Published: Mon, October 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Turkey's Erdogan vows to 'crush heads' of Kurdish fighters

Turkey's Erdogan vows to 'crush heads' of Kurdish fighters

New York Times: "As U.S. Leaves Allies in Syria, Kurdish Commander Struggles With Fallout" - "As United States troops continued their withdrawal from Syria on Sunday, a line of cars carried their routed former allies, terrified civilians and dead bodies out of a pulverized border town that had been besieged by Turkish forces for more than a week".

Both sides accuse each other of repeatedly violating the three-day old cease-fire.

Stressing that Turkey would enjoy YPG/PKK's withdrawal from the safe-zone territory, Erdogan said Ankara would take the safe-zone area under protection, adding: "We studied well, all projects are ready".

Syrian Kurds flee the countryside of the northeastern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, toward the west to the town of Tal Tamr on October 19, 2019.

Turkey's defense ministry says it has confirmed that Kurdish forces have begun withdrawing from northern Syria.

The Turkish leader is due to hold talks next week with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

But Turkish-backed Syrian rebels who took control of most of Ras al-Ain last week amid a Turkish offensive into northeast Syria launched on October 9 disputed that claim, saying the Kurdish forces were still entrenched in almost thirty percent of the area, the Reuters news agency reported.

A senior Turkish official later dismissed the accusations on Saturday, saying these were an attempt to sabotage the agreement between Ankara and Washington, and that Turkey fully supported the deal.

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On Saturday the SDF urged US Vice-President Mike Pence, who helped to broker the temporary ceasefire, to pressure Turkey to allow the passage of civilians.

Many said they were repulsed by Mr Trump's decision to host an worldwide summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's admission - later withdrawn - that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) alleges that deliveries of humanitarian aid have also been prevented from entering Ras Al-Ain.

The monitor group said on Friday that the civilian death toll from the Turkish operation had now risen to 86.

Between 160,000 and 300,000 people have reportedly fled their homes since the offensive started 10 days ago.

The deal requires the SDF - the de facto army of Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria - to pull out of the border zone extending 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep into Syrian territory, the length of which is not clear.

It remains unclear whether Kurdish fighters will withdraw from that vast area where many Kurdish people live. The official said the President favors this concept.

Turkey also plans to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees, now on its territory, in the buffer zone but critics warned the move could trigger the ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population. Ankara is seeking to set up the zone as a buffer as it regards the YPG, the main component of the SDF, as a terrorist group because of its links to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey.

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