The Syrian army strikes back: To counteract the Turkish military offensive, Damascus sends its own forces into the northern Syrian border area. Meanwhile, the US announces the withdrawal of more soldiers. And Russia?
In response to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the government in Damascus sends its own troops into the region. The move follows an agreement between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Kurdish militia against which Ankara launched a military offensive on Wednesday. The agreement is an indication of the increasingly desperate situation of the Kurds, who have lost their main ally there with the withdrawal of US troops.
The Syrian army will face "Turkish aggression on Syrian soil in the north", reported the state-run Syrian news agency Sana, without giving details. According to a report by the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen, the troops are to be sent from Monday morning to the Turkish border. Since last Wednesday, the Turkish military offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the Kurdish militia YPG
The Kurdish autonomy administration in the region described the agreement with Damascus as the result of an increasingly hopeless situation. "In the past five days, the most outrageous crimes against unarmed civilians have been committed," it said in a statement. "We had to negotiate with the Syrian government, which has the task of protecting national borders and Syrian sovereignty." The government forces would now have to help the SDF liberate the areas occupied by the Turkish army and its allied militia.
So far, Syrian government forces have been stationed in certain Kurdish areas to prevent a Turkish offensive. Meanwhile, a Kurdish representative who wanted to remain anonymous reported "negotiations" between the administration of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and the Syrian government.
A few hours earlier, US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of more US troops from northern Syria. There was a danger that the US would come between two opposing armies that were advancing in northern Syria, said US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper the US broadcaster CBS. That is a "very untenable" situation. Esper had therefore spoken with Trump, who had ordered that a withdrawal of forces from northern Syria will begin. The US government wants to make sure that no US soldiers are injured or killed, Esper said. Speaking of fewer than 1,000 troops to be withdrawn from northeastern Syria, Esper Fox News said. There is no schedule. The withdrawal was to happen in a "safe, deliberate" manner.
The threat of severe sanctions against Turkey
The United States had around 50 out of the immediate territory of the Turkish offensive, which has been running since Wednesday Soldiers withdrew. The decision was cited by critics as a green light for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for use against Kurdish militias in northern Syria. Trump had also received sharp criticism from his own ranks for the decision.
At the same time, the US pushes for a termination of the Turkish offensive and threatens tough sanctions for the government in Ankara. "If we have to, we can shut down the Turkish economy," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Friday. Mnuchin said he did not hope that the "very tough" sanctions would have to be used. The EU also calls for an end to the military deployment called for. France threatened with EU sanctions. EU Foreign Ministers want to discuss the military offensive on Monday
The Kurdish militia YPG controls a large area on the Syrian side of the border with its allies. Turkey sees in it an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK and thus a terrorist organization. The YPG militias were a close ally of the US in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). Last December, Trump announced that it was withdrawing all 2,000 US troops from Syria on the grounds that the IS was defeated there. However, several hundred soldiers were eventually to remain as a "peacekeeping force."
Hundreds of IS supporters from Kurdish imprisonment erupted
In the fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish militias in northern Syria, there are nearly 800 extremist members of the family Terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) erupted from a camp. The approximately 780 IS supporters are foreigners of various origins, said the Kurdish Authority and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They broke out of the Ain Issa camp following a bombardment by militia allied with the Turkish army. The British "Guardian" reported that there are about 250 women and 700 children.
The outbreak of the camp confirms the concern of the international community that the thousands of imprisoned IS fighters and their relatives use the Turkish offensive, to flee Kurdish detention. Internationally, there is concern that its use against the YPG will weaken the fight against the IS militia and allow the extremist group to regroup.