Turkey says troops captured Syrian border town

Daniel Fowler
October 13, 2019

Turkey had been poised to enter northeast Syria since President Donald Trump ordered USA troops, who have been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against Islamic State, to pull out.

It used to be an apparent reference to a US switch to withdraw forces from piece of the border now being centered by Turkey.

The Kurdish forces, who partnered with the U.S.to capture vast areas of eastern Syria from IS, say they may not be able to maintain detention facilities holding thousands of militants as they struggle to stem the Turkish advance.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, confirmed that Turkish troops have entered the town adding that fighting is still ongoing.

Turkish forces had overnight stepped up their bombardment of Ras al-Ain in their incursion, after USA troops in the region came under artillery fire from Turkish positions.

Across the region, Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebel fighters have made gains, capturing several northern villages in fighting that has left dozens killed or wounded and forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes since Wednesday.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, president of the current Arab League session, also condemned Turkey's offensive into Syria during an emergency meeting of the body, called by Egypt. The Syrian Kurdish-led administration said almost 200,000 people have been displaced as a result of the offensive.

Germany halted arms exports to Turkey.

Top Pentagon officials stressed the need for Turkey to avoid doing anything to endanger USA forces inside Syria, which numbered about 1,000 before the incursion.

The global community have widely condemned Ankara's offensive into northern Syria which primarily targets Western-backed Kurdish forces which were instrumental in dismantling IS's caliphate over Syria and Iraq.

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Already weakened by the redeployment of forces to front lines, the guarding of the camp was further depleted on Sunday when Turkish shells crashed nearby, prompting some of the remaining personnel to flee, SDF official Marvan Qamishlo said.

France's defense and foreign ministries said Saturday that the country was halting exports of any arms to Turkey that could be used in its offensive.

"We are still cooperating until now with the worldwide coalition to fight Daesh".

Ankara views the main fighting element of the SDF - the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and wants to drive the forces further away from its border with Syria. Though US President Donald Trump has been accused of "abandoning" Washington's Kurdish allies in the region, Trump has threatened to punish Turkey with economic sanctions unless its military shows restraint.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced on Saturday that four civilians were killed in Tal Abyad when an airstrike hit the auto in which they were fleeing the fighting, while another three were shot dead by snipers around the border town.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he is an "island of one" for removing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria.

In Turkey, 18 civilians have been killed in cross-border bombardment, Turkish media and officials say, including eight people in a mortar and rocket attack on the border town of Nusaybin, the local governor's office said.

Turkey's said goal is to arrange a "safe zone" inside Syria to resettle lots of the three.6 million Syrian battle refugees it has been internet hosting.

The SDF's Qamishlo said the attack was carried out by IS sleeper cells and another senior SDF official said the Turkish assault had given new life to the jihadist group.

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