Afghanistan – An attack at the campus of the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul has ended in the early hours of the 25 Aug 16 with 12 people, including seven students, dead, a police spokesman has said. Fraidoon Obaidi, the chief of the Kabul police Criminal Investigation Department said that security forces shot dead two men suspected of carrying out the attack, which began late on the 24 Aug 16 with a large explosion followed by gunfire. Obaidi said that another 44 people, including 35 students, were injured while about 700 to 750 students were evacuated from the university. Sporadic gunfire could be heard through the night and, before dawn, police said the operation had concluded. "The fight is over and at least two attackers have been killed," a police official at the scene said. "Right now a clearance operation is ongoing by a criminal technique team." No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Taliban step up their summer fighting season against the Western-backed Kabul government. The attack came after two professors at the university - an American and Australian - were kidnapped in the heart of the capital earlier this month, the latest in a series of abductions of foreigners in the conflict-torn country.
Australia – A French man screaming 'Allahu Akbar' went on a stabbing rampage at a backpackers hostel in north Queensland, killing a 21-year-old British waitress and leaving a British man, 31, fighting for his life in hospital it was reported on the 24 Aug 16. The British woman has been identified as Mia Ayliffe-Chung who was remembered by friends as an 'infectiously happy young girl'. Ms Ayliffe-Chung had been working as a waitress at The Bedroom nightclub in Surfers Paradise for six months. A third man, an Australian named Grant 'Grunta' Scholz, received non-life threatening injuries when he tried to intervene during the attack on Ms Ayliffe-Chung and was released from hospital soon after the attack on the night of the 23 Aug 16. Her alleged attacker, 29, also stabbed a dog to death during the frenzy that was witnessed by a roomful of more than 30 people at Shelley's Backpackers on Ninth Street in Home Hill, about 1,300km north of the Queensland capital of Brisbane. Queensland State Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Golleschewski told a news conference on the 24 Aug 16 the attacker twice screamed the Islamic praise for God during the frenzy. 'Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed of being as of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender,' Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said. 'It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase "Allahu Akbar" during the attack and when arrested by police. 'Whilst this information will be factored into the information we are not ruling out any motivations at this early stage, whether they be political or criminal. 'We've had three people stabbed and one dead, deceased [and] one critically injured. It's a shocking attack by any standards.' Police were investigating if the stabbing was terror-related as the alleged attacker, who was travelling with tourists from France and Luxembourg, was being assessed for mental health issues and drug use. He was taken to Townsville Hospital and is being questioned by police after more than 30 people witnessed the knife attack. No charges have been laid yet. Australian Federal Police, who have a responsibility for investigating terror attacks, are also involved in the homicide investigation. 'At this stage, there is no indications to indicate other than that the fact he was acting alone,' AFP Commander Sharon Cowden said. 'He was in lawfully in Australia and at this stage he was not known to authorities.' Police say the man did not appear to have any ties to Islamic State.
Follow-on Report: A man has been charged with the murder of British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung at a hostel in Australia it was reported on the 25 Aug 16. Queensland Police Service earlier named the suspected murderer as 29-year-old Frenchman Smail Ayad. He is also charged with two counts of attempted murder, 12 counts of serious assault and one count of serious animal cruelty. Mr Ayad was due to appear before Townsville Magistrates Court on the 26 Aug 16 by video-link. Police have claimed that as Mr Ayad was being transferred from hospital to the station on Wednesday night he became violent towards officers and was Tasered and doused with pepper spray in order to subdue him. 361 COMMENT: In one report it claimed that the suspect was not radicalised but no mention of his cry to God whilst murdering the victim and in another report it claimed that the perpetrator may have been infatuated with the victim. COMMENT ENDS
India/Kashmir – Suspected militants killed two soldiers and one police officer in an ambush on a convoy overnight in Kashmir, an official in the troubled region said on the 17 Aug 16. An unknown number of gunmen opened fire on the two army vehicles and a police car travelling through Baramulla district, 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the region’s main city of Srinagar. “Two soldiers and one police officer were killed and three others -- two soldiers and another police officer were injured,” district police superintendent Imtiaz Hussain said. Security forces launched a major search for the militants who fled the scene, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. Army convoys have been travelling more frequently at night in recent weeks through the region to avoid encountering protesting residents. Kashmir has been under curfew since protests erupted over the death last month of a popular young rebel leader, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight with security forces. Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan along a UN-monitored line of control, but both claim it in full and have fought two wars over its control.
