A former British army officer, who helped start the “White Helmets”, an emergency response group in Syria, has been found dead near his home in Istanbul, just days after the Russian foreign ministry menaced him, accusing him of being a spy. James le Mesurier was the director of Mayday Rescue charity that trained members of the Syria Civil Defence, nicknamed the White Helmets, playing a major role in its creation in Turkey in 2013.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has agreed with the US vice-president, Mike Pence, to suspend Ankara’s operation on Kurdish-led forces in north-east Syria for the next five days in order to allow Kurdish troops to withdraw, potentially halting the latest bloodshed in Syria’s long war. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters would pull back from Turkey’s proposed 20-mile (32km) deep “safe zone” on its border, Pence told reporters in Ankara on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put US President Donald Trump’s letter “in the bin”, the BBC has been told. In the letter dated 9 October, and sent after US troops were pulled out of Syria, Mr Trump told Mr Erdogan: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” Turkish presidential sources told BBC Turkish that the letter was “thoroughly rejected” by Mr Erdogan.
Donald Trump spoke directly to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Monday to demand an immediate ceasefire in Syria while announcing a series of punishments for Ankara. The US president’s conversation with Erdoğan was revealed by the vice-president, Mike Pence. “The United States of America did not give a green light for Turkey to invade Syria,” Pence insisted to reporters at the White House.
President Donald Trump has threatened to destroy Turkey’s economy if the country goes “off limits” following his surprise decision to pull US forces out of north-eastern Syria. Kurdish forces were key US allies in defeating Islamic State (IS) in Syria. But Turkey regards the Kurdish militias, which dominate the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorists.
The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week. Turkey makes more than 900 parts of the F-35, the supply chain would transition from Turkish to mainly U.S. factories as Turkish suppliers are removed.
Turkey says it received the first major deliveries of a Russian missile-defense system whose purchase has drawn the threat of U.S. sanctions over its potential to undermine NATO’s military capabilities. The U.S. says the Russian air defense system is designed to shoot down NATO aircraft and can collect critical intelligence that could compromise stealth capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter.
Turkey’s main opposition claimed a decisive victory on Sunday in Istanbul’s re-run election, dealing one of the biggest blows to President Tayyip Erdogan during his 16 years in power and promising a new beginning in the country’s largest city. The election was Istanbul’s second in three months after results of an initial March vote were scrapped, setting up the do-over as a test of Turks’ ability to check what many saw as their president’s increasingly authoritarian power.
Turkey ordered a re-run of mayoral elections in Istanbul, overturning a rare defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sending the lira plummeting as concerns grew over what critics say is the latest assault on the rule of law. Erdogan’s party had lost the initial election in Turkey’s largest city and commercial center by a narrow margin to Turkey’s main opposition group, in perhaps his worst ballot-box setback during 16 years in power. European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Turkey’s government to invite international observers to monitor the revote.
US Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey on Wednesday that it could risk its membership in NATO if it goes ahead with plans to buy a Russian air defence system despite widespread international opposition. Pence’s escalating rhetoric came after Turkey insisted on Wednesday that the Russian deal was done, signalling an apparent impasse between the two NATO allies. Turkey’s Vice President Fuad Oktay replied on Twitter saying that “The United States must choose” about whether to remain allied with Ankara. He raised the contentious relationship of US support for Kurdish forces in Syria, accusing Washington of “joining forces with terrorists”.