Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said the country will not stop its operations in northern Syria, whatever some other countries may say, AFP reported. Ankara had on Wednesday launched a military offensive in northern Syria against the Kurdish Protection Units, which it regards as terrorists. It aims to keep Kurdish militants away from its borders.
Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul: “Now there are threats coming from left and right, telling us to stop this. We will not step back...we will continue this fight until all the terrorists go south of the 32-km limit from our border that Mr Trump [United States president] himself mentioned.”
Meanwhile, Turkish forces faced resistance from United States-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters on Friday, the third day of the fighting. Turkey claimed that it had captured several villages in the border region.
Two car bombs exploded outside a restaurant in the Kurdish-controlled urban center of Qamishli, killing three people. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The United Nations said that 100,000 people have already been displaced by Turkey’s invasion of Syria, Al Jazeera reported. Aid officials on Friday warned of “yet another humanitarian crisis” in the war-torn country. Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, said that seven civilians, including a boy, had been killed since the Turkish offensive began. In the city of Hasakah, around 400,000 people run the risk of foregoing access to clean water, Colville said.
“What is happening and what has been happening in the last 48 hours is extremely worrying, and I believe that we have there all the ingredients for unfortunately yet another humanitarian crisis in Syria,” International Committee of the Red Cross official Christian Cardon de Lichtbuer said.
US troops on the northern Syrian border came under artillery fire from Turkish positions on Friday, AFP reported quoting a Pentagon official. The official said that the US is prepared to meet aggression with “immediate defensive action”. The US military confirmed that there had been an explosion around 9 pm local time (11.30 pm Indian Standard Time) within a few hundred metres of its post near the town of Kobani. However, Navy captain Brook DeWalt said in a statement that there were no injuries, and American troops have not withdrawn from Kobani.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Washington is “greatly disappointed” by the Turkish offensive. He also claimed that the United States has not abandoned the Kurdish forces.
US President Donald Trump had said on Friday that he favours to mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds. On Wednesday, the US had said it did not give Turkey the go-ahead for the military offensive. Trump had also threatened to act against Turkey’s economy if it crosses the line.
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