February 15th – 19th

Monday, 15th February 2016
ISRAEL – Turkey and Israel are close to signing an agreement on compensation for the killing of 10 Turkish activists by Israeli commandos in 2010, a Turkish ruling party official said on Monday. The former allies have stepped up efforts in recent months to restore a relationship that was severely damaged following the Israeli raid on a Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, which had been trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip. (Al-Arabiya)
SYRIA – Airstrikes blamed on Russia hit at least two hospitals and a school in northern Syria on Monday, killing and wounding dozens of civilians and further dimming hopes for a temporary truce, as government troops backed by Russian warplanes pressed a major offensive north of Aleppo. (Haaretz)
TURKEY – The United Nations Security Council will on Tuesday discuss Turkey’s shelling of targets in Syria at the request of Russia, which has voiced concern about Turkish military attacks on Russian-backed Kurdish militia fighters, according to an email exchange. (Reuters)

Tuesday, 16th February 2016
CYPRUS – Cyprus said on Tuesday it was planning a third offshore licensing round for hydrocarbons exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, moves which have triggered opposition from Turkey in the past. (Reuters)
MIGRANT CRISIS – Germany’s Angela Merkel vowed to push for implementation of the EU’s migration deal with Turkey at a summit this week, saying the alternative of closing borders to limit the flow of refugees to Europe would have dire consequences. (Reuters)
SYRIA – France and Turkey have called the bombing of two schools and five hospitals in Syria “war crimes”, while hopes for a ceasefire faded as President Bashar al-Assad played down prospects of a truce. (Al Jazeera)
The Syrian government has approved humanitarian aid deliveries to seven besieged areas, the United Nations said. The seven areas are considered to be the most in need of relief by the 17-member International Syria Support Group. (The Independent)
TURKEY – Turkey is asking allies including the United States to take part in a joint ground operation in Syria, as a Moscow-backed government advance nears its borders, raising the possibility of direct confrontation between the NATO member and Russia. (Reuters)

Wednesday, 17th February 2016
SYRIA – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow and Tehran were ready to step up their military cooperation after meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday. (Al-Arabiya)
TURKEY – Turkey reeled on Wednesday from a deadly bombing of a military convoy in the capital, plunging its leaders deeper into crisis mode and underscoring the country’s vulnerability to the Syrian war and revitalized Kurdish insurgency. (The New York Times)
The rapid advance of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, taking advantage of Russian air strikes to seize territory near the Turkish border, has infuriated Ankara and threatened to drive a wedge between NATO allies. (Reuters)
Turkey does not intend to stop shelling Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in response to cross-border fire, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, adding the United States should decide whether it wants to back Turkey or the Kurdish insurgents. (The Jerusalem Post)
WAR ON TERROR – A Saudi official has confirmed that Riyadh has sent warplanes to Turkey’s southern Incirlik airbase, a move considered as preparation for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). (Al-Arabiya)

Thursday, 18th February 2016
MIGRANT CRISIS – European Union leaders pondering the migration crisis in Brussels on Thursday will discuss whether a German-backed strategy for Turkey to curb the flow was enough or a “Plan B” to close Balkan borders is needed. (Reuters)
SYRIA – Any incursion into Syrian territory by a foreign power would be illegal, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday, in a statement clearly designed to be heard in Turkey. (Al-Arabiya)
TURKEY – The Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, alleged that Wednesday’s attack, which left 28 dead, was carried out by a Syrian Kurdish fighter with links to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia that has been supported by the US in the fight against Islamic State in northern Syria. (The Guardian)
Turkey’s military shelled positions of the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria on Thursday in response to cross-border fire, a Turkish security source said. (Reuters)

Friday, 19th February 2016
LEBANON – Saudi Arabia said Friday it has halted a $3 billion programme for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group fighting in support of Syria’s regime. (Al-Monitor)
MIGRANT CRISIS – EU leaders meeting in Brussels also unanimously opposed “unilateral actions” by member states after Austria said it would cap the daily number of asylum claims. “We agreed that our joint action plan with Turkey remains a priority and we must do all we can to succeed,” Tusk told a press conference after the first day of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels. (Al-Monitor)
TURKEY – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said U.S.-supplied weapons had been used against civilians by a Syrian Kurdish militia group that Ankara blames for a deadly suicide bombing, and said he would talk to President Barack Obama about it later on Friday. (Reuters)
WAR ON TERROR – US warplanes struck an Islamic State camp in Libya early on Friday, targeting a senior Tunisian operative linked to two major militant attacks in Tunisia last year, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified Western official. (The Jerusalem Post)
European domestic intelligence services want to boost their fight against the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) by working closer together. The announcement came as threats of new IS attacks in Europe were revealed. (Deutsche Welle)

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