– Russian jet shot down near Syria-Turkey border
– Russian ground troops engage in Syria; Syrian troops seize territory from ISIS
– Global watchdog slams ongoing chemical arms use in Syria
– US warplanes destroy 283 fuel trucks in Syria
– Turkey’s new government announced
– Iran says US plans to divide Iraq

Russian jet shot down near Syria-Turkey border
On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane it claims violated its airspace. Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkey’s action a “stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices,” and warned of “significant consequences.” Russia insists the plane stayed over Syria, where it was supporting ground action against rebels over the Turkmen Mountain region in Syria’s Latakia province. At Turkey’s request, NATO’s governing body called an emergency meeting. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted his country has the right to take “all kinds of measures” against border violations and called on the international community to work toward “extinguishing the fire that is burning in Syria.” Dozens of people have gathered outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul to protest Russian operations in Turkmen regions of Syria. The protesters chanted, “Turkmen brothers are not alone” and “Killer Russia, get out of Syria.” [AP, 11/24/2015]

Russian ground troops engage in Syria; Syrian troops seize territory from ISIS
For the first time, Russian ground troops participated in fighting against Syrian opposition forces in the area between the countryside of Latakia and Idlib, capturing a strategic hill without sustaining any injuries or losses, Syrian military sources revealed. According to the sources, “the Kremlin has made a decision to interfere strongly in Syria, a real training arena, to show the Russian strength and weaponry, as [Russian] soldiers have not participated in a real battle for many years.” The sources explained that the Assad regime provided logistical support to Russian forces for the first time in Syria, without the participation of the Syrian army or its allies. In related news, Syrian troops backed by the Russians captured areas from ISIS in the province of Homs. [Syrian Observer, 11/24/2015]

Global watchdog slams ongoing chemical arms use in Syria
The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) watchdog Monday voiced “grave concern” at the continued use of toxic arms in Syria, calling for those behind such attacks to be held accountable. A special meeting of the UN-backed OPCW met to discuss the findings of three reports after investigations in Syria. The body expressed “grave concern regarding the findings … that chemical weapons have once again been used in the Syrian Arab Republic,” the OPCW said in a statement. The use of such weapons by anyone “is unacceptable and would violate international law … Those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable.” The OPCW investigations did not directly blame any of the parties in the four-year civil war. [AFP, 11/23/2015]

US warplanes destroy 283 fuel trucks in Syria
US warplanes have destroyed 283 fuel tankers that were being used to transport oil to fund ISIS in eastern Syria, officials said Monday. The huge air raid is another milestone as the US-led coalition intensifies its campaign against the jihadists and focuses on their oil-smuggling infrastructure, estimated to net the group some $500 million a year. Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the strike occurred Saturday between Hasaka and Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. It came less than a week after a similar strike destroyed 116 ISIS fuel trucks. Just as in that earlier case, US jets first conducted a low-flying “show of force” over the trucks, then dropped leaflets telling drivers to flee. The Pentagon says that while the trucks were being used to support the ISIS group, the drivers themselves were not thought to be jihadists. [AFP, 11/23/2015]

Turkey’s new government announced
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new government led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which is composed of several names close to the president including his son-in-law. Davutoglu announced in a news conference after his meeting with Erdogan that Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, was appointed Energy and Natural Resources Minister. The Cabinet includes other politicians known to be close to Erdogan, in a clear indication that the president would retain influence over the government. Mevlut Cavusoglu was re-appointed to the post of foreign minister. The new Cabinet includes only two women who are in charge of the environment and of family affairs. [AP, 11/24/2015]

Iran says US plans to divide Iraq
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to divide Iraq along sectarian and ethnic lines and urged Iraqis to withstand any such plans. Iran’s military advisers are helping direct Baghdad’s campaign against ISIS, while the country has reportedly also provided a number of weapons and funding to Shia militias. It was not clear if Khamenei was referring to a specific incident, but Iran has protested about US policy in Iraq several times this year. Khamenei accused the United States of trying to amplify differences between the Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Arabs who “have been living together peacefully.” However, Iran’s backing of Shia militias fighting ISIS has also added to sectarian divisions, as there have been reports of militias looting and attacking Sunni residents in Tikrit. [NYT, 11/24/2015]