Indonesia/Da’esh – An ISIS suicide bomber today attacked a Catholic priest with an axe as he tried to blow up hundreds of worshippers at a church during Sunday Mass it was reported on the 28 Aug 16. Priest Albert Pandiangan, 60, was holding the holy ceremony at the altar when the 18-year-old fanatic rushed towards the altar with a backpack bomb and tried to blow himself up. But the bomb burned without setting off the explosives, so the jihadi pulled an axe from his bag and attacked the priest at St Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra in Indonesia. The congregation then stepped in and managed to wrestle the axe from his grasp, detaining him until the police arrived. As officers marched the suspect to the car, pictures show his white trousers soaked in blood. Police found his ID card and a picture of the ISIS flag. The young fanatic also told police that he was not working alone. He was later pictured at the police station with an officer holding his bloody head off the ground, where he was lying handcuffed. 'Somebody tried to kill the priest by pretending to attend the church service and at that time tried to explode something, like a firecracker, but the firecracker didn't explode, it only fumed,' chief detective Nur Fallah said. The priest suffered slight injuries and has been taken to hospital near where it happened in the city of Medan on the western island of Sumatra. A picture of the attacker's ID card circulating online said he was Muslim. In recent years there have been a number of attacks on religious minorities and others in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. A suicide attack in the Indonesian capital in January killed four attackers and four civilians, including a Westerner, and injured 19. In July a suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State group blew himself up outside a police station in Central Java. Churchgoers on Sunday quickly caught the attacker and called the police. An eyewitness, Markus Harianto Manullan, said the assailant wore a jacket and carried a bag. 'He sat in the same row as I did... I saw him fiddling with something in his jacket, and then I heard a small explosion and he immediately ran to the podium,' Manullan said. Police are still investigating the man's motive.
Kyrgyzstan/China – A minivan driven by a suicide bomber exploded after ramming into a gate at the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, authorities said on the 30 Aug 16. Local medics said the driver was killed while two embassy staff and a woman were injured in the blast. "As a result of the explosion, only the suicide bomber terrorist died. Security guards were injured," Kyrgyzstan's Deputy Prime Minister Jenish Razakov said. "This is reported as the first suicide bombing in the country," he said. "The minivan exploded before getting anywhere near the main part of the embassy. There is a lot of concern about the attack. The deputy prime minister visited the scene but hasn't pointed his fingers in any direction as to who carried out the attack." Employees from the Chinese and nearby American embassy were evacuated, the Kyrgyz emergency service said. China's foreign ministry has condemned the attack, calling it an "extreme and violent attack" and urging authorities to "get to the bottom of the incident". 361 COMMENT: Although there has been no claim for the terrorist incident people must be looking towards the Uighur’s/Uyghur’s in the west of China. The main question is, are the Uighur’s/Uyghur’s now looking to attack Chinese targets outside of the country where retribution will be less sever? If this is the case then they must be locating terrorist cells in various countries ready to strike again. COMMENT ENDS
Philippines/Abu-Sayyaf Group – Twelve soldiers were killed in clashes with the Abu Sayyaf armed group on a remote southern island in the Philippines, as a government offensive against the fighters entered a fifth day it was reported on the 29 Aug 16. Philippines army Major Filemon Tan said that five soldiers were also injured in the firefight that lasted more than an hour in the jungles of Patikul town on Jolo Island. "The fighting was really intense, we lost 12 men," Tan said. "You can really expect heavy casualty from both sides due to [the] volume of fire," he continued, adding that it was unclear how many fighters from the armed group were killed but he estimated more than 30. Already, more than 20 Abu Sayyaf fighters have been killed since the 25 Aug 16 when the military launched an air-and-ground offensive in Patikul, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, after newly-elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who started his six-year term on the 30 Jun 16 ordered troops to "destroy" the group. Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnapping for ransom and beheading many of their captives, has fought on through successive Philippine governments. The group has entrenched its network with vast sums of ransom money in what has become one of Asia's most lucrative kidnapping rackets. The group, whose name translates as "Bearer of the Sword", has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and was previously allied with al-Qaeda. In Jun 16, Abu Sayyaf claimed they had beheaded Robert Hall, the second Canadian man who had been held captive by the group since Sep 15. Another Canadian hostage was beheaded in April 16 after a ransom was not paid. Duterte's new defence minister recently said the elimination of Abu Sayyaf was his top security priority. Eight Indonesians, eight Filipinos, five Malaysians, a Dutch and a Norwegian national are still being held by the group. It was not known if the hostages were in Patikul jungle when the military assault began on the 25 Aug 16.
