Turkey Syria offensive: U.S. builds pressure to halt incursion against Kurds

Nellie Chapman
October 18, 2019

"Turkish artillery hit close to a USA special operations unit near Kobani on Friday", DeWalt confirmed.

Doctors Without Borders and other groups raise alarm over everything from massive new flows of refugees to conditions for Islamic State fighters detained during a previous phase in Syria's chaotic civil war.

But Trump's decision to abandon America's Syrian Kurdish allies in the face of Turkey's offensive in northern Syria, along with other recent moves, has raised concerns that Trump might not be a reliable ally.

Navy Captain Brook DeWalt said the area was "known by the Turks to have USA forces present".

Ankara began its onslaught against the YPG, which it says is a terrorist group backing Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, after Trump withdrew some United States troops who had been backing Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS.

Trump announced the withdrawal this week, taking supporters by surprise and prompting widespread accusations of a betrayal of Kurds allied to the USA whom Turkey swiftly attacked.

Demonstrators gathered in Montreal Saturday to protest Turkey's incursion into northeast Syria, warning of humanitarian disaster and US strategic folly.

Esper "strongly encouraged" Turkey to halt the offensive, warning of "serious consequences", adding that he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley had spoken directly to their Turkish counterparts.

"Now there are threats coming from left and right, telling us to stop this", Erdogan said. "We will not step back".

Putin says that he doubts that the Turkish army has enough resources to promptly take control of the IS prison camps, saying that he fears that the captured IS fighters "could just run away".

He also announced that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, would visit the White House.

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"We have had specific reports of intimidation, ill-treatment, killing, kidnapping, looting and seizure of civilians' houses by the Turkish-backed armed groups in these areas, with civilians reportedly seized by members of these groups from their homes or at checkpoints, accused of affiliation with specific Kurdish armed or political groups", Colville said.

As the offensive went into its third day, the SDF were fending for themselves, trying to repulse multiple ground attacks along a roughly 120-kilometre (75-mile) stretch of the border.

It also would stop arms from going to Turkish forces in Syria, and require the administration to impose existing sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

"Now the SDF's attack has started and there are very fierce clashes", he told Reuters.

That brings the civilian death toll to 17 on the Syrian side, while 17 have also been killed in Turkey. The SDF lost 11,000 fighters in the US-led campaign.

Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad have been the primary focus of Turkey's offensive launched on Wednesday against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Most of those fleeing were heading east towards the city of Hasakeh, which has not been targeted by Turkey.

The agreement requires the Kurdish fighters to vacate a swath of territory inside Syria along the Turkish border.

Aid groups have warned of yet another humanitarian disaster in Syria's eight-year-old war if the offensive is not stopped.

"The artillery shells hit several hundred metres from where the United States special ops forces were located".

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