US-Syria crisis: Turkey confirms deaths of over 150 Kurds despite Trump's bold threat
Oct. 11, 2019
TURKEY's offensive in northern Syria has killed 174 Kurdish military personnel according to the country's defence ministry.
According to reports from Turkish media sources, two villages had been cleared of so-called “terrorists". Despite Donald Trump confirming the removal of US troops from the region on Monday, the Pentagon has since confirmed that troops have been repositioned in northern Syria following the launch of the Turkish attack. Ankara has accused the Syrian Kurds of supporting a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey, that is trying to create an autonomous Kurdish republic.
Turkey launched its offensive, known as Operation Peace Spring, on Wednesday in its efforts to push Kurdish militia away from the border so as to create a “safe zone”, where it intends to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees.
Following the news of the offensive and the threat towards Kurds in northern Syria, Trump warned the Turkish President, that he "will wipe out his economy if that happens."
Unverified reports from Kurdish activists claim that Turkish troops had made very little progress on the ground.
The fierce fighting has resulted in a flood of refugees desperately trying to flee the scene.
The UN refugee agency says tens of thousands are on the move, and aid agencies warned that nearly a half-million people near the border are at risk.
In response to the fighting and mounting casualties President Trump issued a statement that said: “The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea.
“Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place—and we will hold them to this commitment.”
He later added that he would use "far more than sanctions" against the country if it failed to act in the most "humane way" possible, before concluding that he hoped Turkish President Erdogan would act rationally.
Turkey’s military offensive comes after Trump announced on Monday his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria.
His decision was roundly criticised at the time by Republicans in Congress, including some of his staunchest allies.
They saw this as a gross betrayal of the Kurds, who have played a major role in defeating ISIS in Syria and have lost up to 11,000 fighters in the process.
His critics also feared that this decision would allow ISIS to reassert its influence in the region.
Speaking on 'Fox & Friends' on Wednesday, Senator Lindsay Graham said: “I hope President Trump's right. I hope we can turn the fight against ISIS over to Turkey.
“I hope that Turkey when they go into Syria, they won't slaughter the Kurds... If Trump follows through with this, it'd be the biggest mistake of his presidency."
Trump robustly defended his decision, saying that he was fulfilling an electoral promise to bring US soldiers home.
He tweeted: "The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago.
"We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight.
"When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate.”
President Erdogan has reacted fiercely to criticisms of Turkey’s military action.
He threatened the European Union that he would “open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way” if the EU leaders labelled his actions in north-eastern Syria an “occupation”.
He also lambasted critics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and said Isis fighters who were captured in the military campaign would be imprisoned in Turkey if their home countries refused to claim them.
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