Syria’s richest man and first cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused by the US and EU of bankrolling the regime, has exacerbated a spectacular falling out with the Syrian leader. Rami Makhlouf on Sunday released a second Facebook video –two days after an earlier shock appearance – which lifted the lid on his split with Assad and laid bare the workings of the ruling family’s normally inscrutable inner sanctum.
At least 40 civilians were killed when a bomb detonated in the northern Syrian town of Afrin on Tuesday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, blaming the attack on the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. The United States condemned the attack late on Tuesday, which State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said claimed “the lives of dozens of people shopping in the central market as they prepared to break the Ramadan fast.”
The UN-aligned body that oversees chemical weapons use has for the first time blamed the Syrian regime for using sarin gas on the battlefield in a report hailed by rights groups as a landmark moment. The report, released on Wednesday by the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), accuses the Syrian Air Force of twice using sarin to attack the town of Ltamenah in late March 2017.
A ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib has come into effect after Russia and Turkey struck a deal. It comes after the county’s leaders, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held more than six hours of talks in Moscow aimed at ending hostilities in the country’s last rebel stronghold. The agreement involves a truce along the existing battle lines and envisages the establishment of a seven-mile-wide security corridor along the M4 road.
A three-year-old Syrian girl whose father taught her to laugh at the sound of bombs in order not to be afraid has reached safety in Turkey, reports say. Salwa made headlines in a video that went viral last month. It showed her playing a game as warplanes dropped bombs near her home in Idlib. The Turkish government helped her and her parents cross the border a week later, it has emerged.
At least 33 Turkish soldiers have been killed in an airstrike carried out by Syrian government forces, officials in Ankara say. Thursday night’s attack in Idlib marks a serious escalation in the direct conflict between Turkish and Russia-backed Syrian forces. The airstrike came after a Russian delegation spent two days in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials on the situation in Idlib.
U.S. warplanes carried out at least one airstrike in Syria’s northeast Hasakah region after an incident at a checkpoint where U.S. soldiers killed one person, Syrian and Turkish media said on Wednesday. The shooting was followed by an airstrike on a village in rural Qamishli, near the border with Turkey. Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu agency said two airstrikes took place.
Israel says it has hit dozens of targets in Syria belonging to the government and allied Iranian forces. The Israeli military says the “wide-scale strikes” responded to rockets fired by an Iranian unit into Israel. Syria says two civilians died and that Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles over Damascus. Other reports say the death toll was higher.
Donald Trump has announced that the US will lift sanctions on Turkey. The US president, who has come under withering criticism for abruptly withdrawing US troops – and paving the way for a deadly Turkish offensive against the Kurds – said on Wednesday that a “small number” of US troops would remain in Syria’s oilfields.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have agreed on the parameters of a proposed Turkish “safe zone” in Syria, a development that could bring an end to Ankara’s offensive against Kurdish forces over the border by severely curtailing their control of the area. The deal was widely perceived as good news for Ankara and a poor result for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).