Sunday 1 October – Sunday 8 October:
On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive in front of the interior ministry building in Turkey’s capital Ankara at about 09:30 local time. Another terrorist was killed by gunfire from security forces. Two police officers were injured in the attack. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attack, prompting Turkish strikes on the group’s targets in northern Iraq later on Sunday. The PKK has been waging attacks since 1984, killing tens of thousands of people. A series of successive Turkish military operations has pushed the group back into neighbouring Iraq. On Tuesday, Turkey launched new air strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq. The Turkish Defence Ministry says that 16 targets were destroyed in Tuesday’s bombings. On Wednesday, Turkey said the two attackers had come from Syria. The SDF (Syrian rebels) denied that the bombers had passed through its territory. Late on Thursday the Turkish defence ministry said that it had destroyed 30 targets in northern Syria, including an oil well, a storage facility and shelters, and neutralised a number of fighters.
On Monday, the European Union convened its meeting of 27 foreign ministers in Ukraine’s capital Kiev. This is the first time the bloc has had this meeting outside of the EU and was previously unannounced. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief said the meeting showed that “Ukraine’s future lies within the EU”. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed the ministers’ meeting “within future borders” of the EU in a post on social media platform X. “Glad to welcome EU foreign ministers at the historic meeting in Ukraine,” he said, adding: “For the first time in history, outside current EU borders. But also within its future borders.”
On Monday, former president Donald Trump was in court for the first day of his civil fraud trial, which is focused on Trump’s business activities. He is alleged to have grossly inflated the value of his property portfolio. Attorney General Letitia James is seeking at least $250m in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization. Trump attacked the trial and those involved with it as taking part in the “continuation of the single-greatest witch hunt” in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to removed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position. Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus, led by Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and supported by Democrats, voted to remove the Speaker in a 216-210 vote. Without a speaker, the House of Representatives is unable to push through bills, including vital spending bills. McCarthy has announced that he will not run for speaker again. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said that President Joe Biden hopes the House will quickly select a new speaker, saying the “urgent challenges facing our nation will not wait”.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s government announced that an estimated 1.7 million undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan must leave the country by November 1 or be deported. The government is taking this action because of a spate of suicide bombings carried out by Afghan nationals within Pakistan – of the 24 suicide bombings this year, 14 were carried out by Afghans. Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said “If they do not go, … then all the law enforcement agencies in the provinces or federal government will be utilised to deport them”.
On Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said it had transferred more than a million rounds of Iranian 7.62mm ammunition that was seized last year from a transport ship on its way to Houthi rebels in Yemen, to Ukrainian forces on Monday. The million rounds will not go far – an April defence package from the Pentagon transferred 23 million rounds of small-arms ammunition to Ukraine. Long-range strike weapons and air defence are of greater priority for Ukrainian forces.
On Thursday, more than 100 people were killed in a drone attack on the graduation ceremony of a Syrian military college in the central province of Homs. The Syrian military accused fighters “backed by known international forces” of responsibility for the attack, though there were no claims of responsibility. Syria’s defence minister was also in attendance, though he left minutes before the attack took place. N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “expressed deep concern” at the drone attack in Homs as well as “reports of retaliatory shelling” in northwest Syria. Government forces launched reprisal attacks across 20 villages in the Idlib governate, where the last Syrian rebels have sought shelter. The attacks, launched from government positions south and east of Jabal al-Zawiya, began at 3:30pm local time (12:30 GMT). Locals say the attacks targeted a power station and a popular market.
On Thursday, the U.S. shot down a Turkish drone with F-16 warplanes over Syria after it approached American troops stationed in Syria. Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said Turkish drones had been seen carrying out airstrikes Hasakah on Thursday morning about 1 km away from U.S. troops. A few hours later a Turkish drone came within less than a half a kilometer of U.S. troops and was deemed a threat and shot down, though it was not intentionally targeting U.S. forces. After the incident, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Turkish counterpart, talks which were “fruitful”.
