Published: Sun, October 13, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Thousands in Europe march against Turkey's Syria offensive

Thousands in Europe march against Turkey's Syria offensive

After the Islamic State group swept across the region in 2014, the Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mounted a fierce defence of their heartland and became the US-led coalition's main partner on the ground.

On Friday, the Pentagon said US troops came under artillery fire from Turkish emplacements though none of its soldiers were wounded near the Syrian border town of Kobani, 60 km (37 miles) west of the main area of conflict.

They watched helplessly as Turkish jets this week killed several of their former neighbors and their 70-year-old grandfather fled his home after Turkey began its cross-border offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia.

Members of the Turkish-backed Syrian Free Army enter Syria's Rasulayn clear the town on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said Turkey's incursion was causing "great harm" in relations with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

In warning Turkey on Friday following the shelling, the Department of Defense appeared to reject Ankara's claims that its soldiers accidentally launched shells which fell just a few hundred meters from an American observation post in northern Syria.

Iraq, the current president of the League, said the offensive "will exacerbate humanitarian crises, increase the suffering of the Syrian people and strengthen the ability of terrorists to reorganize their remnants".

The Netherlands and Norway have also frozen their arms sales to Turkey in response.

Top Pentagon officials stressed the need for Turkey to avoid doing anything to endanger US forces inside Syria, which numbered about 1,000 before the incursion.

Saudi State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir said the Kingdom condemns the Turkish incursion in northeastern Syria and demands an immediate end to the military operations.

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"Concerns remain grave around the risks facing thousands of vulnerable displaced persons, including women and children in various (displacement) camps", it said, pointing to Al-Hol, a camp holding relatives of IS suspects that lies outside the area targeted by Turkey.

A day earlier, unknown people wrote slogans on the walls of the Turkish embassy condemning the military operation and calling President Recep Erdogan a "criminal".

"The absence of United States forces could cause them to turn to Damascus for assistance", said Syria expert Samuel Ramani.

Within days Turkey began an offensive against the YPG, which it says is a terrorist group backing Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump had authorised officials to draft what he called "very significant" new economic sanctions against Turkey.

Anadolu news agency said Saturday the forces have arrived at the M-4 highway that connects the Syrian towns of Manbij and Qamishli. It did not say if any Daesh prisoners there had escaped.

"This is something they can do easily", SDF spokesman Redur Xelil said in a statement, adding Turkey's offensive had "revived" the threat posed by ISIL.

Seventy-four Kurdish-led fighters, 49 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and 30 civilians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Observatory.

The SDF lost 11,000 fighters in the protracted US-led campaign against IS before finally overrunning IS's self-proclaimed "caliphate" in March.

On Friday, a number of artillery rounds landed a few hundred yards from a USA observation post near the Kurdish-controlled city of Kobani, the Pentagon said.

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