Russia – Heavily-armed Russian Special Forces on the 17 Aug 16 raided an apartment building in Saint Petersburg in an operation targeting North Caucasus militants, killing four suspects. The FSB security service said in a statement quoted by Russian agencies that the raid was part of an operation to detain "wanted persons accused of participating in illegal armed groups in the North Caucasus". "Criminals were destroyed by return fire when they attempted to resist," the FSB said. Russia's Investigative Committee added that four suspects — all of them in the same apartment — were killed in the raid and their bodies were now being identified. No ordinary civilians or law enforcement officials were injured, it said. Three of the men killed were provisionally named by the National Anti-Terrorism Committee to Russian agencies as Zalim Shebzukhov, Astemir Sheriev and Vyacheslav Nyrov. It said that these three were leaders of the "terrorist underground active in Kabardino-Balkharia" in the north Caucasus. TV footage showed heavily-armed men in balaclavas cordoning off the multi-storey apartment block on the outskirts of the north-western city famed for its tsarist-era palaces. "I heard several explosions and then a series of what sounded like gunshots," a man who said he was a resident of a neighbouring apartment building told Rossiya 24 television. Special operations against suspected Islamists are frequent in Russia's North Caucasus region but have been rare in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in recent years. Russia has battled a simmering insurgency in the Caucasus ever since fighting two brutal separatist conflicts with Chechnya. Many Islamists have left for Syria and there has been little violence linked to the North Caucasus spilling out of the region in recent years, with the last such attacks in the southern city of Volgograd in 2013.
Thailand – One person has been killed and 30 others injured after two bombs exploded in a busy nightlife district in Thailand's troubled southern province of Pattani it was reported on the 24 Aug 16. The first bomb targeted a pub and karaoke bar late on the 23 Aug 16 causing no casualties, before a second blast struck the same area 20 minutes later in an apparent " double - tap attack", the Bangkok Post newspaper said. The second attack killed a woman and injured those who were responding to the first blast. "Pattani is a frequent target by southern insurgents, but the use of a car bomb is less frequent than IED'S (Improvised explosive devices) or gun attacks." Most embassies warn nationals against all travel to Pattani - an area bordering Malaysia - that Thailand annexed over a century ago. Earlier this month a series of bombings across central and southern Thailand left four people dead and more than 30 injured. Speaking to reporters after the Pattani hotel blast, Thailand's deputy military leader Prawit Wongsuwan dismissed any link between the August 11-12 bombings and the southern insurgency. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but some security experts have blamed southern secessionist groups. 361 COMMENT: Whoever the group is that is conducting these attacks they do not want publicity nor are they making statements claiming the attacks. The interesting point of these latest ones are that they are not long after the last attacks (11/12 Aug 16) but have given thought and used secondary devices (called ‘double-tap’ in the report) which would indicate a stepping up of operations. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey – Turkey could walk away from its promise to stem the flow of illegal migrants to Europe if the European Union fails to grant Turks visa-free travel to the bloc in October, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a German newspaper on the 16 Aug 16. His comments in Bild's Monday (15 Aug 16) edition coincide with rising tensions between Ankara and the West that have been exacerbated by the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. Turkey is incensed by what it sees as an insensitive response from Western allies to the failed putsch. Long wary of Turkey's ambitions to join the EU, Europe has been alarmed by the crackdown since the coup, fearing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using purges to quash dissent. The unease has relations between Turkey and Austria and Sweden. Ankara has summoned diplomats from both countries to protest what it says are false reports about changes to its child abuse laws. Asked whether hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey would head to Europe if the EU did not grant Turks visa freedom from October, Cavusoglu told Bild: "I don't want to talk about the worst case scenario — talks with the EU are continuing but it's clear that we either apply all treaties at the same time or we put them all aside." Visa-free access to