Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Divided UN fails to agree on Turkey's offensive in Syria

Alexanda Amon Kotey left and El Shafee Elsheikh who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal Islamic State cell dubbed Shame on Erdogan --- and on the European Union
Russell Knight | 11 October, 2019, 19:54

Ankara has long opposed USA support for the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group, arguing the militia is a "terrorist" offshoot of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey.

Meanwhile, at a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was more circumspect, pointing out that no ally in NATO had suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey and that NATO was strongly committed to Turkey's security.

Cavusoglu had earlier said that Ankara expects to see its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies stand by it in the "legitimate" offensive in northeastern Syria.

Turkey says it is targeting Kurdish fighters, who fought alongside USA forces in routing ISIS from northern Syria.

"We call upon Turkey to cease the unilateral military action as we do not believe it will address Turkey's underlying security concerns", they said.

The first death of a Turkish soldier was confirmed by Turkey's military.

On Friday, Turkish jets and artillery struck around Syria's Ras al Ain, one of two border towns that have been the focus of the offensive.

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Some 64,000 people have already reportedly fled their homes, the International Rescue Committee aid organisation said.

The Turkish air and ground assault was launched three days after US President Donald Trump opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies.

The European council members" statement also urged protection of civilians and said "it is unlikely that a so-called "safe zone' in northeast Syria, as envisioned by Turkey, would satisfy worldwide criteria for refugee return". The ongoing invasion is not only an assault on Syria's Kurdish forces that nearly single-handedly, and heroically, defeated ISIS on the ground but, also, an assault on Turkish democrats and their campaign to check the creeping authoritarianism of the Turkish government. The PKK has also been designated as a terrorist group by the European Union, the US and other countries.

"There's areas in northern Syria where Islamic State's militants have amassed", the Russian president warned at the Commonwealth of Independent States' summit in Turkmenistan. Trump came under fire from supporters and detractors alike for abandoning the Kurdish allies against IS in Syria.

The Turkish assault aims to carve out a corridor of control along the length of the border - a so-called "safe zone" - clearing out the Kurdish militia and settling 2 million Syrian refugees in the zone.

In a separate statement, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said that if Turkey does not "protect vulnerable populations" or does not guarantee that the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group "cannot exploit these actions to reconstitute", there will be consequences. And while militants hold no geographic territory, they still conduct frequent attacks in areas controlled by the SDF.

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