Wednesday, 16 October, 2019

Turkey launches offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria

A graffiti of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is seen on the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria as a TV journalist works in Akcakale Sanliurfa province southeastern Turkey Tuesday Oct. 8 2019. The Turkey- Syria Turkey will not bow to Trump's threats over Syria safe zone
Deanna Wagner | 11 October, 2019, 04:48

Republican senator Lindsay Graham said he plans to introduce a package of "devastating" sanctions to hit Turkey over its military operation in northeast Syria, expressing concerns over the fate of Kurds in the area.

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

Kurdish forces allied with the United States issued a "general mobilization" call Wednesday in northeastern Syria amid worries of a "humanitarian catastrophe" from an expected invasion by Turkey.

Turkey has invaded north-eastern Syria, attacking largely-Kurdish fighters who were key in defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil).

A spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria said Turkish warplanes had started targeting "civilian areas" in northern Syria. "Yesterday, we saw U.S. troops, but this time they were on their way out of the area, and that terrified people", he said.

The Turkish-backed opposition "Syrian National Army" called on Kurdish fighters to abandon their weapons and remain in their homes as the Turkish operation started.

Donald Trump controversially withdrew U.S. troops ahead of the action but says Turkey may face economic consequences.

The offensive, which began with airstrikes in Syrian border towns, has presented the Trump administration with a dilemma, because of the Syrian-Kurdish forces' alliance with the United States.

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Speaking to EU lawmakers Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "I call on Turkey as well as on the other actors to act with restraint and to stop operations already, as we are speaking, underway".

On October 8, Turkey's Armed Forces announced that it's ready to fight against any terror groups posing treat to all Turkish citizens, with the understanding of "if we die we are martyrs, if we don't, we are war veterans".

Trump denied he had abandoned the forces, the most capable U.S. partners in fighting the militant Islamic State group in Syria.

In a statement issued before Turkey launched its attack, Amnesty International said "it is imperative that all parties to this conflict respect international humanitarian law, including by refraining from carrying out attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks".

He said the USA will monitor the situation closely.

On Monday, Trump said he was "not siding with anybody" - Kurdish forces or the Turkish government - and reiterated an earlier warning to Turkey about potential economic devastation. Russian news media said Moscow communicated that position to Washington. It concluded by saying that "removing" IS fighters, weapons and bomb materials "remains a top priority" as the group "continues to plot attacks against innocent civilians and our partners throughout Iraq and northeast Syria". The U.S. -allied Kurdish-led force captured the last IS area controlled by the militants in eastern Syria in March. There were no immediate reports of casualties there. Raqqa is being Silently Slaughtered, an activist collective that covers news in the northern city, reported an exchange of fire and a blast.

The Observatory said the attack involved two IS fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.

Mr. Erdoğan has spoken of plans to build towns, villages, hospitals, and schools but also says Turkey, which has already spent some $40 billion on the refugees, can not afford to do it alone.