The Syrian regime managed a highly strategic advance over the last few days around north Aleppo, cutting off rebels from key supply lines. This advance, which also relieved the regime enclave of Nubbol and Zahraa, puts the rebels in a precarious position across northwest Syria, and may mark the beginning of the end of them as a coherent fighting force.
Aftermath and Political Fallout
This event marked the first time a NATO member has ever shot down a Russian jet. The initial response by Russia was rather muted, likely due to their leadership trying to ascertain the specifics of what happened. Several hours later, Putin responded to the shoot-down, calling it a “stab in the back" committed by "accomplices of terrorists". The Russian Ministry of Defence also characterised the shoot-down as an “unfriendly act”, and promised a series of measures in response.
Later in the evening, the MoD also announced a significant tightening of its air support in Syria. All operations would now reportedly fly with a fighter escort and “dangers” to Russian aircraft would be "destroyed” with support from ship-based anti-aircraft systems.
For its part, Turkey has defended its actions, with President Erdogan claiming that “we did our best to prevent this outcome”. As well, Erdogan claimed that Turkey’s actions were in some part driven by the desire to protect ethnic Turkmen in Syria from Russian bombing saying: “Russia is bombing Bayirbucak Turkmens and claiming they are targeting ISIS.” As well, in a leaked letter to NATO his government referred to repeated breaches of its airspace over the last few years as a further pretext for its actions.
No WWIII, But More Room for Escalation
While there will likely be no further escalation or direct reprisals from either party following this incident, there is now a much greater risk of escalation. With both sides taking aggressive postures to defend their aircraft and strategic interests, mistakes and miscalculations are possible, if not probable. As has become the norm over the previous years, Syria is becoming an even more dangerous flashpoint.
The recent bombing in Ankara on Saturday, October 10th, was one of the deadliest ever terrorist attacks on Turkish soil. At least 97 were killed and scores more were injured, with many in intensive care.
The attack targeted a peace rally of mainly Kurdish HDP supporters and left-wing activists, both in strong opposition to the ruling AK Party. The bombing came a day after the Kurdish PKK militant group announced their intentions for a unilateral cease-fire with Turkey to begin on Sunday, October 12th. This article will plot a timeline of Turkey's response to the attack.
All times are in CEST time zone, Turkey is one hour ahead.
First two tweets about the bombing from @Conflicts were at 10:38 am Oslo time.
After the bombs went off, Turkish police quickly sprang into action and launched tear gas and water cannons against the victims, including those trying to help them. Police were also seen beating people with batons.
There were not any police helping victims, only civilians helping civilians.
Here you can see a longer, very graphic video which shows the aftermath in more detail. Again only civilians aiding civilians, no authorities helping: http://t24.com.tr/video/1010-vuruldun-ey-halkim-unutma,1297
The next Tweet sent out shows how police blocking ambulances from reaching the injured, as well as civilians beating them out of the way in desperation.
Full video of civilians beating police out of the way for ambulances here: https://www.facebook.com/evrenselgzt/videos/10153244883967921/?pnref=story
@Conflicts found a first-hand account of police actively trying to stop people form helping the injured.
Around 1 pm, the PKK decided to announce their unilateral cease-fire with Turkey a day early in light of the bombing.
At 1 pm, the Turkish State News agency stated there was no need for blood donations, even though many were severely injured and in desperate need of blood.
At 1:20 pm, the Turkish Medical Association posted an urgent message on their website asking the Ministry of Defense to pick up their phones and help organize a response.
At 2:12 pm, reports of Twitter being blocked in Turkey come in.
At 2:38 pm, Turkish security officials banned the showing of images of the attack and announced suicide bombers responsible.
At 3:13 pm, the Turkish Interior Minister announced that there has been no security lapse in a press conference.
Many were angered by their response, and many comments were made about them smirking.
At 4:45 pm, PM Davutoglu announced three days of morning -- not only for the Ankara Bombing victims, but for all victims of terrorism.
Another AKP Minister blamed the victims and called them "provocateurs."
At 5:19 pm, the Turkish PM hinted that the attack could have been carried out by ISIS, Kurdish PKK, or far left DHKP/C.
At 11:56 am, the next day, Turkey began a bombing raid against the PKK, who had declared a unilateral cease-fire the day before. Attacks inside Turkey's south-east were reported as well.
Pro-Kurdish HDP co-chair Demirtas strongly condemned the Turkish government and accused them of being complicit in the attack (English Subtitles).
At 3:56 pm, Turkish PM, claims emerge that one of the suspected bombers could be the older brother of the Suruc bomber, who would have been on Turkish security services watchlist.
At 10:52 am, the Turkish PM announced that ISIS is the prime suspect. At this point ISIS had not claimed responsibility for the attack.
At 12:11 pm, the PKK commander announced that they will keep to their cease-fire despite Turkish bombing the day before.
At 5:39 pm, the Ankara Second Criminal Court of Peace, a Turkish provincial criminal court, ordered secrecy of the Ankara Bombing.
At 9:03 pm, the Turkish Deputy PM stated that the PKK cease-fire is not enough.
At 8:44 am, Turkey security forces announced a list of possible suspects - the Suruc bomber's brother being one of them.
Here a man who trampled flowers left by mourners at the Ankara Bombing site.
In a soccer game between Turkey and Iceland, there was a minute of silence for the victims of the Ankara Bombing. Turkish fans booed and chanted Islamist slogans.
More evidence comes in that the Suruc bomber's brother was allegedly involved in the bombing.
At 11:46 am, the Turkish PM again tried to connect the PKK to the Ankara Bombing.
The father of the Ankara Bombing suspect stated that he demanded the police arrest his son (brother of the Suruc bomber).
At 2:28 pm, the Ankara Court prosecutor issued a media blackout on the Ankara Bombing.
To be continued...