On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a U-turn in border policy: an extension to the Mexico border wall. The president said that funding from the Trump era, by law, had to be used up in 2023. The head of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said the new wall will be built in the Rio Grande Valley Sector – where over 245,000 illegals have crossed into the United States during this fiscal year. There is “an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries”. The U.S. Congress had blocked attempts to use the money from 2019. The same day, Elon Musk went to the border to livestream on X, formerly Twitter.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an address at the 20th annual Valdai Discussion Club – a think tank – in the Black Sea city of Sochi. In his speech he said the West had lost its sense of reality and have crossed every line in their pursuit of global hegemony. He contrasted Western and Russian conceptions of civilisation and said that Russia would not betray its civilisation – “This is the path towards universal chaos; it is unnatural and, I would say, disgusting”. He boasted of Russia’s latest weapons – such as the Sarmat ICBM and the Burevestnit nuclear-powered cruise missile – and raised the possibility of withdrawing from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which the U.S. has never been a signatory to.
On Thursday, a Russian missile strike on the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine struck a funeral gathering in the village of Hroza. 51 civilians in the town of 330 people were killed. Ukrainian officials say an Islander ballistic missile was used in the attack.
On Thursday, a U.S. official told CBS News that North Korea has begun transferring artillery to Russia. It was not immediately clear whether the transfer is part of a new, long-term supply chain or a more limited consignment, or what North Korea is getting in return for the weapons. North Korea previously supplied the Wagner Group with ammunition.
On Saturday, the Islamist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, launching thousands of rockets and penetrating the border – 50 years and a day after Egyptian and Syrian forces launched an assault during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 1973. At 06:30 local time, Hamas launched a massive rocket barrage on southern Israel – Hamas claiming to have launched 5,000 rockets, while Israel’s military said the number was closer to 2,500. Hamas’ attack, called Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, used the rocket fire as cover for its fighters to infiltrate Israeli borders from multiple directions from the Gaza Strip around 07:40. Hamas fighters entered through breaches made in the border fences – in some cases, Hamas used bulldozers to tear down the fence – but also attempted landings by small motorboats. More interesting, some fighters entered the country using motorised paragliders. By 10:00, Hamas fighters had penetrated at least three Israeli military installations, including taking control of the sole crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Israel by land, the Erez border crossing. Fighters raided the town of Sderot and travelled 30km into Israel. Over 250 Israelis were killed, the majority civilians, while over 1,500 were injured and an unknown number taken captive by Hamas fighters. Israeli forces began air strikes on the Gaza Strip soon after the attack began and continued throughout the day. Israeli ground forces engaged Hamas fighters in 22 locations near the Gaza Strip – a sign of the breadth of the assault.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel “is at war” and many are expecting a large ground campaign as Israel has called up military reservists. Netanyahu vowed that Israel would defeat Hamas in a war that “will take time” but that will give Israel “mighty vengeance for this black day”. He warned the residents of Gaza to leave their homes as Israel will begin an operation that will turn Gaza into a “deserted island”. Israel ordered its state-run electricity company to halt supply to the Gaza Strip. Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani praised Hamas, saying: “What took place today is in line with the continuation of victories for the anti-Zionist resistance in different fields, including Syria, Lebanon and occupied lands.” Just days before the attack, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei delivered a speech at the International Islamic Unity Conference in Iran’s capital Tehran in which he said the “usurper Zionist regime” would soon come to an end.
On Sunday, Israeli media reported the death toll in Israel stands at 600. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. On Israel’s northern border, Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets and shells on Sunday at three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border and Israel’s military fired back using armed drones. Israeli armoured vehicles were spotted travelling north in force. The Israeli military says it has killed 400 militants since the start of the war and captured dozens more. Israel has so far struck at least 426 targets in Gaza with footage showing giant explosions flattening residential buildings.
In the week ahead: the Israeli conflict with Hamas will dominate the headlines. It is possible the conflict will spread to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon where the Islamist group Hezbollah has its stronghold.