Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 1-Turkish forces intensify bombardment around Syrian town

Reuters | Updated: 12-10-2019 13:55 IST | Created: 12-10-2019 13:48 IST
UPDATE 1-Turkish forces intensify bombardment around Syrian town
Image Credit: ANI

Turkish forces stepped up their bombardment around a town in northeast Syria on Saturday, the fourth day of an offensive against a Kurdish militia, after U.S. troops in the region came under artillery fire from Turkish positions.

The United States has ramped up its efforts to persuade Ankara to halt the incursion against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, saying Ankara was causing "great harm" to ties and could face sanctions. Turkey opened its offensive after U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Sunday with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan and withdrew U.S. troops who had been fighting alongside Kurdish forces.

On Friday evening, Erdogan dismissed mounting international criticism of the operation and said Turkey "will not stop it, no matter what anyone says". On the frontlines, thick plumes of smoke rose around Ras al-Ain, one of two Syrian border towns targeted in the offensive, as Turkish artillery targeted the area on Saturday, said a Reuters reporter across the frontier in the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar.

Intense gunfire also resounded from within the town of Ras al-Ain itself, while warplanes could be heard flying overhead, he said. It was quieter at Tel Abyad, the operation's other main target some 120 km (75 miles) to the west, with only occasional shell fire, heard in the area, another Reuters reporter said.

Earlier, the Pentagon said U.S. troops came under artillery fire from Turkish positions on Friday but none of its soldiers was wounded, near Syria's Kobani, some 60 km (37 miles) west of the main area of conflict. Turkey's Defence Ministry said its forces did not open fire at the U.S. base and took all precautions to prevent any harm to it while it was responding to fire from a nearby area by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.

"The U.S. and coalition soldiers were definitely not hit. Indeed the necessary coordination is being carried out by our headquarters and the Americans," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying on Saturday. Akar was speaking as he and military commanders visited operation headquarters along the border, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Seventy-four Kurdish-led fighters, 49 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and 20 civilians have been killed in the fighting, according to a war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The United Nations has said 100,000 people have fled their homes. Turkey's Defence Ministry said 415 YPG militants had been "neutralised" since the operation began, a term that commonly means killed.


The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with the Kurdish YPG as its main fighting element, now holds most of the territory that once made up Islamic State's "caliphate" in Syria, and has been keeping thousands of fighters from the jihadist group in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps. The Kurdish militia says the Turkish assault could allow the jihadist group to re-emerge as some of its followers were escaping from prisons.

In its first big attack since the assault began on Tuesday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly car bomb in Qamishli, the largest city in the Kurdish-held area, even as the city came under Turkish shelling. Five Islamic State fighters fled a jail there, and foreign women from the group being held in a camp torched tents and attacked guards with sticks and stones, the SDF said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has told his Turkish counterpart they should deescalate the situation before it becomes "irreparable", while European Council President Donald Tusk warned it could lead to a "humanitarian catastrophe". Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, responded to the criticism on Saturday, saying "Turkey's fight is against terrorists, not Kurds or civilians", and telling those who condemn Turkey that thousands of civilians were killed in U.S.-led coalition operations in Syria's Raqqa and Iraq's Mosul.

"Blackmail and threats will never deter Turkey from its just cause," Kalin wrote on Twitter. "God willing victory will be ours." U.S. lawmakers introduced more legislation on Friday seeking stiff sanctions on Turkey over the offensive, underscoring unhappiness from both Democrats and President Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress over his Syria policy.

U.S. military officials denied lawmakers' accusations that the Trump administration had abandoned U.S. allies to a Turkish military onslaught. Ankara says it aims to defeat the YPG, which it sees as an enemy for its links to PKK militants who have fought a decades-old insurgency in Turkey in which 40,000 people have been killed.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump had authorized the drafting of "very significant" new sanctions against Turkey, a NATO ally. Washington was not activating the curbs now but would do so if necessary, Mnuchin said. Turkey aims to set up a "safe zone" inside Syria, where it can resettle many of the 3.6 million refugees it has been hosting. Erdogan threatened to send refugees to Europe if the European Union did not back his assault, prompting a furious response from the EU.

Also Read: UPDATE 1-Erdogan, Trump discuss Syria 'safe zone' in phone call; to meet next month -Ankara



New farm bills in India: Focusing on farms or farmers?

... ...

Kenya’s COVID-19 response: Chaos amid lack of information

Confusing numbers and scanty information on how effective curfews and lockdowns have been in breaking transmission have amplified coordination and planning challenges in Kenyas response to COVID-19. Without accurate data, it is impossible t...

Farkhad Akhmedov: Calculating the price of impunity from the law

In insistences such as the battle over the Luna, Akhmedov has resorted to extreme legal machinations to subvert the High Courts decision and keep his assets from being seized. ...

Guinea’s elections hearken back to the autocracy and violence of its past

... ...


Latest News

Goa minister to approach cops as miscreant creates fake FB a/c

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Thursday alleged that a fake Facebook account has been created in his name by a miscreant and he would file a complaint about it with the state polices cyber crime cell. In a Facebook post on his accoun...

Japan's plan to build missile defence system at sea faces mounting costs - source

Basing Japans missile defence systems at sea may cost at least twice as much to complete as its now-abandoned plans for Aegis Ashore ground-based sites and delay it to 2028, a person with knowledge of the plans told Reuters. Fitted with pow...

604 people booked in TN's Thoothukudi after clash between AIADMK, DMK cadres

Tamil Nadu Police have filed an FIR against 604 people from both AIADMK and DMK, including two MLAs Geetha Jeevan and Chellappa, a day after a clash broke out between the cadres of both parties while hoisting their party flags in Thoothukud...

Czech Republic reports record daily COVID-19 cases as shops shut

The Czech Republic registered a record one-day tally of 14,968 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said, as the government ordered most shops to close and tightened restrictions to curb the viruss spread.The country, whi...

Give Feedback