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Media Summary

Kurds say Turkey using napalm and white phosphorus

The Daily Mail reports that Kurdish troops have claimed Turkey is using banned weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus in Northern Syria.

BBC News, the Guardian, Times, Independent, Financial Times, ITV News, Sky News and Reuters report that Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw. The deal came after US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met for talks in Ankara. All fighting will be paused for five days, and the US will help facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey terms a “safe zone” on the border. It is unclear if the fighters of the Kurdish YPG will fully comply. Reuters reports that shelling and gunfire resounded around the northeast Syrian town of Ras al Ain on Friday.

Reuters reports that Republican and Democratic lawmakers will keep up their push for tougher sanctions on Turkey over its offensive in Syria despite the announcement of a ceasefire. Reuters reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for a Senate resolution stronger than the measure condemning President Trump’s withdrawal of US forces passed by the House of Representatives. The Financial Times reports that Russia has stated that a solution to the Syrian crisis must involve the transfer of control over the Turkish-Syrian border to Damascus.

The Guardian and Reuters report that aid agencies have warned that shifting frontlines in Syria are making it difficult to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis. After eight days of the Turkish operation, approximately 300,000 people have been displaced and 71 people killed, according to the UN and a human rights monitor.

Reuters reports that Turkey could allocate funds in its 2020 budget for building housing for refugees in a “safe zone” in northern Syria.

BBC News reports that Turkey is participating in a military exercise in Scotland amid tensions over the Turkish offensive in Syria. Turkey has two liaison officers at Joint Warrior, which involves more than 3,725 personnel.

The Independent reports that the US military bombed its own base as part of its hasty withdrawal from Syria. Jets wiped the facility at the Lafarge Cement Factory, between Ain Issa and Kobani near the Turkish border, from the map hours after troops withdrew.

BBC News, the Telegraph, Independent and Daily Mail report that President Erdogan put President Trump’s letter “in the bin”. In the letter dated 9 October, Trump told Erdogan: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” The Guardian conjectures about what the letter “tells us about Donald Trump”.

The Telegraph interviews the British “IS matchmaker” who escaped a detention camp has said she wants to be given passage to Turkey and allowed back home. Tooba Gondal who is being held by Syrian rebel fighters close to the Turkish border, says she “wants her nightmare to end”.

Reuters reports that Iraqi officials appeared cautious on Thursday after holding talks with European powers this week aimed at accelerating efforts to create a judicial framework that would enable jihadists being held in Syria to face trial in Iraq.

The Daily Mail reports that IS boasted it has ‘freed’ women held by the Kurds, the latest in a series of reported breakouts since Turkey launched a cross-border offensive last week. In a statement released on the Telegram messaging application, the group said it had stormed a security headquarters west of Raqqa on Wednesday.

The Financial Times argues that “Donald Trump’s Syria pullout is a serious strategic error”: “Decision weakens US power and undermines trust in its reliability”.

In the Guardian, Joshua Leifer maintains that “Americans want an end to forever wars. But that’s not what Trump offers”.

In the Independent, Robert Fisk states that “Trump’s disgrace in the Middle East is the death of an empire. Vladimir Putin is Caesar now”.

In the Financial Times, Edward Luce argues that Russia has reaped the “windfalls of Trump’s chaos”: “Moscow would readily agree that US president is the best in history”.

In the Spectator, Paul Wood says that “as Trump abandons Syria’s Kurds, Russia is ready to expand its empire”: “The President has always said he wants to get America out of foreign wars. But is he playing into Putin’s hands?”.

In the Independent, Richard Hall investigates whether Turkey committed a war crime against a protest convoy in Syria.

In the Times, Richard Spencer opines that President Trump’s world-view is “decades old but coherent”: “President Trump’s outbursts […] often contain a coherent world-view. The shock to the system is that it is not a world-view any senior American political figure has expressed for decades”.

In New Statesman, Maurice Glasman argues that “the Kurds sacrificed their lives to fight IS and now they are being abandoned by their Western allies”.

The Financial Times examines “how the Syria-Turkey crisis has caused turmoil in Nato”.

Reuters reports that the Israeli ambassador to Ukraine has asked police to find and punish people who left a red paint-spattered effigy of tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky, who holds a Ukrainian Jewish community leadership post, on the steps of the main synagogue in Kiev.

Reuters reports that Saudi Aramco has delayed the planned launch of its initial public offering in hopes that pending third-quarter results will bolster investor confidence.

BBC News reports that thirty-five foreign nationals were killed and four others injured in a bus crash near Medina in western Saudi Arabia. The bus collided with a “heavy vehicle” in al-Akhal Centre on Wednesday. The passengers were expatriate Arabs and Asians reportedly travelling from Medina to Mecca for a pilgrimage.

The Financial Times examines the mystery surrounding the abduction of France-based Iranian activist  Ruhollah Zam.

Reuters reports that Qatar has adopted a new minimum wage law and will scrap mandatory exit visas for all workers, part of a broad labour reform programme ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The Independent reports that temperatures in Qatar have risen so much that authorities have installed air conditioning in the open air including in streets and outdoor markets.

Reuters reports that preliminary results in Afghanistan’s presidential election will be delayed beyond Saturday’s deadline for more than a week, fuelling political uncertainty.

Reuters reports that a record 4,313 civilians were injured or killed in Afghanistan’s war against the Islamist Taliban between July and September, the UN said on Thursday.

Reuters reports that Lebanon’s cabinet has agreed to impose a fee on calls over WhatsApp and other similar applications, as part of efforts to raise revenues in its 2020 draft budget.

Reuters reports that Palestinians in Gaza are increasingly turning to domestic pets for emotional comfort from harsh economic realities, but the growing animal population is stretching ill-equipped veterinarian facilities.

In the Guardian, Oliver Holmes looks “inside Jerusalem’s hi-tech underground necropolis”: “With a dire shortage of land for graves, the holy city is reviving an ancient custom of underground burial – with lift access, LED lighting and golf buggies”.

The Financial Times have published a number of articles related to their special report entitled “Arab World: Banking and Finance”.

US team to visit Israel

Israel’s Channel 13 News reported that Jared Kushner, Brian Hook, (US envoy on Iran) and Avi Berkowitz (who replaces Jason Greenblatt) are expected to visit Israel on October 27. They will meet with Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz but are not expected to provide any update about their long awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian talks. After Jerusalem they will travel to Saudi Arabia for an economic conference. All the Israeli media report that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel today to update Netanyahu on his meeting with Erdogan yesterday and the US decision to withdraw from northern Syria.

IDF shoots down drone on Gaza border

The Israeli media reported that the IDF yesterday shot down a drone that entered Israeli territory near the security fence by the southern Gaza Strip. There were no injuries and no damage was caused. Ynet notes that this is the second incident in a month where a drone was launched into Israel from Gaza and there is concern that this could be a new Hamas tactic.

West Bank car ramming

Yediot Ahronot reports that an East Jerusalem resident in his twenties drove his car into a car full of undercover border policemen, causing serious damage to the vehicle. The incident occurred after the forces had operated in the al-Amari refugee camp in the Ramallah area and arrested two wanted men on Wednesday night. The driver was shot and taken to hospital. The paper also reports a separate incident close to Ramallah yesterday where around 200 Palestinians clashed with Israeli settlers, they throw stones and firecrackers at each other until the IDF intervened and removed the settlers.