Pentagon Urges Turkey to Halt Incursion Into Syria

Iranian armed forces members march during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran Ir

Pentagon Urges Turkey to Halt Incursion Into Syria

An "impulsive" decision by Turkey to invade northern Syria will further destabilize a region already caught up in civil war, the USA defense secretary said on Friday, arguing that the withdrawal of United States troops from the border does not mean America has abandoned its Syrian Kurdish allies.

"Hundreds of thousands of refugees from the region might choose to go back, but it won't be millions", he said.

Turkish troops sent airstrikes and artillery before mounting a cross-border ground operation that forced thousands of people to flee Ras al-Ain.

The Kurdish militia has fired dozens of mortars into border towns inside Turkey in the past two days, according to officials on the Turkish side. Some made victory signs, shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and waving Syrian rebel flags as they advanced toward Ras al Ain.

US President Donald Trump, whose actions to pull out troops in northeast Syria preceded Turkey's attack, was criticized over his plans including the possibility of risky militants finding an opportunity to run escape.

According to the Observatory, a total of at least 10 civilians and 29 SDF fighters have been killed since the start of the offensive.

"With all of that being said, we like the Kurds", Trump said.

Kotey, who has a Ghanaian father and a Cypriot mother, was captured along with Elsheikh by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He said another raid in September uncovered hand grenades and the body of a woman who was killed by other detainees and has yet to be identified.

"I've heard him say it before: there's nothing more hard in any part of his job than that role that he has to play as commander in chief", she said.

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In statements Thursday, Trump said that options for dealing with the situation included sending in "thousands" of American forces, a proposal he rejected; imposing severe economic sanctions on Turkey; or providing U.S. mediation between Turkey and the Kurds.


On Friday morning, plumes of black smoke billowed from the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad as Turkey continued bombarding the area.

The International Rescue Committee helps organization said that 64 000 people had already reportedly fled their homes.

Erdogan also said that some 370,000 refugees have returned to the northwestern Syrian cities of Afrin and Jarablus.

Milley said leaders of the Kurdish force have told some of their fighters to move north to defend what they consider to be their territory.

The order came as the administration stepped up its criticism of Turkey's military operation against US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters, amid harsh criticism of Trump's failure to prevent the incursion. It says it has killed 277 militants in total.

Three more soldiers were injured in the "operation region", the defence ministry added.

Overnight, clashes erupted along the entire 400 km stretch of border from Ain Diwar at the Iraqi frontier to Kobani. Four people were said to have been killed in a suspected jihadist vehicle bomb in the centre of the northern Syrian city of Qamishli.

The Kurds, considered terrorists by Turkey, have played the leading role in ground combat, under U.S. air protection, against the Islamic State in Syria, also known as ISIS.

Hundreds of kilometers further east along the frontier, a auto bomb blew up outside a restaurant in Qamishli as the city came under fierce Turkish shelling.

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The Turkish Defense Ministry said the offensive was progressing "successfully as planned". Kurdish forces responded with fire after Turkey began an offensive into Syria.

The military source said he believes numerous captured Islamic State prisoners "will be free in the coming days and weeks".

"We are extremely anxious about the well-being of the people held in the camp", Onus said.

"Discussion is underway with the relevant bodies and organisations to find a solution or alternative location to move the camp to", it said.

"We have not abandoned the Kurds", Mr Esper said.

Later, he told reporters that the third one would be his preferred option. "We are possibly going to do something very, very tough with respect to sanctions and other financial things", Trump said.

France's European affairs minister said Paris wanted next week's EU summit to specifically discuss sanctions over Turkey's offensive in northern Syria.

In a tweet, she called for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria".

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