the EU — the main reward for Ankara's collaboration in choking off an influx of migrants into Europe — has been subject to delays due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation, as well as the post-coup crackdown. Brussels wants Turkey to soften the anti-terrorism law. Ankara says it cannot do so, given multiple security threats which include Da’esh militants in neighbouring Syria and Kurdish militants in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast. European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said he does not see the EU granting Turks visa-free travel this year due to Ankara's crackdown, which has included the round-up of more than 35,000 over alleged involvement in the coup. Cavusoglu said the migration deal with the EU stipulated that all Turks would get visa freedom in October, adding: "It can't be that we implement everything that is good for the EU but that Turkey gets nothing in return." A spokesman for the European Commission declined to comment on the interview directly but said the EU continued to work together with Turkey in all areas of cooperation. Since the coup, more than 17,000 people have been placed under formal arrest, and tens of thousands more suspended from their jobs. Turkish authorities blame the failed putsch on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers. Gulen denies involvement and has condemned the coup attempt. Cavusoglu told reporters that the Ankara government had summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest at comments from Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, a day after it hauled in Austria's charge d'affaires. "[The] Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse," Wallstrom wrote on her official Twitter account. Cavusoglu dismissed her comments as "the result of racism and anti-Islam sentiment in Europe... It is a scandal for a foreign minister to tweet something like this based on false rumours. It is worrying that this campaign of lies, which started in Austria, has spread to Sweden". Her comments were in reference to a decision by Turkey's constitutional court last month to remove a provision in the penal code which identifies all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as "sexual abuse". A Turkish official said the claim that sexual abuse of children under 15 would now go unpunished was "completely baseless" and that new legislation would go into effect before the court ruling does to plug any legal loopholes. On the 14 Aug 16 Turkey summoned Austria's charge d'affaires to protest at a headline on an electronic news ticker at the airport in Vienna that allegedly read, "Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15." Austrian officials played down the matter as one of freedom of the press. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said the publication of such "slandering" news reports were encouraged by recent comments from Austrian politicians. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has said the EU should end accession talks with Turkey, prompting Cavusoglu to refer to Austria as the "capital of radical racism". On the 14 Aug 16 Kern said that if the EU broke off accession talks with Turkey, this should not impact the migrant deal. "If this deal depends on the illusion of accession talks, then we have a big problem," Kern told Austrian said.
Turkey/Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – Turkish officials say at least six people have been killed and scores injured when two car bombs exploded in the eastern part of the country it was reported on the 18 Aug 16. A large explosion rocked an area near a police station in the eastern Turkish town of Elazig and three police officers were killed, Turkish media reported, hours after a car bomb killed three people elsewhere in the region. Based on images, this was a powerful explosion. Much of the building is destroyed. Only hours earlier, three people, including a child, were killed and more than 70 injured in a car bomb attack in Turkey's eastern city of Van carried out by members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters, Turkish officials said. The suspect, identified only as MO by the Turkish media, was caught in an air operation that was launched after the attack, according to authorities. He had been injured and was taken to the main police headquarters in Van city for questioning. MO was prevented from getting close to the police station because of barricades and parked an explosives-laden vehicle approximately 40 metres away from the facility, according to national daily Hurriyet. The suspect left his vehicle and activated the bomb from a safe distance using a remote control, the newspaper said. The Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily attacks from the PKK since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed in 2015.
