Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday (October 9th) announced the start of a new military operation against the Kurdish militia of the People's Protection Units (YPG) in northeastern Syria. Turkey says it wants to eliminate "a terrorist corridor". The European Union demands the end of the offensive, France condemns "very firmly". A dozen deaths have already been recorded on the Kurdish side, who nevertheless claim to have "pushed back" the Turks in their land maneuver.
"The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army (Syrian rebels backed by Ankara) have started Operation 'Source of Peace' in northern Syria," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter. The Turkish President announced on Wednesday afternoon the beginning of a new military operation against the Kurdish militia of the People's Protection Units (YPG). An organization supported by Western countries, but Ankara's pet peeve.
According to him, this operation is aimed at "YPG and Daesh terrorists (Islamic acronym for the Islamic State)" and aims to set up a "security zone" in northeastern Syria. "The security zone we are going to create will allow the return of Syrian refugees to their country," he added.
" Intensive bombardments " and beginning of the terrestrial phase
At the same time, a CNN Türk journalist reported several loud explosions in Ras al-Ain, northern Syria, adding that planes had flown over the border crossing evacuated Monday by US special forces, who were protecting here their Kurdish allies in the region. Turkish "air strikes" in northern Syria have also been reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). An area where a correspondent of Agence France Presse (AFP) could hear a loud explosion and see smoke.
There have been "intensive bombings of Turkish planes on military positions and villages of civilians" in Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ain, Qamichli or Ain Issa, announced on Twitter the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). At least 15 people, including 8 civilians, were killed, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). Among the victims, two died in artillery fire against the city of Qamichli, a predominantly Kurdish town, said the OSDH. "Thousands" have fled the Ankara air strikes targeting areas of northern Syria on the border with Turkey, the OSDH added.
"Our heroic armed forces and the Syrian National Army (Syrian rebels supported by Ankara) have begun the ground phase of the operation," Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement in the evening. The spokesman of a group of Syrian rebels participating in the offensive told Agence France Presse (AFP) that this ground offensive began Wednesday evening towards the town of Tal Abyad, controlled by the militia units People's Protection (YPG) in northeastern Syria. "The Turkish forces' ground offensive has been repelled by FDS fighters" in the Tal Abyad region, said FDS spokesman Mustefa Bali on Twitter.
This offensive, which Turkey has been threatening for several months to launch, is the third that Ankara has led in Syria since 2016. US President Donald Trump seemed to give the green light Sunday to such an operation before returning to his remarks and ensure that the United States had "not abandoned the Kurds" , which played a crucial role in the Islamic State's military defeat. But Donald Trump said Wednesday not to endorse the Turkish offensive. "The United States does not approve of this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that it was a bad idea," said the president in a statement. Hoping that Recep Tayyip Erdogan will act "rationally" .
If Westerners praise the YPG's role in the battle against ISIS, Ankara regards these Kurdish fighters as a "terrorist" group and a threat to its security because of its links with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which a guerrilla on Turkish soil.
Shortly before the announcement of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had "called on his Turkish partners to think carefully about the situation in order to avoid undermining the joint efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis , " according to a statement , published after a telephone interview between the two presidents.
France seizes the United Nations Security Council
The European Union (EU) reacted soon after the start of operations on Wednesday. The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker demanded the end of the offensive. "Turkey must stop the ongoing military operation. It will not give a result. And if Turkey's plan is to create a safe area, do not wait for EU funding , "he told the European Parliament in Brussels.
"France, Germany and the United Kingdom are finalizing a joint declaration that will be extremely clear on the fact that we strongly and strongly condemn what is reported," said French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. "We are seizing the UN Security Council," she added. "The unilateral operation launched by Turkey in Syria must stop," also reacted on his Twitter account the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Claude Le Drian.
The German government has "strongly condemned" the Turkish offensive, which "may further destabilize the region and cause a resurgence" of the Islamic State group. "We urge Turkey to end its offensive and defend its security interests peacefully," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.
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