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Over 100 killed as Turkey military offensive in Syria continue for 3rd day

Turkey began military operation after the US announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region

Thursday October 10, 2019 5:58 PM, ummid.com and Agencies

Turkey Syria News

Ankara/Damascus: Heavy clashes between advancing Turkish forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) soldiers are reported from Syrian border villages as Turkish military offensive in its neighbouring country enters its third day.

"Fierce clashes are continuing in the villages that (Turkish forces) are trying to enter," Marvan Qamishlo, an SDF media official, said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier said that as many as 109 were killed since Ankara launched the offensive into Syria Tuesday.

Erdogan said the Turkish military offensive is aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a "safe zone" so millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.

International Condemnation

The move came after the US announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the ISIS terror group, without US military support.

However, he is facing international condemnation for the unilateral military action in Syria.

"The operation is a “threat to regional security” and undermines international efforts in combating Daesh. It is a “blatant violation of the unity, independence, and sovereignty of Syrian territories,” Saudi Foreign Ministry said while condemning the Turkish attack on Syrian territory.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also condemned the offensive, saying it represented a dangerous development and a blatant and unacceptable aggression against the sovereignty of an Arab state.

The Bahrain and Lebanese foreign ministries too condemned the Turkish offensive, saying it supports the call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council to take a unified Arab stand toward the aggression.

India too joined the world and slammed Turkey's unilateral military offensive in northeast Syria, saying it can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism.

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said, "We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in north-east Syria."

It said that Turkey's action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress.

"Peace Spring"

The operation dubbed "Peace Spring" by the Turkish government, began on Tuesday with air raids and shelling while a ground offensive, involving Turkish soldiers and allied Syrian rebels, began at 11.30 p.m. Wednesday. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay tweeted in early Thursday morning that the operation was going ahead as planned.

"As the operation is ongoing successfully, basic priority is not to harm the civilians."

The country's Defence Ministry said the Army had destroyed 181 targets belonging to Kurdish forces, mainly ammunition dumps, on the first day of the operation.

At least 60 Turkish warplanes took part in the offensive, striking targets 30 m into Syrian territory in line with Ankara's goal to secure what it calls a "safe zone" in northern Syria. Turkish authorities want the "safe zone" to extend some 32 km into northern Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.

Kurdish Statelet

As well as using the area to re-home some of the roughly 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the government wants to avoid the creation of a Kurdish statelet along its border.

Northeastern Syria, a Kurdish majority region, is currently under the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a key US ally in the years-long fight against the IS. But Ankara views the YPG as indistinguishable from their more habitual enemies, the Kurdistan's Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.

In response to the Turkish incursion into northern Syria, the YPG fired mortar rounds into Turkish towns across the border and attacked Turkish-backed factions of the Free Syrian Army - recently rebranded as the Syrian National Army - Tel Rifat and Jarablus.

Kino Gabriel, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella organisation dominated by the YPG, told Efe news that a "tense calm" reigned over the border region on Thursday.

Refuting Erdogan's cliams on death toll,the SDF said late Wednesday that eight people, including five civilians, had been killed by the Turkish military operation.

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