By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
A timeline of events in eastern Syria during the period the US announced a withdrawal and the time the SDF signed an agreement with Damascus. ALL TIMES are in LOCAL SYRIAN TIME.
US says it is training up to 110,000 SDF fighters
US and Turkey work together on “Security mechanism” for eastern Syria. EUCOM “U.S. and Turkish militaries are executing concrete steps as part of the security mechanism framework to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. The Department of Defense will be transparent as each phase of the security mechanism is implemented.”
White House: “Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone. Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area. The United States Government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer. Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States.”
6:49pm Soner Cagaptay on Ankara’s goals: “What Ankara gains by larger footprint in Syria: 1. Another wedge into YPG area 2. A bigger seat at Geneva & Astana 3. Ability to repatriate Syrian refugees (rising anti-Syrian sentiments inside Turkey) 4. Path for grand bargain with Assad (recognition vs. Assad taking over YPG).”
Putin on a birthday trip to Siberian taiga contemplates US decision, a day after enjoying the outdoors
12:00 Soner Cagaptay: “Events on Oct 7, when Trump gave green light to Turkish incursion into Syria only USG to step in and close that country’s airspace to Turkish planes, have damaged institutional ties between Turkey and US. Even if Trump and Erdogan make up, government agencies now envision divorce.”
3:55 Reuters “Syrian Kurdish official as saying Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria may open talks with Damascus and Moscow in event of full US withdrawal from Turkish border area.”
3:38pm Trump “So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet. They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very…..”
2:52am ISIS fighters carry out attack in Raqqa
3:13am David Ignatius “A bad situation in Northeast Syria is about to get much worse. Sources tell me that US officials have just informed the Syrian Kurds that Turkey is likely to attack on air and ground in next 24 hours. The US will do nothing. Targets are Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn…..I’m also told that Turkish attack appears coordinated with the Russians. Russian-backed forces are mobilizing to invade the Kurdish area from the south — towards Tabqa and other spots. Meanwhile, ISIS is mobilizing sleeper cells in Raqqa and attacks have taken place tonight.”
11:19am NATO chief scheduled to visit Ankara on Friday following United States’ green light to Turkish ground operation in #Syria.
12:29pm US Special Ops of OIR appears to tweet support for SDF
4:19pm Turkey announced “Peace spring” operation
4:45pm “”What we’re seeing is one of the greatest betrayals in military history,” Sky News reporter.
4:59 civilians flee Sere Kaniye
5:14 EU warns Turkey about “safe zone” operation
6:10pm NATO calls for restraint
7:09 pm airstrikes hit Qamishli
8:54pm Shells fall on Kobane
9:36pm 8 civilians killed
9:44 Clarissa Ward video shows smoke from airstrikes.
9:59 PM Masoud Barzani “Dear President Trump, please know that the people of Kurdistan have always pursued their just rights. The Peshmerga have defeated ISIS and are an effective part of the coalition against terror. The blood of the Kurds is far more valuable than money and weapons. Thank you.”
10:59pm Jenan Moussa: “Acc to him, 1000s of Kurds from Kobani are right now fleeing to a US military base near Lafarge cement factory, to seek US soldiers’ protection.”
10:33pm Turkey announced ground offensive.
11:45pm Senator Graham pushed for sanctions on Turkey
11:40pm Kurds in Kobane say they will go to US base to demand protection; Jenan Moussa Source said “If Americans don’t come to protect us, then we will go to them for protection.”
5:47am Pompeo: U.S. didn’t give Turkey a ‘green light’ to invade Syria
7:16am US takes control of some ISIS members, Trump: “In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the 2 ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria, known as the Beetles, out of that country and into a secure location controlled by the U.S. They are the worst of the worst!”
9:13am Russian MFA “Presidents Putin and Erdogan exchanged views on #Syria. In light of plans announced by Turkey to conduct a military operation in north-east Syria, Putin urged the Turkish side to carefully consider situation so as not to damage the overall efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis”
11:15am MSF Iraq prepares to help Syrian patients from eastern Syria.
3:15pm Benjamin Netanyahu “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”
3:26pm US army officers tells Lara Seligman he feels ashamed. “America in my mind is still the shining beacon on the hill, but we are not living up to that right now.”
3;36pm KRG concerned about Rojava crisis.
3:54pm “UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi: There are hundreds of thousands of civilians in northern Syria who are vulnerable. Civilians and civilian infrastructure should not be targeted.”
