Turkey-led strikes kill 14 civilians in northeast Syria – World

The bombings led by Turkey on Friday killed 14 civilians in northeastern Syria, as the president of Turkey threatened to expand his assault and an agreement negotiated by the United States that already had hours seemed to crumble.

A war monitor said Turkish airstrikes and mortar fire by its Syrian representatives killed 14 civilians, apparently to stop the ceasefire announced Thursday night.

That agreement was intended to provide a five-day break for the evacuation of Kurdish fighters from the border town of Ras al-Ain and other areas that Turkey wants to control along its border with Syria.

"If the promises are kept until Tuesday night, the problem of the safe zone will be resolved," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

"If it fails, the operation … will begin at the end of 120 hours," he said.

The suspension seemed designed to help Turkey achieve its main territorial objectives without fighting, but its Syrian representatives continued to clash with Kurdish fighters on Friday.

The 14 civilians were killed in Turkish air strikes and mortar fire by allied Syrian fighters in and around the village of Bab al-Kheir, said the Syrian Human Rights Observatory.

The British-based war monitor said eight fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, the de facto army of the besieged Kurdish autonomous region, died in the attacks.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said Turkey was clearly violating the terms of the agreement reached during a visit to Ankara Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.


"Despite the agreement to stop the fight, air and artillery attacks continue to attack the positions of combatants, civil settlements and the hospital" in Ras al-Ain, he said.

Under the agreement, Kurdish forces must withdraw from a border strip 32 kilometers deep, clearing the way to a "safe zone" sought by Turkey.

The Kurd-led SDF had said they were ready to meet the ceasefire in the border territory between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad to the west.

Kurdish forces have resisted fiercely in Ras al-Ain, with a network of tunnels, berms and trenches that resisted the Turkish attack for a week.

On Friday afternoon, a AFP The correspondent on the Turkish side of the border saw a large column of black smoke leave Ras al Ain, although it was not clear what was burning.

The Turkish offensive was triggered by the announcement of US President Donald Trump of a US withdrawal from northern Syria, which led critics to accuse him of betraying the Kurdish allies of Washington.

So far, the Turkish army and its Syrian representatives, mostly former Arab and Turkoman rebels used as a ground force, have seized some 120 kilometers of territory along the border.

According to the Observatory, more than 500 people have died on both sides, including almost 100 civilians, while some 300,000 have been displaced.

Ankara believes that Kurdish forces are "terrorists" linked to Kurdish rebels within Turkey.

Turkish forces and their allies took control of half of Ras al-Ain on Thursday when his hospital was beaten, trapping patients and staff inside, said Abdel Rahman.

Kurdish authorities sent a medical team to rescue the injured, but they were prevented from entering the city, said Hassan Amin, hospital director at nearby Tal Tamr.

Seven wounded from around Ras al-Ain arrived at Tal Tamr, he said.

& # 39; War crimes & # 39;

Trump has been criticized in Washington for his handling of the crisis, by Democrats and from his own Republican Party.

The SDF fought alongside US forces to defeat the militant group of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, but Trump argued that it was no longer the role of the United States to ensure calm in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has special forces in Syria as part of the anti-IS coalition, complained that he learned of the US withdrawal by Twitter.

Thousands of IS fighters and their families are held in prisons and camps run by Kurds throughout northern Syria.

The possibility that thousands of the world's most radical jihadists will be in chaos caused by the invasion of Turkey is causing widespread alarm.

The Turkish offensive has also been widely criticized, with videos appearing online allegedly showing captured fighters and executed civilians.

The Kurds accused their rivals on Thursday of using banned weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus ammunition, a charge Ankara has denied.

Amnesty International accused Ankara forces and their representatives on Friday of "serious rapes and war crimes, summary killings and illegal attacks."

There was no immediate response from Ankara, who says he takes all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties.

Trump welcomed the ceasefire on Thursday, but then compared the belligerent parties with the children.
"Like two children in a lot, you have to let them fight and then you separate them," he said.

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1511567/turkey-led-strikes-kill-14-civilians-in-northeast-syria


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