Assad’s army marches in on the Kurdish zone near the Turkish border

The Syrian forces are meant to block the Turkish advance, a no-fly zone declared in northern Syria by Russia.

A GIRL holds an image of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A GIRL holds an image of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian army units loyal to Bashar al-Assad entered the Kurdish town of Tall Tamr near the Turkish border on Saturday.
The abrupt US withdrawal from the eight-year Syrian war, and the potential return of the Syrian army to the Kurdish-controlled northeast, are major victories for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Russia and Iran.
 
The town is situated near a main road currently held by the Turkish army. Top Syrian Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd said the deal is limited to the army's deployment along the border and the two sides will discuss political issues later. 
The US announced on Sunday it would swiftly withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northeast Syria, just four days after Turkey launched its cross-border offensive with a green light from President Donald Trump. An act denounced as a stab in the back by the Kurds, thousands of whom died fighting against Islamic State in partnership with Washington since 2014.
The Kurds announced on Sunday they were pursuing a new pact instead with Washington's foes, Assad and his Russian backers.
US Defense Secretary Mike Esper indicated on Sunday that the Kurdish move was planned way ahead of the US pullout and that was one of the factors behind Trump's decision. . 
 
Al-Monitor reporter Ksenia Svetlova took to social media to say a Kurdish official reported, that thanks to Russia, a no-fly zone was declared in north-Syria and that “if we’re honest, the Kurds could have gotten this four years ago if they haven’t counted on the US,” she added. “Let everybody reach their own conclusions.” 
It is unclear how the Syrian-Kurdish deal will work out as the Kurdish aspiration for autonomy slams directly with Assad's desire to reunite the war-torn country of Syria under his own leadership. According to Kurd, taking the city of Afrin away from the Turks will be in the cards next.   
The Turkish assault has prompted widespread criticism and alarm that it could allow Islamic State fighters in Syria to escape their Kurdish-run prisons and regroup.
 
104 Kurdish infantry soldiers were killed in confrontations with the Turkish army, the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Roughly 60 civilians were killed in the last four days. 
 
Turkey announced it means to re-settle Syrian refugees in the zone it means to control in Syria, effectively creating a “buffer zone” between Turkey and lands traditionally held by Kurds. 
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the EU to “get your act together” and warned that should Europe call what his army is up to “occupation” “we will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. 
 
The warning came after EU leader Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU will not finance the Turkish plan to create such a zone.
Ankara says its operation aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was the key US partner in dismantling the jihadist "caliphate" set up by Islamic State militants in Syria.
The region's Kurdish-led administration said 785 Islamic State-affiliated foreigners escaped a camp at Ain Issa. 
 
Erdogan dismissed the reports and told the state-run Anadolu news agency that accounts of escapes by Islamic State prisoners were "disinformation" aimed at provoking the West.

Trump has placed the onus on the Kurds and Turkey to restrain the Islamic State fighters and blamed European nations for not taking back their own citizens.