Kurds protest in Erbil at UN office
4:58pm Senator Graham: “very sad to see great ally – the Kurds – being assaulted by Turkish-Erdogan military using American-designed equipment. Expect Congress to act soon against Turkey’s invasion & aggressively push back. Hope Trump Administration will join this effort.”
5:40pm Jake Hanrahan: Civilian casualties in Qamishli
7:01pm Macron “I strongly condemn the unilateral military offensive in Syria & I call on Turkey to end it as quickly as possible”
7:45pm Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister says Damascus is not ready to hold any talks with the SDF.
8:23 IDF reservists express concern about attacks on Kurds
9:22pm No condemnation from UNSC, appears both US and Russia wont’ condemn.
10:50pm momentum builds for sanctions on Turkey.
11:07pm Trump “We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!”
1:40am Wladimir Van Wilgenburg: Majority in Swedish parliament for sanctions against Turkey.
Turkey says it struck 181 “targets” in Syria on first day,.
3:18am Hassan Hassan “US shared intelligence with Turkey that may have aided attacks on Kurds.”
3:32am French Education minister supports Kurds.
4:30am “Trump’s four-pronged policy on northern Syria: U.S. will (1) not endorse Turkish invasion, (2) not provide Turkey military support, (3) not oppose Turks militarily, (4) insist on humanitarian limits | Senior State Department Officials On Situation in Syria”
4:48am Former US Amb. Ford “FORD: I think, in the long term, only reassertion of Syrian government control over eastern Syria provides a durable stability, a durable security. And nobody dislikes the Syrian government more than me.”
4;52am Mike McKinley, aid to Pompeo, resigns.
5:01am Nicholas Heras: “well informed source covering the #UnitedNations tells me #Russia made it clear that it won’t sign off on anything about #Turkey‘s campaign in N/E #Syria from the UNSC beyond a simple vague press statement read at the UN. Any resolution against Turkey would be killed by Russia.”
12:29pm Wilgenburg: ” Joint US-SDF patrols near Sharkrak region, of Ein Issa, along with US helicopters. It’s approx. 45 km south of Tal Abiad city. First time since the beginning of the Turkish invasion against northeast Syria.”
3:24pm Yusuf Erim: “A complete handover of NE Syria to the Syrian opposition would serve as a game changer ahead of Constitutional Committee negotiations. If America is serious about supporting a political solution… this is the path to follow.”
3:30pm Elizabeth Tsurkov list of participating units “Hassakeh Shield is part of Ahrar al-Sharqiya. Division 20 is participating too. Al-Jabha al-Shamiya is not currently participating. Possibly Sultan Sliman Shah (3amshat) & Liwaa’ Samarkand participating too. This is based on my sources inside some of these factions. Jaysh al-Sharqiya and Hamzat are participating.”
Omer Ozkizilcik on components of Syrian National Army: “Jabhat Shamiyah was deployed to the border on the first day. They are together with Firka Hamza and Ahrar al Sharqiyyah in the same front.”
Nicholas Heras: “Ahrar al-Sharqiya (perhaps the number one ground force among Turkish-backed militias) Faylaq al-Sham Sultan Murad Hasakah Shield Jabhat Shamiyah”
4:06pm US OIR Special Ops wars “”Daesh is trying to regenerate,” said Maj. Gen. Hill
9:00pm US troops in Kobane come under fire from Turkish artillery
8:46pm Rukimini Callimachi “A Kurdish official with the SDF has shared a video with reporters which he says shows a small group of ISIS prisoners escaping from the Navkur prison in Qamishlo. I’m not on the ground so this needs further confirmation, but if true this is not good news.”
10:53pm More than 70,000 displaced, 450,000 civilians living within 5 km of the border,
11:13 pm Josie Ensor: “Coalition official tells me after Turkish bombing near US base Mashtenour hill: “They know we are there, we told them our position. There’s no other target in the area. They’re trying to drive us out. If Turkey can get us to leave so they can seige Kobane, it’s all over.”
2:20am Kurdish woman asks US soldiers for protection in Kobane
2:35am Kurdish imam Mullah Masoud speaks out against operation.
5:21pm Yazidi villages evacuated in Syria.
