct. 13) by Turkey on a civilian convoy traveling in northern Syria. The convoy was carrying local and foreign journalists near the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, a key border town where heavy fighting has been reported.

US President Donald Trump and Trump administration officials have demanded Turkey implement a total ceasefire — a demand which Ankara has rejected. In response, Trump imposed sanctions on Monday against the regime of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Vice President Mike Pence said he will lead a delegation to Turkey in the “immediate future” in an effort to end the violence.

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On Tuesday, the UK suspended arms sales to Turkey, as did France and Germany. According to security sources in Israel, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Norway, the Czech Republic and Spain have joined the embargo as well. Approximately 1,000 US troops who have withdrawn from Syria are being deployed instead in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan, the same sources said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has meanwhile “strongly condemned” the Turkish air strike that killed 15 civilians on Sunday, including two journalists, and injured an unknown number of others.

Syrian Kurdish journalist Saad Ahmed, a reporter for local news agency Hawar News, was killed immediately in the strike. Three other journalists were injured, including Mohammed Hussein Rasho, a Syrian Kurdish reporter and cameraman for Cira TV. Rasho died of his wounds the following day, according to Cira TV Director Zanar Jafr, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

Cira TV is a Yazidi broadcaster supportive of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, according to CPJ’s review of its broadcasts. Rasho had worked there for about two months, Jafr said.

“Journalists have come under attack by the Assad regime and its allies, the Islamic State group, and now Turkish forces,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on Turkish authorities to immediately cease their reckless attacks on journalists and other civilians.”

Russian military forces are now patrolling areas of fighting in northeastern Syria between Turkish and Kurdish troops, according to United Press International (UPI).

Moscow’s Defense Ministry said its military police in the Kurdish town of Manbij were patrolling the Syria-Turkey border and interfacing with Turkish personnel.

According to the report, Russian military forces entered MManbij, a former Kurdish stronghold, with Syrian government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Kurdish forces reportedly agreed to cede Manbij, however, in exchange for protection, in a deal allowing Syrian regime forces to assume responsibility for security in some border areas, while the Kurds take control of local institutions. The Kurdistan Workers Party — seen as a “terrorist organization” by Turkey — has also formed a pact with Russian officials.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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