Turkey/Da’esh – At least 50 people were killed and 94 more injured when an explosion at a wedding ceremony in Turkey's south-eastern province of Gaziantep, near the Syria border. The blast, which occurred at around 1100 hrs local time on the 21 Aug 16 in the Akdere neighbourhood of Sahin Bey district, was a "terror attack", according to Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Gaziantep. Mehmet Simsek, Turkey's deputy prime minister, told NTV that the explosion appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "Da’esh is the likely perpetrator of the attack. Separately, Samil Tayyar, a member of parliament from the governing Justice and Development Party, pointed the finger at ISIL in remarks on Twitter. A major city lying just 60km north of the Syrian border, Gaziantep has become a hub for Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country. But as well as refugees and opposition activists, there have long been fears it is home to a significant presence of ISIL sympathisers. Sahin Bey district is said to have a large number of Kurdish residents and reports indicate the wedding too had a strong Kurdish presence, fuelling speculation of ISIL involvement. The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said its members had been present at the wedding, which was also attended by many women and children.
Turkey/PKK – At least 11 police officers were killed and 70 injured when suspected Kurdish militants attacked a police checkpoint in south-east Turkey with an explosives-laden truck. Turkey on the 26 Aug 16 vowed to retaliate. 'We will give those vile (attackers) the answer they deserve,' Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a news conference in Istanbul. 'No terrorist organisation can hold Turkey captive.' The attack struck the checkpoint some 50 yards from a main police station near the town of Cizre, in the mainly Kurdish Sirnak province which borders Syria, the Anadolu Agency reported. The three-storey police station was destroyed in the powerful explosion. State-run Anadolu Agency blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been involved in almost daily clashes in the region since last July, when a ceasefire between it and the government collapsed.
Turkey/Kurds – Turkey's decision to send troops into Syria is a last-ditch bid to prevent the realisation of its worst nightmare: the creation of a "Syrian Kurdistan", analysts say. On the 25 Aug 16 Ankara launched operation "Euphrates Shield", dispatching tanks and Special Forces to fight alongside pro-Turkish Syrian rebels to capture the town of Jarabulus from the Da’esh terror group. The extremist group abandoned the border town almost immediately, but experts said Ankara's operation was directed less at Da’esh and more at preventing further advances by Syrian Kurdish forces that control large swathes of the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it deems a "terrorist" organisation, and it has long warned against the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria. "The Kurdish issue now seems to be topping [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's list of priorities in Syria," wrote Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The prospect of an oil-funded and US-backed PKK statelet on its southern border is a nightmare for Ankara,” he wrote. Kurds, who make up about 15 per cent of Syria’s population, have largely avoided fighting alongside either the government or opposition since the country’s conflict began in Mar 11. Instead, they have focused on building semi-autonomous institutions, in March declaring a “federal region” composed of three “cantons” in north and northeast Syria. Backed by the US-led coalition against Da’esh, the YPG has battled the jihadist group to secure territory equal to 18 percent of Syria, home to some two million people, about 60 per cent of them Kurdish. But two of its “cantons” remain separated from the third by territory under Da’esh control, and Turkey has warned it would not allow advances by the YPG to create a single contiguous entity. That ultimatum was put to the test by the 23 Jun 16 capture of Manbij by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of Arab fighters and the YPG. After the success, the Kurds announced their plan to advance on the Da’esh-held town of Al Bab in a bid to link the cantons of Kobane and Afrin. “What is obvious that SDF’s liberating Manbij bothered Turkey very much and since then they were in some efforts to counter that move,” said Kurdish affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu. “If IS [Da’esh] was really the target, Turkey should have done an operation a long time ago because IS has been controlling the city for a long time,” said. Turkey’s intervention serves more than one purpose, said Aaron Stein of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East. “The Jarabulus plan achieves two interrelated goals: it pushes Da’esh from your border, while denying Kurds the freedom to take Jarabulus and link up with Afrin,” said Stein. Civiroglu said he did not expect Turkey’s intervention to halt Kurdish ambitions, and YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said Ankara had no right to intervene. “The YPG are Syrians