Regime forces, ISIS, rebels square off in Aleppo

ISIS militants battled rival insurgent groups on Wednesday north of the city of Aleppo, where officials say the Syrian army is preparing an offensive of its own backed by Iranian soldiers and Russian jets.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the road used by Aleppo residents heading north to the Turkish border remained closed on Wednesday. “There are mobilizations by the regime in most parts of Aleppo, particularly in Bashkoy,” said Hassan Haj Ali, head of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal rebel group. Iran has sent thousands of additional troops into Syria in recent days to bolster one offensive currently underway in Hama province and in preparation for another in the Aleppo area, two senior regional officials said. Supported by two weeks of airstrikes, the Syrian army and its allies have been fighting insurgents in northern Hama province and neighboring Idlib and Latakia provinces, trying to reverse rebel gains over the summer that threatened the coastal heartlands of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority. [Reuters, 10/14/2015]

Turkish PM says will not accept US cooperation with Syrian Kurds

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu complained to the US Ambassador John Bass about reports of possible weapons aid to Syrian Kurdish forces affiliated with Turkey’s Kurdish rebels. Davutoglu said Wednesday there was a risk of such weapons falling into the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and being used against Turkey. A local Kurdish official said the United States had provided 120 tons of weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish militia in Syria fighting the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). The US military did not confirm delivery of weapons or ammunition to Syrian Kurds in the last week. [AP, 10/14/2015]

Washington declines deeper military talks with Russia on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States declined to send a high-level military delegation to Moscow to discuss deeper coordination in fighting in Syria. Lavrov said the proposal was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to New York in late September. He said the idea also included sending a Russian delegation headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the United States as a second step. He said on Tuesday Washington told Moscow it won’t be receiving the Russian delegation. [AFP, 10/14/2015]

Russian forces target ISIS

Russian military airplanes made forty-one sorties in Syria in the past twenty-four hours and attacked forty ISIS targets, a defense ministry official told Russian news agencies on Wednesday. In the attacks, Russia’s air force destroyed workshops near Aleppo used by terrorists to make explosive devices for suicide bombers, Defense Ministry’s Igor Konashenkov said.  [Reuters, 10/14/2015]

Syrian air raids pound rebel areas around Damascus

Syrian bombing raids struck rebel positions around Damascus on Wednesday in a bid to dislodge insurgents entrenched on the outskirts of the capital, a military source said. “The army began a military operation this morning with the aim of expanding a security zone around areas controlled [by the government],” the source said. Jobar neighbourhood, in eastern Damascus, is highly strategic as it sits near the Abbasid Square roundabout that leads directly to the heart of Damascus and provides access to Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-controlled region east of the capital. [Daily Star, 10/14/2015]

Turkish ISIS cell main suspect in Ankara bombings; ministers fired for security failures

Turkish investigators believe an ISIS cell from the southeastern town of Adiyaman, thought to have been behind previous attacks in the country, may have carried out a double suicide bombing that killed ninety-seven people in the capital Ankara. Turkey’s Human Rights Association said several families from the town had approached authorities in recent years expressing concern that their sons could have left to join ISIS in Syria. The Turkish Interior Ministry said it had removed Ankara’s police, intelligence, and security chiefs from their posts in an effort to help the investigation into Saturday’s bombings. [AP, 10/13/2015]