Published: Sun, October 20, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Turkish soldier killed in clashes with Kurdish forces despite cease-fire

Turkish soldier killed in clashes with Kurdish forces despite cease-fire

In this image provided by Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Red Crescent vehicles arrive to deliver aid to Syrians in Ras Al-Ayn, Syria, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

That brought the Turkish military's death toll to seven soldiers since it launched its offensive against Kurdish-led fighters in northeast Syria on October 9.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would press on with its offensive and "crush the heads" of Kurdish fighters if the deal on the withdrawal was not fully implemented.

SDF had said they would abide with the terms of the ceasefire but did not commit to any pull-out.

Abandoned by their American allies, the Kurds - with Russia's mediation - invited Damascus to send troops into northeastern Syria as protection from Turkish forces.

Erdogan has said the Kurdish fighters must withdraw from a far larger length of the border from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border - more than 440 kilometres (260 miles) - or else the Turkish offensive will resume on Tuesday.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Turkish troops and their allied Syrian fighters have continued their offensives the past 24 hours, forcing its fighters to retaliation.

Mr. Kalin said Turkey was counting on the use its leverage over Kurdish forces to enforce a smooth withdrawal.

"It's weird to think that we'd violate an agreement that we like", the official said, adding that Turkey got "everything it wanted" with the deal.

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A local Syrian official says Kurdish fighters and civilians have started evacuating the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn and that the pullout is still ongoing.

Syrian state media said Turkish-backed fighters also made an "infiltration attempt" south of Ras al-Ayn but were repelled in clashes with the Syrian government military that had just moved into the area. "20 harassments/violations were committed by PKK/YPG terrorists", it said.

The Observatory said Saturday that Turkey-backed Syrian fighters have prevented a medical convoy from reaching Ras al-Ayn.

The Kurdish-led forces in Syria, which only had an indirect role in shaping the cease-fire, said it will abide by the halt in fighting.

A pull-back would be a major boost to the deal.

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. Abandoned by their allies, the Kurds then turned to Russian Federation and secured an agreement for Syrian government forces to deploy in the northeast last week.

The border town of Kobani also stands between Turkish-controlled Syrian territories to the west and Kurdish-held eastern Syria.

Many said they were repulsed by Mr Trump's decision to host an global summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's admission - later withdrawn - that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Even after the cease-fire was announced, the flow of injured and dead to her hospital hadn't stopped, she said.

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