and the Turks cannot impose restrictions on the movement of Syrians on their land,” said Xelil. Turkey has been a staunch backer of the Syrian opposition since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in 2011. But Civiroglu said Ankara could count on relative ambivalence from Damascus now because Assad’s government views “Kurds as threat, and Kurdish gains... have bothered them deeply.” “They know that except for a ‘symbolic condemnation’ there will be no reaction from Assad,” he added. Fabrice Balanche, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute think tank, said Turkey would have to go further if it wanted to prevent the Kurds from creating contiguous territory. “The Kurds can still connect Afrin to Manbij by a small corridor if they take the town of Al Bab from Da’esh,” he said. “The capture of Jarabulus will not prevent the connection of the cantons unless Turkey sends its tanks further south to Al Bab,” he said. But he added that Assad ally Russia, which has recently patched up relations with Turkey, was unlikely to bless such an operation. Stein said Turkey’s force inside Syria remained small “so it appears, for now, there are no plans to take more territory”. Washington has also warned the Kurds against pushing west. “The YPG could push for Al Bab, but it is unclear if they would do so without US air support,” Stein said. 361 COMMENT: Although Turkey has vowed to clear Da’esh from its borders it is also using this latest intervention to attack what it sees is a greater threat, that of the PKK as other analysts have pointed out. When the country first started its airstrikes against Da’esh Turkey also attacked PKK areas. So although it has vowed to stop Da’esh and other terrorist organisations let’s not be fooled into thinking that Da’esh is seen as the biggest threat to Turkey. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey – Suspected Kurdish militants fired rockets at the airport in Turkey's main south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on the 27 Aug 16 sending passengers and staff scrambling for shelter but there were no immediate reports of casualties. Four rockets were fired at a police checkpoint outside the VIP lounge, and passengers and staff were taken inside the terminal building for safety a private news agency said. The attack happened not long before midnight (2100 GMT) on Saturday. Broadcaster NTV said the rockets landed on wasteland nearby. There were no casualties and no disruption to flights, Diyarbakir governor Huseyin Aksoy told the news channel. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Diyarbakir is the main city in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. The attack comes days after Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria aimed at driving back ISIS and preventing territorial gains by Kurdish fighters. Diyarbakir airport largely handles domestic flights and is served by carriers including Turkish Airlines.
Turkey/Kurds – The US defence secretary has called on Turkey and Kurdish forces in northern Syria to stay focused on fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and not to target each other it was reported on the 30 Aug 16. Monday's statement by Ash Carter came after Turkish forces launched a two-pronged operation last week against ISIL and Kurdish forces from the People's Protection Units (YPG) inside Syria. "We have called upon Turkey ... to stay focused on the fight against ISIL and not to engage Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), and we have had a number of contacts over the last several days," Carter said. "We have called on both sides to not fight with one another, to continue to focus the fight on ISIL ... That is the basis of our cooperation with both of them - specifically not to engage." The SDF is a group of fighters formed to fight against ISIL and is led by the YPG. Turkey considers Syria's YPG - which maintains close ties to PKK fighters battling Turkish forces in the country's southeast - a "terrorist" group. It said on the 29 Aug 16 it would continue to target the YPG if it failed to retreat east of the Euphrates River. Carter said chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on the 28 Aug 16 over the issue. The US-led coalition has been backing the YPG with training and equipment to fight ISIL, while at the same time the US has also supported Syrian opposition groups fighting with the Turks in northern Syria. On the 29 Aug 16 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels said they were advancing towards Manbij in northern Syria, a city captured earlier this month by Kurdish forces. Turkey said it killed 25 Kurdish "terrorists" in strikes on YPG positions on the 28 Aug 16 - meaning the two US-backed partner forces were fighting each other. Peter Cook, Pentagon press secretary, condemned the fighting the south of the Syrian town of Jarablus, where Turkish armed troops had fought with the SDF. "We want to make clear that we find these clashes unacceptable and they are a source of deep concern," Cook said on the 29 Aug 16 seconding Carter's call. "This is an already crowded battle space. Accordingly, we are calling on all armed actors to stand down immediately and take appropriate measures to de-conflict." In his remarks, Carter said: "The YPG elements of [the SDF] will withdraw, and is withdrawing, east of the Euphrates. "That will naturally separate them from Turkish forces that are heading down in the Jarablus area." Turkish forces backed by allied Syrian rebels seized the town of Jarablus from ISIL last week, but also clashed with local fighters affiliated with the SDF. In an interview published on the 29 Aug 16 in Turkish daily Hurriyet, Hulusi Akar, Turkish chief of staff, was quoted as saying that Kurdish forces around Jarablus have been attacking Turkish soldiers there. "They have to withdraw to the east of Jarablus, Otherwise, we will do what is necessary," he told Hurriyet. 