Turkey captures key Syrian border town in offensive against Kurdish militia
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Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized control of the centre of the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain town on Saturday, a senior Turkish security official said, as Turkeys offensive against a Kurdish militia in the region entered its fourth day.
“The (Syrian rebel) national army took control of the town centre this morning. Inspections are being conducted in residential areas,” the official told Reuters.
The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces have advanced in villages around Tal Abyad and Ras al Ain, under the cover of Turkish artillery and some airstrikes.
Turkey is fighting the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers a threat for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The YPG forms the backbone of the US-backed ground forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, however.
The United States has ramped up its efforts to persuade Ankara to halt the offensive against the US-backed Kurdish YPG forces, saying Ankara was causing “great harm” to ties and could face sanctions.
Turkey launched its incursion after US President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Sunday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and withdrew US troops who had been fighting alongside Kurdish forces.
Turkey wont stop
There has been fierce international criticism of the assault and concern about its humanitarian consequences. The Syrian Kurdish-led administration said nearly 200,000 people have been displaced as a result of the offensive.
Erdogan dismissed the mounting criticism of the operation and said on Friday evening that Turkey “will not stop it, no matter what anyone says”.
Thick plumes of smoke rose around Ras al Ain, one of two Syrian border towns targeted in the offensive, on Saturday as Turkish artillery pounded the area, said a Reuters reporter across the frontier in the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar.
Intense gunfire also resounded from within Ras al Ain while warplanes could be heard flying overhead.
It was quieter at Tel Abyad, the operations other main target some 120 km (75 miles) to the west, with only occRead More – Source