Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Kurds mobilise in Syria as Turkey poised for imminent attack

Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops near the Turkish border in Hasakah Syria last November Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops near the Turkish border in Hasakah Syria last November
Russell Knight | 09 October, 2019, 15:23

In a written statement Monday, Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the US does not endorse a Turkish military operation in Syria and will not support it. Hoffman says the Pentagon will work with allies and coalition partner nations to reiterate to Turkey that its potential military operation in Syria would have "possible destabilizing consequences" for Turkey and for the region.

Ankara said on Tuesday it would "shortly" begin an offensive into northern Syria, as it sent more armoured vehicles to the border.

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, hold a position on a building in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

In series of tweets from the verified Twitter account of the SDF, the General Command said the border areas of northeast Syria "are on the edge of a possible humanitarian catastrophe".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Raqqa attack involved two ISIS fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.

"There were no injuries to our forces". But the United States backs the YPG and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.

Turkey has a large military and is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, the official noted, suggesting Mr. Trump had abandoned efforts to further forestall a Turkish operation.

Turkish parliament members vote for a motion to extend the government's authority to launch cross-border military operations in Iraq and Syria, in Ankara, Turkey, on October 8, 2019.

Turkey's communications director, Fahrettin Altun, wrote in the Washington Post that Kurdish forces can either "defect" or Turkey will "have no choice but to stop them from disrupting our counter-Islamic State efforts".

They will be based in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, it said, across the border from Ras al-Ain, with 14,000 of them gradually joining the offensive.

Britain yesterday said it was "deeply concerned" by Turkey's plans and would not support the move.

Ankara has massed thousands of troops and readied heavy weapons for days along its border with Syria and vowed it would go ahead with the operation and not bow to a USA threat over its military plans against the Kurds and their military, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkey's lira lost 2% of its value against the dollar to hit its weakest since early September.

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The currency firmed slightly to 5.8220 against the dollar on Wednesday morning.

US President Donald Trump has blown hot and cold since a surprise announcement on Sunday that Washington was pulling back 50 to 100 "special operators" from Syria's border with Turkey.

"We know that in this area many weapons and many fighters from the YPG went via northern Iraq to Turkey and they have infiltrated the area and they have caused massive destruction."

Trump's warning on Turkey's economy on Monday appeared aimed at placating critics who accused him of abandoning the Syrian Kurds.

Erdogan will visit the United States on November 13 at Trump's invitation, a White House spokesman said.

In a separate set of tweets, the president also praised Turkey, inviting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the White House on November 13, while calling Ankara a "big trading partner" and crediting the Turkish government with "helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province".

"Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally".

"We announce three days of general mobilisation in northern and eastern Syria", the Kurdish civilian administration said in a statement.

Russian Federation criticizes "reckless attitude" of U.S.

"Given the likely military issues raised on the call between [Trump] and President Erdogan, Secretary of Defense Esper and Chairman Milley participated on the call", the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency.

Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria has rattled allies, including France, one of Washington's main partners in the USA -led coalition fighting Islamic State.

Kurdish-led forces have denounced the USA policy shift as a "stab in the back".

Meanwhile, the Syrian government has welcomed the upheaval, spying an opportunity to bring the country's Kurds back into its fold.

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