Turkish Invasion Into Northern Syria: Three Days Gone - What's Happened?
SYRIA. Friday October 11th, 2019. After three days of fighting along the border between Turkey and Syria, the Kurds seem to have suffered the worst of it.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 60,000 people have fled border cities like Al-Darbasiyah, and Ras Al-Ain as the massive Turkish invasion began the night of Monday the 7th.
This morning a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported that 22 SDF fighters have been killed during the Turkish assault.
Contrastingly in Ankara, the Defense Minister reported that 342 Kurdish fighters had been killed. President Erdogan has said the operation is aimed at creating a 300 mile safe zone in which to deposit at least 1 million refugees from the Syrian Civil War that have been living in Turkey.
The U.S., who maintained a garrison of around 1,000 troops in Syrian Kurdistan, withdrew them to another part of the country after Turkey made it plain this operation was necessary to return at least some of the 3.6 million Syrians living as refugees in Anatolia.
Mustafa Al-Ali, head of the SDF press office released CCTV camera footage on his Twitter account of one of the detention centers where SDF forces held ISIL fighters prisoner. He warns that the Turkish destabilization could lead to ISIL regrouping in the aftermath of the attack.
So far, Kurdish SDF forces manned the prisons but have since been called away to defend Kurdish-occupied towns and cities against the Turkish military advance.
Major regional players such as Iran, the Gulf States, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have condemned the invasion on various grounds such as human rights violations, regional destabilization, and the risk of allowing ISIL fighters in captivity a chance to regroup.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said as much during a recent televised visit to Turkmenistan.
"I'm not sure whether the Turkish army will be able to take this under control - and how soon," adding later, "This is a real threat to us."
Europe at large refused to repatriate some 2,000 ISIL fighters who joined the terrorist state from European nations that sat jailed in Kurdish prisons for several years.
President Trump has been very outspoken about the situation in Northern Syria, having had a telephone call with Turkish President Erdogan the Sunday before operations commenced.
Taking a very anti-interventionist stance, he withdrew troops from the north but continues to release several Tweets regarding his oversight of the situation.
He has warned Turkey several times that their operation must remain within the parameters set at the beginning and threatened “to totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy if they strayed, saying “if he [Erdogan] does it unfairly, he is going to pay a very big economic price”.
While Trump has received sharp criticism from both sides of the isle, he has maintained his stance, reminding his opponents to keep focused on the “big picture” of drawing down the U.S. presence in the Middle-East rather than expanding it, and not continuing to fight “stupid endless wars”.
Assad and the Kurds
While the SDF Commander-in-Chief said the possibility of holding talks with Syrian President Assad was “one of the options that we have on the table,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad reached out through a pro-government newspaper to the Kurdish SDF, asking them to rejoin the government side rather than “plunge into the abyss”.
"The homeland welcomes all its sons and Damascus will solve all Syrian problems in a positive way, away from violence. We advise those who have gone astray to return to the nation, because the nation is their final destiny," he said, vowing to "defend all Syrian territory".
However much to the contrary, a Thursday statement by Assad ruled out any dialogue between his regime and the Kurdish SDF. He said that in their pursuit of a separatist agenda, they gave Turkey a pretext for invasion.
The same Faisal Maqdad, who earlier advised “those who have gone astray to return to the nation” said on Thursday that "armed groups had betrayed their country and committed crimes against it".
"We won't accept any dialogue or talk with those who had become hostages to foreign forces ... There won't be any foothold for the agents of Washington on Syrian territory," Maqdad told reporters, referring to the United States sale of arms to the Kurdish SDF during the fight against ISIL.