Turkey Syria offensive: Heavy fighting on second day of assault

Turkey Syria offensive: Heavy combating on second day of assault

Turkish-backed Syrian rebelsPicture copyright
Getty Pictures

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Turkish-backed rebels from the Free Syrian Military, pictured right here crossing the border into Syria, are additionally concerned within the offensive

Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a floor offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkey’s army stated it had seized designated targets. There are stories of heavy combating within the central border area, and 7 civilian deaths.

Tens of 1000’s of persons are reported to be leaving their houses.

The assault on Kurdish-led forces, key US allies, follows US President Donald Trump’s resolution to withdraw US troops.

Turkey says it desires to create a “secure zone” on the border for most of the Syrian refugees on its territory.

On Thursday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to ship the refugees to Europe as a substitute if it characterised the Turkish offensive as an occupation.

Many within the US, together with a few of Mr Trump’s Republican allies, noticed the withdrawal of troops as successfully giving a inexperienced mild for the Turkish offensive, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday denied that was the case.

However Mr Trump instructed a information convention the Turks and Kurds had “been combating one another for hundreds of years”, and stated that Kurdish fighters “didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with [the D-Day landings in] Normandy”.

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Media captionTrump: Kurds “did not assist us in Second World Conflict”

The United Nations Safety Council is because of focus on the offensive on Thursday on the request of its present 5 EU members – the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland.

What is going on on the bottom?

Kurdish sources report a big floor offensive between the cities of Ras al-Ain and Tal-Abyad, within the central space of Syrian’s northern border with Turkey.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels from the Free Syrian Military have additionally been concerned within the combating.

The world is sparsely populated and primarily inhabited by Arabs.

Ras al-Ain has been hit by quite a few air strikes. Eyewitnesses spoke of army jets circling and shelling by artillery.

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Civilians fled bombardment in Ras al-Ain

Turkey’s defence ministry stated on Twitter that its operation had continued efficiently via the night time by land and air. Studies say numerous villages east of Tal-Abyad had been captured.

Mr Erdogan stated 109 militants had been killed, injured or captured within the preliminary combating. The SDF stated the determine was an exaggeration.

The UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, stated a minimum of 16 SDF fighters had been killed and dozens extra injured.

  • Who’re the IS prisoners no-one desires?
  • Why the battle for northern Syria issues

The Kurdish Crimson Crescent stated a minimum of seven civilians had to this point been killed, two of them kids, and a minimum of 19 extra critically injured together with 4 kids.

There are not any clear estimates of numbers of displaced, however Kurdish sources say a minimum of tens of 1000’s have left their houses.

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Media captionSome residents started to flee as smoke rose over the border city of Ras al-Ain

Kurdish authorities accused Turkey of shelling a jail holding Islamic State (IS) group prisoners in Qamishli within the east of the border area in a “clear try” to assist them escape.

Kurdish authorities have referred to as for a common mobilisation and urged individuals to “head to the border with Turkey… to withstand on this delicate, historic second”.

What resistance can the Kurdish-led forces supply?

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at present quantity about 40,000 fighters, with tens of 1000’s of others in parallel Kurdish safety companies, Kurdish sources say.

The US joint job drive on operations towards IS in Iraq and Syria describes them as “tenacious fighters with a level of primary army coaching to perform as soldiers”.

However they’re poor in heavy weaponry that may very well be used towards tanks or plane, although some items could have anti-tank missiles.

In operations towards IS, they relied on shut coalition air assist however within the flat, open nation of Syria’s northern border they are going to be weak to air and artillery assault.

Transactional alliances

Even by President Trump’s personal exceptional requirements his off-the-cuff comment that the US alliance with the Kurds is of little significance as a result of they weren’t at Normandy, ie they didn’t struggle with the US and its allies in World Conflict Two, is extraordinary.

For Mr Trump alliances are merely transactional – enterprise preparations to be judged in accordance with a brutal and short-term price profit evaluation. What’s the US giving and what’s it getting in return?

In seemingly writing off the Kurds he means that the US can simply discover different allies within the area. Actually? Has he already forgotten latest historical past? The Kurds had been the one succesful and dependable native ally within the wrestle towards IS.

However what’s going to Mr Trump do about Turkey who, by the way, weren’t at Normandy both? That is quick turning into a serious take a look at of Turkey’s standing inside Nato, with many fearing it has turn into a removed from dependable ally of the West.

Why has Turkey attacked?

Turkey says the purpose of the operation is to “stop the creation of a terror hall” on the border and create a “secure zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will even home two million Syrian refugees, practically half these at present dwelling in Turkey.

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Residents fled border cities after the offensive began

However critics say the operation might result in ethnic cleaning of the native Kurdish inhabitants in northern Syria, doubtlessly displacing 300,000 individuals, and a revival of IS.

Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia – the dominant drive within the SDF – an extension of the banned Kurdistan Employees’ Occasion, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for 3 many years.

How is the incursion affecting the IS state of affairs?

The SDF says it’s holding greater than 12,000 suspected IS members in seven prisons, and a minimum of 4,000 of them are international nationals. The precise areas haven’t been revealed, however some are reportedly near the Turkish border.

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Media captionContained in the camp of IS households in Syria

Two camps – Roj and Ain Issa – holding households of suspected IS members are contained in the “secure zone”.

It’s unclear whether or not the Kurds will proceed to protect the prisons as combating breaks out.

The US army says it has taken custody of two British detainees notorious for their roles in an IS cell that tortured and killed nearly 30 Western hostages.

The 2 males, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, had been a part of a British cell nicknamed The Beatles.

They’ve now been faraway from a jail run by the Kurdish-led militia in northern Syria.

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