Turkish-Kurdish cease-fire on edge as one soldier is killed

20 Octobre, 2019, 14:53 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Participants of a Kurdish demonstration against the Turkish military offensive in Northern Syria demonstrate in Cologne Germant Saturday Oct.19 2019

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on October 22.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - an alliance primarily led by Kurdish militias - had been important allies in the fight against ISIS, despite ties to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and 29 other nations.

Erdogan, who has backed rebels fighting to oust Assad, has said Turkey has no problem with Syrian government forces deploying near the border.

Ankara's long-declared plan was to drive the militia 30-35 km away from the border and establish there a safe zone which would stretch all along the border from the Euphrates River to Iraq in the east. Most of those refugees fled Syria's government. But a defense official later clarified the statement should have read "YPG", a Kurdish self-defense force Turkey says is part of a separatist Kurdish terrorist group which has also helped the United States in its counter-ISIS operations.

34 percent said they want them to return if the conflict continues.

In return, the USA will not impose further sanctions on Turkey and remove the ones imposed last week, although there is still a risk that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators will press ahead with new sanctions. "No U.S. ground forces will participate in the enforcement of this safe zone, however, we will remain in communication with both Turkey and the SDF". It cited a listing of Kurdish assaults round and throughout the border.

Activists say a medical convoy including the Syrian and Kurdish Red Crescent has entered the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, which has been besieged for days by Turkish-led forces, and it delivered aid and evacuated wounded.

"Despite this, terrorists. carried out a total of 14 attacks in the last 36 hours", it said, using its usual term for Kurdish fighters.

The Turkish forces are seen in Tal Abyad in northern Syria, Oct. 18, 2019. "20 harassments/violations were committed by PKK/YPG terrorists", it said.

"The force protection of our service members remains our top priority and, as always, USA forces will defend themselves from any threat as we complete our withdrawal from the area", Esper told reporters.

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Washington brokered a five-day cease-fire late Thursday meant to slow down a Turkish offensive on the Kurdish-held region across the border.

But U.S. officials say the agreement pertains to the smaller section between the two towns.

And in its pursuit of these fighters there are now fears that Turkey's invasion could end up ethnically cleansing the Kurdish population from its border with northern Syria. "We only halt our operations", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said today.

A member of the Syrian Kurdish force rebuffed calls for a pullback from border towns, calling the USA deal with Turkey an "insult" that would in "no way" work.

A partial evacuation took place Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human puts the death toll higher, saying 86 people have been killed, including 21 children.

Turkish officials denied violating the cease-fire or impeding the fighters' withdrawal, blaming the continued violence on the Kurds.

If Kurdish fighters then pull back from the 120-kilometer border area, it is uncertain what the arrangement would be along the rest of the northeastern border, most of which remains exclusively in the hands of Kurdish-led fighters.

On Saturday, the truce was holding along the border, with just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. "We do this through the Russians", he said.

Turkish forces and their proxies had captured 196 IS prisoners in Syria on Friday, and they were being locked in a "safe place" in Syria.

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