Published: Thu, October 10, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Explosions shake Syria's Ras al Ain on Turkish border: CNN Turk

Explosions shake Syria's Ras al Ain on Turkish border: CNN Turk

Trump has enraged many Republicans and Democrats with his abrupt decision on Sunday to redeploy 50 US troops from northern Syria after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told him a long-planned assault against the Kurds would start soon.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the USA does not endorse Turkey's military assault on Syria, calling the operation a "bad idea".

The Turkish offensive jeopardizes Kurdish-led forces who have been a key USA ally in the bloody fight against ISIS.

Al-Hawl, home to around 60,000 women and children with links to Isis and 10,000 displaced civilians, has been tense since Donald Trump announced USA troops would leave the area at the weekend, paving the way for the Turkish attack on Wednesday.

Turkey has launched its military operation in northern Syria, with airstrikes hitting the border towns of Ras al Ain and Tell Abaid. The officials who confirmed the suspension spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details on the situation.

A senior administration official said the United States had leaned heavily on the SDF to reduce its fortifications in those areas, under the idea that Turkey would then not invade.

He said no American soldiers are in the area.

"We announce three days of general mobilization in northern and eastern Syria", the administration said in a statement, urging all civilians to "head to the border with resist during this delicate historical moment".

TV reports in Turkey said its warplanes had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border. The sound of explosions could be heard in Turkey.

Mr Trump's withdrawal of the few dozen United States troops in the border area was seen as a "stab in the back" by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and drew condemnation even from the president's Republican allies.

President Erdogan's aide, Fahrettin Altun, said fighters from the Kurdish YPG - viewed as terrorists by Turkey - could either defect or Ankara would have to "stop them from disrupting" Turkey's struggle against Islamic State militants.

In the build-up to the expected offensive, Syria had said it was determined to confront any Turkish aggression by all legitimate means. "Mothers and wives, crying desperately", he said. The resident, who gave his name as Maher, said the road to Raqqa was packed with vehicles and families, some fleeing on foot "to get away from the bombing". "We've seen people in trucks with their possessions, people trying to leave on foot".

Turkey views Kurdish YPG fighters in northeast Syria as terrorists due to their ties to militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey, an influx of non-Kurdish Syrians would help it secure a buffer against its main security threat.

Expectations of an invasion increased after Mr Trump's announcement on Sunday, although he also threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.

The U.S. for years provided covert support to Syrian rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with the aim of pressuring President Bashar al-Assad into a political settlement, but it ditched that program in mid-2017.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close Trump ally, stepped up his criticism of the president Wednesday, telling "Fox & Friends" that if Trump "follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency".

"War has been chasing us for years, and everyday Erdogan threatens us with a new attack", he added.

He said he doesn't want to engage in "endless, senseless wars" particularly those engagements that are of no benefit to the United States.

Egypt's foreign ministry condemned the offensive as "a blatant and unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of a brotherly Arab state".

France's European affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin said France and Britain would call a UN Security Council meeting over the Turkish offensive.

Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-km-wide (19-mi) safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij.

Turkey aimed to "neutralize" Syrian Kurdish militants in northeast Syria and to "liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs", Altun wrote.

These people are members of an ethnic minority known as the Kurdish people.

However, Syrian government officials repeatedly said that Kurdish federalization in Syria or self-rule is out of the question.

Mr Trump later cast his decision to pull back U.S. troops from parts of north-east Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from the "endless war" in the Middle East. Kurdish leaders also called on Russian Federation to act as an intermediary in possible talks with Damascus.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on his Twitter feed that the operation "is jeopardising the anti-Islamic State coalition's security and humanitarian efforts and is a risk for the security of Europeans".

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which took control over areas liberated from ISIS, is aligned with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting against Turkey for decades.

The SDF called on the global community to impose a no-fly zone to protect against "an imminent humanitarian crisis".

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