Turkish-Led Forces Advance Into Syrian Border Town, Fighting Rages

Daniel Fowler
October 13, 2019

The Kurdish-led administration in Syria's northeast said almost 200,000 people had been uprooted so far by the fighting, while the UN World Food Programme said more than 100,000 had left Ras al Ain and the town of Tel Abyad.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey will not stop until the YPG, which forms the backbone of the US-backed ground force against the so-called Islamic State, withdraws beyond a 20-mile line from the border.

"I dont think our solders should be there for the next 50 years, guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can't guard our own borders at home", he said referring to the USA border with Mexico.

The fighting was ongoing as the Kurdish fighters sought to reverse the Turkish advance into the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor.

He said that Turkey launched multiple 155mm shells at the area, creating a 'bracketing effect'. Most of the civilian deaths were also in Tel Abyad, a border town that is one of the focal points of the operation.

"It's very hard to beat a force where they have planes and they don't", Trump said, referring to Turkey and the Kurds during a speech in Washington.

The SDF lost 11,000 fighters in the protracted US-led campaign against IS before finally overrunning IS's self-proclaimed "caliphate" in March.

In a televised statement, senior SDF official Redur Xelil said the SDF was continuing to cooperate with the US -led coalition against Islamic State even as it must now also confront the Turkish attack on northern Syria.

Kurdish forces in northern Syria have been a USA partner in the fight against IS, but Turkey considers them to be terrorists. "Inspections are being conducted in residential areas", the official said.

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Turkey announced it took the center of Ras al Ain Syrian town.

The foreign minister added that Turkish claims are just attempts to hide those facts, and that Arab people look forward to a strong Arab stance that rejects the aggression and to measures that ensure the territorial integrity of Syria, the protection of its people and the alleviation of their suffering.

In the first four months of 2019, Turkey received weapons from Germany worth 184million euros, making it the biggest recipient country, the paper said.

In warning Turkey on Friday following the shelling, the Department of Defense appeared to reject Ankara's claims that its soldiers accidentally launched shells which fell just a few hundred meters from an American observation post in northern Syria.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. warned that Ankara could face "powerful sanctions" if its operations target civilians.

Members of The American Rojava Center for Democracy, an organization that advocates for freedom, democracy, and peace in Syria, take part with other activists in a rally to protest Turkey's incursion into Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria and urge US action against Turkey, outside the White House in Washington, U.S, October 12, 2019.

In his statement on Saturday, SDF official Redur Xelil demanded the United States help protect the Kurdish fighters by closing air space to Turkish planes, describing it as a moral obligation.

Esper said he was repositioning additional troops around the region "to assist with force protection as necessary".

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