Published: Mon, October 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Vladimir Putin Doesn't Think Turkey Can Control ISIS Fighters in Syria

Vladimir Putin Doesn't Think Turkey Can Control ISIS Fighters in Syria

And the feeling of abandonment among some Kurds here is palpable.

"We have not abandoned the Kurds", Mr Esper said.

The EU has stepped up contacts with Turkey to spell out concerns about the military operation. "We pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation", Esper said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said U.S. forces near the town of Kobane - which were not included in the USA withdrawal - had come under Turkish artillery fire on Friday evening. "United States forces have not withdrawn from Kobani", it said. Turkey began its moves against the Kurds in Syria earlier this week, after President Trump announced a pullback of USA forces.

Mr Trump, whose order to pull back United States troops from the border this week effectively triggered the invasion, said Washington would now seek to broker a truce.

The SDF is led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is considered a "terrorist" group by Turkey.

Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute Washington, D.C., said in an opinion piece published in the New York Post that "the PKK has prosecuted a long war against the Turkish Republic, resulting in the death of some 40,000 people". Although US troops had no intention of firing on Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, the Pentagon noted they had the right to defend themselves.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper for his part "strongly encouraged Turkey to discontinue actions in north-eastern Syria" as a prelude to negotiations, a Pentagon statement said.

"We can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to", Mnuchin said in a briefing at the White House.

Milley said leaders of the Kurdish force have told some of their fighters to move north to defend what they consider to be their territory.

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An analysis of Turkey's shifting Syrian policy by Gonul Tol, the founding director of The Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies said what Turkey is doing in Syria today is linked to Turkey's internal politics.

Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn, according to Turkey's Defense Ministry and a war monitor group.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that new sanctions were being prepared and would be imposed on Ankara should Turkey overstep in Syria following a warning by Trump that it should conduct its assault in a "humane" manner.

The U.N. says that at least seven civilians have been killed in the first two days of the Turkish operation. Turkey has said that pact was never implemented.

"For now, the SNA appears to be operating under the tight control of the Turkish military and Ankara is using them as the primary force", he told AFP.

He said the air and ground operations, including strikes by fighter jets and drones, 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. "Will they go deeper into Syria, to areas that no one controls, and then move to other countries of the region via Iran?"

"Naturally there's a considerable amount of anxiety" among Kurdish fighters, said Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Four people were said to have been killed in a suspected jihadist auto bomb in the centre of the northern Syrian city of Qamishli.

Ten Turkish civilians were killed in cross-border shelling on Friday, while four of Turkey's soldiers died as Ankara pressed on with its offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria.

The fighting was ongoing as the Kurdish fighters sought to reverse the Turkish advance into the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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