Ahead of offensive, Turkey says it struck Syria-Iraq border

Galtero Lara
Octubre 9, 2019

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, says the attack involved two IS fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.

"There were no injuries to our forces. We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE #Syria", the SDF said.

Gharib Hessu, a member of the Kurdish Movement for a Democratic Society in North Syria, denied any links between terrorist acts in Turkey and Rojava. Eventually, it was the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces - supported by USA air power - who overran the last part of Islamic State's "caliphate" in March this year.

The Hamza Brigade rebels from the National Army, the main rebel grouping that Turkey supports in northwest Syria, travelled in a convoy of buses accompanied by trucks loaded with ammunition, DHA said.

The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched in July 2014 inside Syrian territory, was not only aimed at fighting ISIS but also the YPG.

At Akcakale, across from Syria's Tel Abyad, howitzers were deployed behind earth embankments and pointed towards Syria, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.

The prospect of a military offensive has unsettled Turkish financial markets, with the lira this week hitting its weakest level since late August. Their presence is concentrated mostly in northern Syria.

"Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency", he said.

"I told Turkey if they do anything outside of what we think is humane. they could suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy", the President said.

But he also gave a warm account of Turkey in other tweets and announced that Erdogan would visit Washington on 13 November.

"So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States", he said.

Turkey sought to underscore its determination to act.

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A Trump administration official, briefing reporters on a conference call, said the United States troops would be redeployed elsewhere in Syria "where they aren't in the crossfire".

"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.

To many people in the United States, Europe and Australia, the Kurds of northern Syria are known for being the frontline fighters in the battle to defeat the terrorist group Islamic State. "The decision was made without consulting US allies or senior US military leadership and threatens to affect future partnerships at precisely the time we need them most", retired Gen. Joseph Votel, who led US Central Command from March 2016 to March 2019, wrote in an opinion piece in The Atlantic. The Turkey - Syria border has became a hot spot as Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey was intent on combatting the threat of Syrian Kurdish fighters across its border in Syria.

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

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, accused the USA of playing "very unsafe games" with the Syrian Kurds. It lost 11,000 fighters in the process.

The Kurdish fighters say IS launched three suicide attacks against its positions in Raqqa.

Iran, another Assad ally, voiced opposition to any Turkish military operation in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Russia's security council on Tuesday.

And the former top American general overseeing operations in the Middle East said Trump's "decision to seemingly abandon our Kurdish partners could not come at a worse time". Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Trump has faced a barrage of criticism, including from close allies in Washington, for appearing to leave the Kurds to their fate.

The Kurdish-led SDF, which is holding thousands of ISIS fighters in several detention facilities in northeastern Syria, has warned that a Turkish incursion might lead to the resurgence of the extremists.

Around 2,000 of them are "foreign fighters", and Trump has assailed U.S. allies in Europe for not taking back their nationals. "The main security threat against Turkey is the PKK".

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