BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish forces and their Syrian allies seized significant components of the northern Syrian town of Suluk, a war monitor mentioned on Sunday, as they pressed on with their offensive against Kurdish militia for a fifth day in the face of fierce international opposition.

Smoke rises close to the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria, October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Turkey is facing threats of attainable sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have mentioned they are halting weapons exports to Turkey and the Arab League has denounced the operation.

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia just after U.S President Donald Trump withdrew some U.S. troops from the border area. Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish militants in Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group mentioned Turkish forces and Syrian rebels entered Suluk, some 10 km (six miles) from Turkey’s border. Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency mentioned the rebels seized total handle of Suluk.

Suluk is southeast of the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad, 1 of the two primary targets in the incursion, which was shelled by Turkish howitzers on Sunday morning, a witness in the neighboring Turkish town of Akcakale mentioned.

Gunfire also resounded about the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain, some 120 km (75 miles) to the east of Tel Abyad, even though Turkish artillery continued to target the location, a Reuters reporter across the border in Turkey’s Ceylanpinar mentioned.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, identified as the National Army, sophisticated into Ras al Ain on Saturday but by Sunday there have been nonetheless conflicting reports on who held handle.

The Syrian Observatory monitoring group mentioned the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the YPG comprises the primary fighting element, had recovered “almost complete control” of Ras al Ain just after a counter attack.

A spokesman for the National Army denied this, saying its forces have been nonetheless in the positions they took on Saturday.


Turkey’s incursion has raised international alarm more than its mass displacement of civilians and the possibility of Islamic State militants escaping from Kurdish prisons. The Kurdish-led forces have been important allies for the United States in eliminating the jihadist group from northern Syria.

Far more than 130,000 folks have been displaced from rural locations about Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a outcome of the fighting, the United Nations mentioned on Sunday.

In a statement, the U.N. Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs mentioned OCHA and other relief agencies estimated up to 400,000 civilians in the Syrian conflict zone may possibly call for help and protection in the coming period.

In the newest criticism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed “grave concern” to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying the offensive may possibly worsen the humanitarian scenario and undermine progress against Islamic State.

“He urged the President to finish the operation and enter into dialogue,” a spokesman for Johnson mentioned just after a phone get in touch with amongst the two leaders on Saturday evening.

Turkey’s Defence Ministry mentioned on Sunday that 480 YPG militants had been “neutralized” because the operation started, a term that normally indicates killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-primarily based organization that reports on the war, mentioned 74 Kurdish-led fighters, 49 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and 30 civilians have been killed in the fighting.

In Turkey, 18 civilians have been killed in cross-border bombardment, Turkish media and officials say.

For a graphic on ‘Where Kurds live’, click right here


The SDF holds most of the northern Syrian territory that after created up Islamic State’s “caliphate” in the nation. It has been maintaining thousands of fighters from the jihadist group in jail and tens of thousands of their loved ones members in camps.

The Kurdish-led administration for northern and eastern Syria mentioned the offensive was nearing a camp for displaced folks holding thousands of members of “Islamic State (IS) families”.

About 100 folks – females affiliated with IS and their youngsters – have escaped from the camp, the Observatory mentioned.

The shelling of the camp at Ain Issa, north of Raqqa and about 30 km (20 miles) south of the border represented “support for the revival of the Daesh organization”, the Kurdish-led administration mentioned, referring to IS militants.

Addressing the U.N. Safety Council, the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State and other international parties, the Kurdish-led administration urged them “to bear your responsibilities and to intervene rapidly to avoid a catastrophe whose effects will not be restricted to Syria alone but will knock on all your doors when matters get out of control”.

Islamic State has claimed duty for a automobile bomb on Friday in Qamishli, the biggest city in the Kurdish-held location, exactly where some IS militants fled from a jail.

On Saturday Trump defended his choice to withdraw troops from the Syrian border area, telling conservative Christian activists that the United States really should prioritize guarding its personal borders.

“Let them have their borders, but I do not assume our soldiers really should be there for the subsequent 50 years guarding a border amongst Turkey and Syria when we can not guard our personal borders at household,” Trump mentioned in a speech in Washington.

Turkey’s stated objective is to set up a “safe zone” inside Syria to resettle numerous of the three.six million Syrian war refugees it has been hosting. Erdogan has threatened to send them to Europe if the EU does not back his assault.

He has also dismissed the expanding condemnation of the operation, saying that Turkey “will not cease it, no matter what everyone says”.

The SDF accused Turkey-backed rebel fighters of killing a Kurdish politician in a road ambush on Saturday. The rebel force denied it, saying it had not sophisticated that far.

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The Syrian Observatory mentioned Turkey-backed groups had killed nine civilians on the road, such as Hervin Khalaf, co-chair of the secular Future Syria Celebration.

For a graphic on ‘Turkey hits Kurdish militia targets’ click right here

Reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul, Tom Perry in Beirut and Reuters correspondents in the area, Kirsti Knolle in Vienna Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Frances Kerry

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