syria gets more & more ominous

Russia moves helicopters to new base in Qamishli
Defense Post, Nov 14 2019

Russia has begun moving helicopters and other equipment to a new Syria base on the Turkish border, state TV reported, weeks after Pindo forces began to withdraw from the north-east. Two Mi-35 helicopter gunships and an Mi-8 transport helicopter were moved from Khmeimim to Qamishli in north-eastern Syria, reported Zvezda TV run by the defence ministry. Earlier reports suggested Russia had been negotiating a long-term lease of the airport at Qamishli, which is about 500 km north-east of Khmeimim. Much of Qamishli is controlled by the SDF, but parts of it including the civilian airport on the outskirts have been under SAA control throughout the conflict. air force official Timur Khodzhayev told Zvezda:

Russia also sent on-ground support, fuel and a meteorological service to Qamishli, and has 10 vehicles on the ground to ensure continuous flights, safety of the helicopters and the defence of this territory. The main goal is to ensure calm.

The new base is protected by the Pantsir anti-aircraft gun and missile system and the landing area is encircled by military police, according to the channel. Earlier this month, CENTCOM met Kurdish officials outside Qamishli, and a source who took part in one of the meetings told AFP that Pindo forces wanted to return to the area. AFP correspondents also saw a Pindo convoy in a village east of Qamishli on Wednesday. On Oct 9, Turkey and its Syrian proxy forces launched an incursion into Syria to push the Kurds south, after Trump said Pindo troops would withdraw from the immediate area. Ankara wants to clear a 30-km buffer zone to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey. Russia and Turkey signed a deal on Oct 22 that would see Russian military police and Syrian border guards “facilitate the removal” of the SDF from border areas. Under the MoU between Turkey and Russia, YPG fighters must leave a 30-km area along the entire length of the Syria-Turkey border. Shoygu said SDF units had redeployed from the border area on Oct 29. That was followed by joint Russian-Turkish patrols to a depth of 10 km.

Dozens injured as multiple explosions hit Qamishli
Defense Post, Nov 11 2019

QAMISHLI – As many as three bombs exploded in the north-east Syrian border town of Qamishli today, killing at least one person and rocking the border town that is largely under control of the Pindo-led Coalition-backed SDF. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which involved at least two vehicles at a restaurant and in front of busy hotels. Six people were killed and 46 others wounded, according to the health department of the SDF-controlled territory. Emergency workers recovered what appeared to be a suicide vest and the remains of an automatic rifle. Medics on the scene told The Defense Post that two people were killed but the report could not immediately be verified. As many as 30 other people were wounded. The Kurdish Red Crescent, YPG and Asayish police were on the scene around 4 pm as civilians were pushed back from the street in front of the bombed-out cafeteria. Witnesses said one bomb went off around 3:08 pm and the second exploded two minutes later. The Syriac Military Council (MFS) said a third bomb exploded near a church a short time later. It was unclear whether the explosions were caused by car bombs, a motorbike bomb, or a person inside the cafeteria wearing a suicide vest. Windows on all four floors of the cafeteria, the adjacent Al Soufaraa Hotel, and the Asia Hotel across the street were blown out by the blast and debris was scattered on surrounding streets. Both hotels are frequented by foreigners. One man at the scene said:

There’s no police station here. There’s no military checkpoint here.

A nearby security official affirmed that there are no SDF or Asayish positions on the block. The explosions occurred one block from a known Syrian military checkpoint. Qamishli is the de facto capital of the self-declared autonomous region of North and East Syria, much of which is under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, although parts of the city, including streets near the bomb site, are under control of the Syrian government. Qamishli has been targeted several times in recent years, including by ISIS, but has seen less violence than other parts of Syria. In June, Daesh set off a vehicle bomb targeting the Asayish in the Qidurbek neighborhood that injured several people, including an 8-year-old. A month later, a car bomb blew up outside a church in a Christian area of the city and injured nearly a dozen people. Daesh claimed responsibility for that bomb as well. This is a developing story.

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