Turkish military push deeper into northeast Syria as president rebuffs criticism
|globalnews.ca 10 Oct 2019 at 04:57|
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ISTANBUL – Turkish commandos pushed deeper into Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river on the second day of an offensive against Kurdish militia, as a withdrawal by U.S. forces opened up a dangerous new phase in the region’s eight-year-old conflict.
Ashamed of Washington’s role in making way for the Turkish incursion, senior members of U.S. President Donald Trump’s own Republican Party condemned him for abandoning Syrian Kurds, who have been loyal allies of Washington in the fight against Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).
NATO-ally Turkey has said it intends to create a “safe zone” in order to return millions of refugees to Syria. But world powers fear the Turkish action could exacerbate the conflict, and run the risk of ISIS prisoners escaping from camps amid the chaos.
“Our heroic commandos taking part in Operation Peace Spring are continuing to advance east of the Euphrates,” the Defence Ministry wrote on Twitter on Thursday, posting a video showing soldiers firing rifles in darkness as they advanced.
A witness in the Turkish town of Akcakale said volleys of rockets were fired from there across the border into Syria’s Tel Abyad. Smoke rose from two targets hit on the Syrian side of the border, he said.
Turkish forces shelled targets near Ral al Ain on Thursday morning, and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters responded, another witness said.
The Turkish military has hit 181 targets of the Kurdish militia with its air force and artillery since the start of operation into northeast Syria, the ministry said.