361 COMMENT: This issue has been pointed out by 361 Security for some time. It will be interesting to see how Turkey will now react and how the Kurdish forces will move forward without Turkey reacting. The situation is on sticky ground at the moment as Turkey has recently joined the fight in earnest but also sees this as a legitimate reason to attack the Kurds. At the moment the only winners will be Da’esh if Turkey fails to leave Kurdish forces alone. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey/Kurds – US officials said Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish forces had agreed to a temporary pause in fighting in northern Syria, as Turkey insisted it planned to continue military operations in the region until all threats to its security were removed. "In the last several hours, we have received assurance that all parties involved are going to stop shooting at each other and focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIL] threat," Colonel John Thomas, spokesman for the US Central Command, said on the 30 Aug 16. "It's a loose agreement for at least the next couple of days and we are hoping that will solidify," he said. Thomas said the Turkish and Syrian Democratic Forces, made up largely of Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG), had opened communications with the US and between each other "with the goal of limiting hostilities". Thomas called the reported agreement between the two groups "encouraging". The White House also lauded the apparent halt in fighting between anti-ISIL forces in Syria. "The United States welcomes the overnight calm between the Turkish military and other counter-ISIL forces in Syria," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "It continues to encourage these moves as a way to prevent further hostilities and loss of life between all counter-ISIL forces operating in the area." YPG representative to the global anti-ISIL coalition, Polat Can, also confirmed that they had reached a truce with Turkish-backed rebels. "We have reached a temporary ceasefire between the Jarablus Military Council and the occupying Turkish army in the Jarablus area under the supervision of the global coalition," he said on Twitter. Tanju Bilgic, the official spokesman for Turkey's foreign ministry, did not confirm or deny the reported ceasefire. In a later statement, Bilgic said Turkey's Euphrates Shield "operation ... will continue, with utmost respect to the territorial integrity of Syria, until the calamity of terror is not disturbing Turkish citizens". The foreign ministry statement also said that comments from the US about the target and scope of the week-long Turkish military operation in Syria were "unacceptable", adding that Ankara expected a US pledge that the YPG would remain east of the Euphrates to be fulfilled "as soon as possible". Separately, Turkish military said that the country's army had not agreed to any ceasefire with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. A senior Turkish military official also told the Sabah daily: "We are not aware of such an agreement. If the US announced such a thing that means they are trying to present terrorist organisations as formal parties as if we deal with them." "These conflicting reports could be a further indication of mounting tension between Turkey and the US about how to deal with northern Syria," "We've been talking to [Free Syrian Army] factions operating on the ground," he said. "They are basically saying that as far as they are concerned there is no truce." "They said that they have been shelling some areas under YPG control north of Manbij," he added. "Their strategy basically is to continue the fight until they push YPG across the Euphrates River." In a separate statement late on the 30 Aug 16 the Turkish military said that three of its soldiers were injured and a tank was slightly damaged in a rocket attack in western Jarablus, without mentioning which group was behind the strike. The injured soldiers were immediately rushed to a hospital and ISIL targets in Syria's Kulliyah region were destroyed with "precision", the statement added. The US has long been trying to avert an escalation in violence between Turkish-backed FSA forces operating in and around the Syrian border town of Jarablus and YPG fighters in the same region. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter called on Turkey on the 29 Aug 16 to stay focused on fighting ISIL and not target the YPG. He said a continued Turkish push would complicate the fight against ISIL.