Turkey pounds Syrian border towns, sparking exodus

Clay Curtis
October 14, 2019

"Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey, just the opposite".

In Washington, Trump suggested that the United States could mediate in the conflict.

He has insisted he will impose sanctions on Turkey if it acts irresponsibly.

On Thursday, Turkish troops partly encircled the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

Turkey has launched mostly air and artillery attacks on the SDF and had only used "limited" ground forces, according to USA military chiefs.

"The Syrian National Army is the indigenous component of the Turkish operation".

Meanwhile, intense clashes are now taking place between the Turkish military and the Kurdish militias inside the city of Ras al-Ain.

The officials say a large base in the town has not been affected by the shelling.

Esper's remarks were the Pentagon's most explicit criticism of the Turkish operation, which began Wednesday as a campaign against the Syrian Kurd-led militia that has partnered with U.S. forces over the past five years to fight the Islamic State. The city was also heavily shelled by Turkish forces.

This is the first time a coalition base has been in the line of fire since Turkey's offensive into Syria began Wednesday. It says it has killed 277 militants in total.

The risk that thousands of the militants still held could break free on the back of the Turkish assault could yet spur the worldwide community into action, but two days into the offensive the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were fending for themselves, trying to repulse multiple ground attacks along a roughly 120km segment of the border.

"The whole border was on fire", he said. The Kurds, who the Turks - Kurdish fighters who the Turks see as terrorists allied with militants - Kurdish militants in Turkey are actually protecting some of these US bases.

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In Syria's al Bab, some 150 km west of the offensive, some 500 Syrian rebels were set to head to Turkey to join the operation, CNN Turk reported.

The SDF said Turkish air strikes and shelling had killed nine civilians.

They are armed, trained and paid by Ankara, and once again joined Turkish soldiers this week as part of "Operation Peace Spring", launched on Wednesday against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The Observatory said Turkish forces seized two villages near Ras al Ain and five near Tel Abyad.

Ali Tuygan, Ambassador (Ret'd) and former Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on his blog that the Syrian conflict is "Turkey's number one headache" and described it as "the erosion of Turkey's worldwide image, its loss of appeal".

Mehmanparast, in an article published in Tehran, said "from the perspective of Iran, intervention of foreign forces in Syria are condemned, and Iran has emphasized that all the foreigners should leave Syria".

The SDF have been key allies of the U.S. in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group. They have been holding thousands of captured IS fighters in prisons and tens of thousands of their relatives in detention.

On Friday, the Pentagon said its base near the northern Syrian town of Kobane - an area known by Turkey to have United States forces present - had seen shell fire from Turkish positions.

France, a key partner in the US-led anti-IS coalition, has threatened sanctions against North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey.

"The Adana Agreement between Turkey and Syria - still valid - can be the better path to achiev (ing) security", Zarif said.

"No one should doubt that Turkey will respond tit-for-tat to possible U.S. sanctions", said spokesman Hami Aksoy, responding to a statement by the U.S. Treasury Department on possible sanctions against Turkey in relation to its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

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