Kurds reach deal with Syria to stop Turkish offensive

Damascus, Oct 14: Kurdish authorities announced that have reached a deal with the Syrian government, under which the Syrian Arab Army was set to be deployed on the country’s northeastern border to stem the offensive launched by Turkey, that has caused many civilian casualties and the escape of hundreds of Islamic State (IS) militants.

The self-proclaimed Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (often referred to as Rojava) said in a statement released through Facebook on Sunday that the troops would “support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to prevent this aggression” from Turkey and “liberate” the areas that have already been conquered by Ankara’s troops, such as the border towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad, Efe news reported.

Earlier on Sunday, Syrian state media had announced a movement of troops to the north of the country against the “Turkish aggression” and a military source confirmed to Efe news that the Army was targeting the towns of Manbij and Ayn Issa, located in the east and west of the Euphrates, respectively, near the Turkish border.

At least 785 foreigners affiliated with the IS have escaped from a detention camp in Ayn Issa on Sunday amid Turkish attacks, the Kurdish authorities said.

According to a Rojava statement, a group of “mercenaries from Turkey”, an apparent reference to Syrian rebels backed by Ankara, attacked the facility with air support from Turkish aviation as IS members rioted and opened the camp’s gates to escape.

The Kurdish authorities also said that they were forced to reduce the number of SDF troops guarding 12,000 suspected IS fighters and around 70,000 of their relatives captured in the territory throughout the civil conflict.

Meanwhile, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Sunday confirmed that several families of IS members escaped from the Ayn Issa camp after Kurdish forces withdrew amid the instability caused by the current offensive.

On Sunday, Turkish operations focused on the border town of Tal Abyad; the army announced having taken the centre of the town on the other side of the border of the Turkish municipality of Akcakale, according to the official Turkish news agency Anadolu.

On the other hand, the Syrian armed groups fighting on the Turkish side claimed through the messaging app Telegram that they took control of the border crossing of Tal Abyad, after having conquered that of Ras al-Ayn the day before.

Ankara wants to establish a “security zone” along its border with a width of 30 km and a length of 480 km from the Euphrates to the eastern end of Syria to isolate itself from Kurdish militias considered terrorist groups by the Turkish government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that he would continue the offensive until he achieved his goal, despite international criticism and pressure, and said he had 109 square km of that area under his control.

According to the SOHR, Turkey already controls 220 km of territory, from the west of Tal Abyad to the west of Ras al-Ayn, as well as the M4 road that connects the province of Al-Hasakah with Aleppo, at both ends of the country’s north.

The director of health for the KRC, which operates solely in the territories controlled by the Kurds, Sherwan Bery, told Efe news that 11 people were killed and 74 were injured by a Turkish attack on a convoy.

Kurdish news agency Hawar reported that its correspondent Saad Ahmed was killed in the attack and seven other journalists were injured.

The SDF confirmed the attack and said that civilians and some journalists from different media outlets were travelling in the convoy heading to Ras al-Ayn, where civilians were going to express their opposition to the Turkish intervention. The group was accompanied by the Kurdish Internal Security Forces, known as Asayish.


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