On Syria, Trump is playing the lousy cards Obama dealt him

Monday, 21 Oct, 2019

The truce put Turkey's military operation on "pause" until later this week, but sporadic clashes have erupted daily and there have also been occasional shelling, particularly around Ras al-Ain, where the SDF have been encircled by Turkish-led forces.

The ministry said that it considers these unfounded claims as part of a "smear campaign" against "our struggle with the terrorism threat that originates from Syria and targets our national security", the statement said.

Both sides accuse each other of repeatedly violating the three-day-old ceasefire.

He said that the Kurdish-led force was preparing to conduct that evacuation Sunday, if there were no further delays.

However, Erdogan warned on Saturday that Turkey would resume the offensive and "crush the heads of terrorists" if the agreement faltered, with Turkey insisting it is Washington's duty to ensure the withdrawal of the YPG.

Dozens of fighters in military attire left on pickups, passing by checkpoints manned by Ankara-allied Syrian fighters, he said. "It seems that under this deal they want to commit more massacres", he said.

Kurdish commander Normal Mazlum Kobane stated he is attempting to tug his forces again from Ras al-Ain, however Turkey shouldn't be permitting it.

These accusations are backed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, which notes that a medical convoy has been waiting outside the town since Friday.

And some fighters have vowed not to withdraw at all, dismissing the deal as a betrayal by the US, whose soldiers they have fought alongside against the IS.

US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell attacked President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria as "a strategic nightmare" that will help Washington's foes and hurt its allies.

USA forces were previously deployed in parts of northeast Syria alongside Kurdish-led forces, but President Trump withdrew them abruptly, opening the way for Turkey's invasion 11 days ago.

Erdogan also said he would discuss during his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week what to do about troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who have deployed to the border after striking a deal with the Kurds.

"We have American forces likely caught between two opposing, advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation", Secretary Esper said.

USA forces withdrew from a key base in northern Syria Sunday, a monitor said, two days before the end of a US-brokered truce to stem a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in the region.

A spokesman for the main Kurdish-led group in Syria says their fighters have evacuated the northern town of Ras al-Ayn, saying they have no armed presence there anymore.

Shelling and artillery fire was reported Friday in the border town of Ras al-Ain, one of the targets of Turkey's week-old offensive against Kurdish fighters, who have always been backed by the United States.

Later Saturday, a medical convoy, which had been blocked since Thursday by Turkish-backed rebels, was allowed into Ras al-Ayn, activists said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Syrian government forces to move out of areas near the Turkish border so he can resettle up to 2 million refugees there, his spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said Saturday it was "completely abiding" by the accord.

A pull-back would be a major boost to the deal.

The broader Kurdish pullback, if it is carried out, will grant Turkish forces control of the swathe of territory roughly in the middle of the Syrian-Turkish border.

Erdogan said Friday he and Trump share "love and respect", but he also left little doubt that he was offended by an October 9 letter from Trump telling him, "Don't be a fool!" "If they wanted, they would have interfered to stop it".