Rebel faction takes frontline role in Turkey offensive

Cihan Gunes a revenue assistant specialist who was killed by rockets and mortar shells fired by Kurdish forces

Turkey opened its offensive after U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Sunday with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan and withdrew U.S. troops who had been fighting alongside Kurdish forces.

"We will not stop no matter what anyone says", he said in a speech on Friday.

"Now there are threats coming from left and right, telling us to stop this", he added.

Trump has spawned much of the anxiety, starting with an abrupt announcement Sunday that 50 to 100 USA special forces along Syria's border with Turkey were being withdrawn ahead of the Turkish forces. "We will continue this fight until all the terrorists go south of the 32-kilometre (20 mile) limit from our border that Trump himself mentioned".

Turkey on Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria's territorial integrity.

Erdogan's pledge to keep up the offensive, which the United Nations says has displaced more than 100,000 people since it began on Wednesday, came as the US Treasury warned President Donald Trump was planning to activate "very powerful" sanctions on Ankara.

The White House on October 6 announced a surprise decision by Trump to withdraw US forces from areas along the Syrian border with Turkey, leaving Kurdish-led forces in the region vulnerable to an incursion by the Turkish armed forces.

Kurdish officials said five IS prisoners managed to escape from a Qamishli facility housing mostly foreign militants after shelling struck nearby.

A former Turkish diplomat who served Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 40 years said in a blog post on October 8 that the Syrian conflict is a "headache" for Turkey and has led to a serious loss of face for Turkey in the worldwide community. The exact locations have not been revealed, but some are reportedly close to the Turkish border.

"The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the security mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know USA forces are present", DeWalt added.

Buoyed by a night of steady advances, Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies pressed their advance into an area along the central section of the border that although Kurdish controlled, is mainly ethnic Arab.

The Syrian Kurdish-led administration said on Saturday that 191,069 people have been displaced as a result of the Turkish military operations.

Germany, also a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, said it was banning arms exports to Turkey and the head of the Arab League denounced the offensive.

Speaking as night fell Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said the SDF was still in control inside Ras al Ain, and fierce clashes were going on there.

Aid groups have warned of yet another humanitarian disaster in Syria if the offensive is not stopped.

He also said implementing the Adana pact would require the Syrian government to be in control of northeastern Syria - which it is not.

Five European countries along with Estonia demanded that Turkey end its offense while the USA, without condemning Turkey, said the Trump administration did not endorse the military action and warned of consequences.

He said the operations have been carried out near two Syrian villages by about 1,000 members of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army and hundreds of Turkish commando forces.

Mehmanparast, in an article published in Tehran, said "from the perspective of Iran, intervention of foreign forces in Syria are condemned, and Iran has emphasized that all the foreigners should leave Syria".

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has told his Turkish counterpart they should de-escalate the conflict before the situation becomes "irreparable". "We have very good relations with Turkey".

Esper announced that the USA was sending 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia, composed of two squadrons of fighter aircraft, three missile defense batteries and other units.

In its first big attack since the assault began, IS claimed responsibility for a deadly auto bomb in Qamishli, the largest city in the Kurdish-held area.



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