Trump says talking to 'both sides' as Turkey presses offensive in Syria

By REUTERS,
October 10, 2019 17:26
2 minute read.
Breaking news

Breaking news. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was talking to "both sides" as Turkey pressed its offensive against U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria, and warned Ankara that it would be hit hard financially if it did not "play by the rules."

“Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time. They have been fighting forever. We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area,” Trump wrote. “I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS. Talking to both sides. Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again.

“Turkey is a member of NATO. Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help). I say hit Turkey very hard financially [and] with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely,” Trump wrote.

He spoke out as Turkey pressed its military offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria on Thursday, shelling towns and bombing targets from the air in an operation that has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

The Turkish military campaign began Wednesday, as U.S. troops, who have been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against Islamic State, started to leave in an abrupt policy shift by U.S. President Donald Trump. The withdrawal was criticized in Washington as a betrayal of America's Kurdish allies.

At least 23 fighters with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and eight civilians, two them SDF administrators, have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The SDF has not given a casualty toll, while six fighters with Turkey-backed rebel groups have also been killed.

More than 60,000 people have fled since the offensive began, the Observatory added. The towns of Ras al-Ain and Darbasiya, some 60 km to the east, have been largely deserted as a result of the attack.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told members of his AK Party in Ankara that 109 militants had been killed so far in the two days of fighting, while Kurds said they were resisting the assault.

According to a senior Turkish security official, armed forces struck weapons and ammunition depots, gun and sniper positions, tunnels and military bases.

Jets conducted operations up to 30 km (18 miles) into Syria, and a Reuters witness saw shells exploding just outside the town of Tel Abyad.

"The operation is currently continuing with the involvement of all our units... 109 terrorists have been killed so far," Erdogan said in a speech to members of his AK Party in Ankara.


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