6:38pm “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” Gen. Mazloum told the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, William Roebuck Thursday, according to an internal US government readout that has been obtained by CNN. “I need to know if you are capable of protecting my people, of stopping these bombs falling on us or not. I need to know, because if you’re not, I need to make a deal with Russia and the regime now and invite their planes to protect this region…”I’ve been holding myself for two days from going to the press and saying that America abandoned us and that I would like you to get out of our areas now so that I can invite Russian and regime planes to take over this airspace….Either you stop this bombing on our people now or move aside so we can let in the Russians.”
7:10pm Roebuck responded “not to take any immediate decisions” and that he’d consult with the State Department
7;38pm More people post video of Turkish-backed forces executing prisoners.
7:40pm Brutal video shows Turkish-backed extremists executing prisoners.
8:19 pm Videos of Ahrar ash-Sharqiya abusing prisoners.
9:02 pm atrocities begin to be noticed in US media.
10:21pm France suspends arms sales to Turkey
9:55pm Turkish-backed Syrian Arab groups capture and set up checkpoint on M4 highway.
11:00pm Israel concerned about Trump’s decision.
11:11 Turkish media claims “successful operation” and “neutralizing” of female politician. Brett McGurk: “an unarmed 35-year old woman working to unite Arabs, Christians, and Kurds in NE Syria. Ms. Hevrin Khalef was reportedly dragged from a vehicle and shot to death. That’s a war crime.”
More than 130,000 people displaced by fighting
00:32 video of Kurdish mother holding baby shocks social media
6:06am ““We condemn in the strongest of terms any mistreatment and extrajudicial execution of civilians or prisoners, and are looking further into these circumstances,” anonymous State Dept. official says.
10:47 Turkey has detained people for social media posts opposing the war.
1:16pm Nick Paton Walsh: “official tells me Turkish backed Syrian rebels have set up checkpoints on road between Ain Issa and Kobani. We heard gunfire and saw civilians flee. Road closed. Turkish jet buzzed us and US convoy leaving the town.”
1:27 more evidence of war crimes, extremist slogans among Syrian rebels sent as part of “National Army” attack Kurdish forces
1:40pm Ain Issa: 785 ISIS terrorists escaped, photo shows some of them fleeing
1:40pm Video surfaces showing the body of the murdered Kurdish female politician Hevin Khalaf, with Turkish-backed extremists chanting in celebration
2:02pm Rukmini Callimachi “An SDF commander has confirmed to me that the Ain Issa camp has fallen and all the detainees (a population of thousands that includes ISIS supporters, ISIS relatives and civilians) have fled. ‘An unbelievable mess,’ the commander said.”
France is “concerned” about escaped ISIS members.
3:19pm Syria time: Sec of Defense Esper says the President has ordered “a deliberate withdrawal” from Northern Syria. “As safely and quickly as possible.”
3:57pm Trump: “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change. Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?”
4:04pm US vehicles leave Kobane as US says it will withdraw around 1,000 soldiers.
4:09pm Trump “Do you remember two years ago when Iraq was going to fight the Kurds in a different part of Syria. Many people wanted us to fight with the Kurds against Iraq, who we just fought for. I said no, and the Kurds left the fight, twice. Now the same thing is happening with Turkey…The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!”
4:17pm Trump “many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey. Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!”
4:24 pm Richard Engel: “US official – the situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly in Syria. Extremist Turkish proxies have advanced. US Forces at risk of being isolated. increased risk of confrontation between Turkish proxies and US Forces unless Turkey halts their advance immediately.”
5:08pm Merkel calls for immediate end to Turkey’s operation
5:16 London protest against Turkish operations in Rojava
5:44 US Senator Graham “Good decision by President to work with Congress to impose crippling sanctions against Turkeys outrageous aggression/war crimes in Syria.”
6:05pm North press reports that regime will enter SDF areas.
6:12 Reports Turkish airstrike targets civilian convoy on way to Ras al Ayn
6:25 Al-Mayadeen: Regime will enter Manbij and Kobani in next two days
6:52 Turkey compiles list of critical Twitter voices to arrest and have accounts shut down.
7:36pm Chris Scurfield “What a waste of time 5 years thousands of lives, including my son, for what?”
7:28pm statement by US SecDef Esper
7:53 Video emerges of the aftermath of the ambush and murder of Hevin Khalaf.
