Tensions at the Turkish-Syrian border were high on Tuesday amid expectations of a Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria. (October 8th)
Turkey was on the verge of launching an offensive on the Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria, a senior Turkish official said in an action that would defy international criticism and comes just days after President Donald Trump announced that US troops supporting the Kurdish forces in the area would be pulled back from the border zone.
Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish government's main spokesman, tweeted that "the Turkish military, along with the Syrian Free Army, will soon cross the Turkish-Syrian border."
Altun's tweet on Wednesday is linked to an opinion article The Washington Postin which he wrote that Turkey seeks to "neutralize" Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and "free the local population from the yoke of armed bandits".
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Syrian Kurds partner with US-led coalition forces in northeastern Syria, fighting the Islamic State group for nearly four years. But Turkey considers some of them militants linked to forbidden Kurdish rebels in Turkey, which has been waging a terror campaign for years to secure its autonomy from Ankara.
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Trump threatened to punish Turkey economically if he did "something out of what we think is human." However, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have condemned Trump's actions, arguing that this not only poses a threat to a major US ally, but also endangers the campaign against the Islamic State.
Syrian Kurds also run detention centers in the region, which hold thousands of former Islamic State militants and their families.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Syrian Defense Forces General Command – the group that works with US troops – said the border areas of northeastern Syria "are on the brink of possible humanitarian catastrophe … This attack will shed the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded. "
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