Published: Sun, October 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Turkey says Kurdish militia kills soldier in northeast Syria despite ceasefire

Turkey says Kurdish militia kills soldier in northeast Syria despite ceasefire

Ankara considers Kurdish servicemen as the terrorists and wants to create a "safe zone" buffer inside Syria.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, meanwhile, said U.S. troops were continuing their withdrawal from northern Syria, and that no USA ground troops would participate in enforcing the cease-fire that Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday in Ankara.

Erdogan also said he would discuss during his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week what to do about troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who have deployed to the border after striking a deal with the Kurds.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday promised to "crush the heads" of the Kurds in Syria if they don't fall back from the border's safe zone, according to reports.

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.

"The process has been continuing", he added, noting that there are Russian soldiers in Qamishli and Syrian government forces in different places.

He said he would discuss these areas with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when they meet on October 22 in the Russian city of Sochi.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is calling on Syrian forces to step away from the northeastern border of Syria so they can relocate thousands of refugees.

Turkey said the presence of Syrian troops in the border region complicated Ankara's plan to build a "safe zone" in Syria where it plans to resettle up to 2 million refugees now living in Turkey. That came two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing American troops from the border area.

Trump's October 6 order to remove USA troops in northeastern Syria, where they were cooperating with allied Kurdish forces who oppose Assad and had waged an extended battle against IS radicals, was seen by many as green-lighting the Turkish operation.

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But Raab said that alongside condemning the military action, "we also recognise some of the legitimate concerns that Turkey has".

The border town of Ras al-Ayn was emerging as an immediate test of whether the halt in violence can take hold.

Ankara's Ministry of National Defence said it was "completely abiding" by the ceasefire agreement and was co-ordinating with Washington to ease tensions.

A war monitor group says Turkey-backed Syrian fighters have clashed in several locations with Kurdish forces, in possible violations of a US -brokered cease-fire in northern Syria.

Also on Saturday, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that 41 suspected Islamic State militants were captured this week in areas seized from Kurdish forces, on top of the 195 his office announced a day earlier. However, Esper did say that the United States would carry out aerial reconnaissance of the zone.

On Saturday, a medical convoy was allowed into the town, evacuating almost 40 wounded.

Erdogan claimed the move was to "neutralize terror threats" and establish a "safe zone".

Khalil said it was not clear what would happen after his forces' withdrawal and the end of the five-day cease-fire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said sporadic shelling continued to hit Ras al-Ayn on Saturday. "I said that in my conversation with Mr. Trump".

Syrian Democratic Forces are now asking the United States to pressure Turkey to allow the safe passage of civilians out of the 120-kilometre-long area of border.

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