8:00pm Petraeus: “I am deeply concerned that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeast Syria will lead to a resurgence of ISIS attacks in Syria (and beyond), to Iranian and Russian exploitation of our withdrawal, to substantial casualties by the partners we supported in the defeat of ISIS in Syria, to a perception of the U.S. as an unreliable partner, and to the possibility of considerable ethnic displacement.” General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Retired), former Commander of Coalition Forces during the Surge in Iraq, former Commander of U.S. Central Command, and former Director of the CIA
8:31pm map shows apparent area regime may go into
8;36pm Ragip Soylu “No one expected YPG would collapse in four days.”
9:12pm Wilgenburg: “Ismet Sheikh: Yet the meetings by the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League did not result in a solution. We ourselves should heal our pain. When we urged all Kurdish [circles] should rely on our unity, no one listened. Now we have reached an agreement”
9;20pm Anadolu: Turkey “neutralized” 525 “terrorists” in operation
9:32 pm Amberin Zaman: “Well-informed sources with close knowledge of the administration’s policymaking told Al-Monitor the writing has been on the wall for some time. Many said the Kurds had been misled by Trump’s Syria team led by ambassador James Jeffrey.”
10:00pm photos from Hevin Khalaf’s funeral. The Future party leader was murdered, the US had once worked with her but now barely acknowledges her existence.
10:03pm Martin Chulov: “The sudden change in Qamishli tonight was palpable: Internet was cut, then bustling streets became empty & eerie. This was the moment regional power changed hands. Exit US, enter Russia and Turkey.”
10:07 pm Mutlu Civiroglu: “Self Administration of NE Syria announces an agreement with Syrian Government to protect Syrian borders with SDF against Turkey. It will also help liberating all areas from Turkey including Afrin”
10:19 Kurdish forces call for Syrian army to take control of Turkish border.
10:27 Turkey shells Manbij
10:29 people in Raqqa nervous of regime’s return.
10:47 pm Josie Ensor: SDF’s Mazloum writing hours before announcement: “We know we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow & Assad if we go down that road. But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life”
10:50 video of Turkish-backed Jaysh al-Sharqiya Syrians stealing watch from dead SDF members.
10:52 Turkey still demands 32 km “safe zone”
10:53pm Mohammed Salih “Local sources in NE Syria confirm broad agreement between SDF & Russia/Assad for deployment of Russia-backed forces in SDF region in stages. 1st stage Minbaj and Kobani, then other areas. Kurds now effectively see US military as collaborators with enemy.”
11:00pm Celebratory gunfire in as Syrian troops roll into the streets of Qamishli reported.
11:13 SDF still wonders if US is an ally: Ryan Browne quoting SDF “The reason we allied ourselves w/ the United States is our core belief in democracy. We are disappointed & frustrated by the current crisis. Our people are under attack & their safety is our paramount concern….Two questions remain: How can we best protect our people? And is the United States still our ally?”
11:17 Yasin Aktay: Conflict could arise with Syrian army.
11:19pm Turkey says US has withdrawn from Kobani; US forces evacuated their base in Kobani, Turkish security sources tell Anadolu.
11:26 Arab minister condemn Turkish invasion
11:26pm Rumors of Assad forces entering areas near Hasakah.
11:28pm Turkish presidential advisor warns of potential clash between Syrian army, Turkish forces if the Syrian forces enter northeast Syria, a Turkish presidential advisor told Sputnik Arabic.
11:33pm us forces block entrance to Manbij of Syrian forces
11:35: Turkey votes to continue Syrian offensive along border.
00:02 Celebrations in Qamishli and Hasakah that regime will confront Turkish aggression
00:38am Looting in villages along Syrian border with Turkey
2:20am Gen. John Allen Marine general, retired, criticized Trump over the ongoing Turkish military offensive in northern Syria, saying, “There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies.”
9:04a Many journalists leave eastern Syria to northern Iraq
9:25am Sky News Arabia: Russia imposed no fly zone in parts of northern Syria.
9:36am SAA arrives Tel Tamir
10:00am US Congress moves forward with sanctions on Turkey
10:11am KRG parliament will meet tomorrow to discuss Rojava
10:11 am Al-Manar “Syrian army is approaching Turkish border”
10:12 airstrikes by Turkey in Ras al-Ayn
1:12pm Details of alleged agreement made public: “The abolishment of the #SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), with all the current Kurdish forces and military groups joining the 5th Corps (Assault Legion) under Russian control…A solid guarantee of full Kurdish rights in the new Syrian constitution with autonomy which will be agreed upon by Kurdish leadership & Syrian state…Manbij and Kobani to be entered quickly…one month process.”