– Obama weighs moving US troops closer to front lines in Syria, Iraq
– Russians, Iranians killed in Syria
– ISIS blows up columns in Syria’s Palmyra while executing three captives
– France hosts Syria talks on Tuesday
– UN says 120,000 displaced in Syria in October

– Oman minister meets Assad to discuss conflict
– Turkey fires at Kurdish forces in northern Syria 
– Turkish security forces clamp down on ISIS

Obama weighs moving US troops closer to front lines in Syria, Iraq
President Barack Obama’s most senior national security advisers have recommended measures that would move US troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria, officials said, a sign of mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and a renewed Pentagon push to expand military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas. The debate over the proposed steps, which would position a limited number of special operations forces on the ground in Syria and put US advisers closer to the firefights in Iraq, comes as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter presses the military to deliver new options for greater military involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The policy still requires Obama’s formal approval, who could make a decision as soon as this week. The number of additional troops required to implement the changes considered by Obama remain unclear, but would likely be relatively small. [WP, 10/27/2015]

Russians, Iranians killed in Syria
A person close to the family of Russian teen Vadim Kostenko said he is dead after “[going] to Syria as a contract soldier,” though his death is not confirmed and the cause of death is unclear. Meanwhile, a spike in the number of Iranian military officers killed in Syria has started a rare debate in Iran about the country’s efforts to prop up President Bashar al-Assad. The past two weeks have seen the deaths of one of Iran’s best known generals, Hossein Hamedani, two colonels, and nine other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). [AFP, 10/27/2015]

ISIS blows up columns in Syria’s Palmyra while executing three captives
ISIS reportedly killed three of its captives in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra by tying them to Roman-era columns at the site then blowing the structures up with explosives. The Palmyra explosions were the latest method of killing by ISIS militants, known for beheadings, immolation, and drowning of prisoners. A Palmyra activist who goes by the name Nasser al-Thaer said that the killings of the three captives took place on Monday afternoon at the Palmyra archaeological site, located a few miles away from the city. Thaer and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the three executed were civilians. [AP, AFP, 10/27/2015]

France hosts Syria talks on Tuesday
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France will host talks on the Syria conflict on Tuesday. The “working dinner” at the French Foreign Ministry will include “the main partners engaged with France in dealing with the Syrian crisis: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Germany, the United States, Italy, and Britain,” Fabius said in a statement. “They will discuss the means to bring about a political transition towards a united and democratic Syria, respectful of all communities, while also reinforcing our fight against terrorism,” he added. Tuesday’s meeting will feature mainly lower-rung officials, with the United States sending its Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken in place of John Kerry. [AFP, Reuters, 10/27/2015]

UN says 120,000 displaced in Syria in October
A significant surge in fighting this month in Syria has displaced nearly 120,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Most of the displaced fled their homes in the Hama, Aleppo, and Idlib governorates between October 5 and 22. The majority, however, still remain inside the three provinces, with only a small portion escaping to refugee camps along Syria’s border with Turkey. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which put out a similar report on Monday, said the recent surge in displaced Syrians places significant pressure on already overloaded camps. According to the NRC’s report, most of those displaced this month are from the Aleppo governorate, where regime forces began a major ground offensive on October 16. [Reuters, AP, 10/27/2015]

Oman minister meets Assad to discuss conflict
Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi met with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Monday to discuss the various strategies put forward to address the ongoing violence in Syria. The meeting came on the heels of the Russian announcement the same day calling on Syria to make arrangements for a new round of parliamentary and presidential elections. Diplomats and political analysts have said that Oman, a Gulf state with close relationships with the United States, Syria, and Iran, could potentially play the role of intermediary in any future round of negotiations in the war-torn country. [Reuters, 10/27/2015]

Turkey fires at Kurdish forces in northern Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed that the military targeted People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish forces in northern Syria in an interview with Turkey’s ATV television late Monday. The YPG, the Kurdish military arm of the Kurdish Democratic Party (YPD) in northern Syria and key US ally in its efforts to defeat ISIS, said the Turkish military shot at its forces deployed in the town of Tel Abyad twice on Sunday. Davutoglu stated, “We said the PYD will not go west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. We hit it twice. Turkey cannot abandon its border, its fate to any country.” Davutoglu suggested that the Turkish forces hit the Kurdish forces west of the Euphrates river while the YPG said the attack was in Tel Abyad east of the river. [AP, 10/27/2015]

Turkish security forces clamp down on ISIS
Turkish officials announced on Tuesday that two policemen were killed by a suicide bomber while storming a suspected ISIS cell in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey. Police raided a house used by the extremists in Diyarbakir on Monday, triggering a clash that left the two policemen and seven ISIS militants dead. About fifteen suspected militants were detained and the government labeled the raid as an important blow to an ISIS cell in Turkey, seizing bomb-making materials and arms. On Tuesday, police detained some thirty ISIS suspects in raids in the central Turkish city of Konya and in the nearby town of Cumra, while a further twenty-one people were detained in Istanbul. Turkey’s military said seventeen ISIS militants were also detained in the border province of Kilis while trying to sneak across into Syria. [AP, 10/27/2015]

For more in-depth Syria news and analysis, please visit SyriaSource.