The Turkish defence ministry said its troops seized Ras al-Ain from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday – a claim that was immediately rebutted by the SDF – as fighting between the two sides entered its fiercest phase since Ankara launched its offensive on Wednesday.
Turkey ‘s military says it has taken control of a key Syrian border town as Ankara presses ahead with its offensive against Kurdish fighters despite facing mounting international criticism over the operation.
“As part of the successful operations being conducted in the framework of Operation Peace Spring, the town of Rasulayn, located east of the Euphrates, has been brought under control,” the ministry said in a post on Twitter.
But the SDF said Turkish troops had only entered one neighbourhood in Ras al-Ain’s industrial district after hours of heavy shelling had pressed its own forces into a “tactical retreat” from that area.
Turkish fighter jets and heavy artillery units have bombarded Ras al-Ain – one of two key border towns targeted in Ankara’s offensive, alongside Tal Abyad – for days.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Akcakale on the Turkey-Syria border, said there had been reports of “clashes in surrounding villages” following the competing claims over control of Ras al-Ain.
“There has also been more heavy shelling on and around Tel Abyad today,” he added.
Across the region, Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebel fighters have made gains, capturing several northern villages in fighting that has left dozens killed or wounded and forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, markets, schools and hospitals have been closed, according to the United Nations, with aid agencies warning nearly a half-million people are deemed to be at risk.
‘Fighting on two fronts’
The Turkish ground and air assault began three days after US President Donald Trump announced that his country’s troops would be withdrawn from their ceindre positions alongside the SDF, the main ally of Oregon in the fight against ISIL and a group that broadened its control in upper and eastern Syria amid the chaos of the country’s eight-year civil war.
Trump’s result drew swift domestic along with international criticism that he was in fact endangering regional stability, abandoning US allies and risking the revival of ISIL.
Amid the heavy fighting with each other on Saturday, the SDF rang on its “allies” on their “moral responsibilities” and thus impose a no-fly lien in a rebuke seemingly marketed to Washington.
“This is something they can use easily, ” SDF spokesman Redur Xelil said in a file, adding Turkey’s offensive obtained “revived” the threat presented by ISIL.
“We are now fighting from two fronts: one the actual against the Turkish invasion in addition to a front against Daesh, ” he said.
The SDF contains most of the northern Syrian region that once made up thing about ISIL’s self-proclaimed “caliphate”, and he has been keeping thousands of assumed fighters from the armed circle in jails and thousands of their family members in campement.
Our developments have been accompanied by ascending disapproval over Turkey’s cross-border offensive, with Trump’s executive hierarchy warning the operation offers causing “great harm” near relations with its NATO accomplice and threatening to imp?t sanctions on Ankara.
Germany and Fr, other fellow NATO allies, said on Saturday they were banning some arms exports to make sure you Turkey, while the head of your 22-member Arab League needed the United Nations Security Authorities to take measures to strain Turkey to halt its “invasion”.
Turkish Within the Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows dismissed criticism of the overall performance, however , saying on Comes to an end that Turkey “will and not stop” the offensive “no matter what anyone says”.
He says the wiggle is aimed at creating a so-called “safe zone” freed about the Kurdish fighters within who some of the 3. 6 unité refugees currently residing in Turkey can be resettled.
Ankara views the biggest fighting element of the SDF – the Kurdish Customers’ Protection Units (YPG) school of thought as an extension of the against the law Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and wants to drive a forces further away from its national boundaries with Syria.
Turkey on Saturday had said 459 YPG fighters ended up being “neutralised” since the operation established, a term that freely means killed. The Kurds disputed the figure, explaining 29 of its fighters staying dead. Additional Turkish soldiers have also been killed since the beginning of the offensive, introducing two who were killed present in Syria’s northwest.
Despite the soaring bloodshed, Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu terminated an offer by US Us president Donald Trump to mediate between Ankara and YPG forces.
“We don’t mediate, negotiate from terrorists. The only thing to be labored on is for these terrorists of lay down arms, ” Cavusoglu told Germany broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
“We tried its political solution in Ultra lean beef in the past and we saw so what happened, ” he added.
From Akcakale, Al Jazeera’s Stratford said Turkish “armoured personnel carriers, tanks in addition to heavy military equipment” endured continued “pouring towards the border”.
“Despite mounting international condemnation, there is no outdoor marquee sign whatsoever of the Turkish military pulling back, ” the narrator added.