Damascus/ Ankara, Oct 13: Under a deal with the Syrian Kurds, Syrian government troops is being deployed to the towns near the Turkish border to halt the heavy fighting as Turkey intensified its offensive against the Kurdish fighters on the fifth day in northern Syria.
Areas under control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have come under heavy bombardment from Turkey and SDF chief had intimated to US that they will have to look up to Russia and Assad forces for help in the absence of US assistance in the event of an attack from Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that President Donald Trump has ordered the remaining US forces out of northern Syria.
“We have American forces likely caught between two opposing, advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation. I spoke with the President last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria,” Esper said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Which is where most of our forces are.”
Turkish attack couples with US troops withdrawal is set to reverse gains against ISIS.
Esper also said that “in the last 24 hours” the US had learned that America’s primary ally in the fight against ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, were “looking to cut a deal” with the Syrian regime and their Russian backers in order to “counter attack against the Turks in the north.”
“In the last 24 hours, we learned that they are likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned – and to the west,” Esper said.
On Sunday afternoon, Syrian state media said units from President Bashar al-Assad’s army were moving north to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”.
Trump tweeted: “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change … Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”
More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a result of the fighting, the United Nations said on Sunday.
Turkish media reported on Sunday that ‘Operation Peace Spring’, as it has been dubbed by Ankara, intensified particularly around the strategic border city of Ras al-Ayn.
A new convoy of tanks and heavy artillery was also sent to Akcakale, which sits opposite Tal Abyad on the Turkish side of the border.
In response, the YPG fired around 300 projectiles into Turkish territory, killing 17 civilians.