US Vice President Mike Pence, during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on Ankara to stop its aggression against Syria and end its military operations that entered its second week. This coincided with the advancement of Turkish forces and pro-Syrian factions inside the border town of Ras al-Ain in northeastern Syria, and now control about half of its area, following violent clashes against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
In detail, the Turkish presidency said that Erdogan met with the US vice president, where they discussed the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria, a day after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose severe sanctions on Ankara for the operation.
The US vice president arrived earlier in Ankara, to push the Turkish president to accept a ceasefire in Syria, after he rejected international pressure to stop the Turkish aggression on Syria.
Erdogan vowed on Wednesday to continue the military operation facilitated by the US withdrawal from northern Syria.
This comes as Trump's letter to Erdogan was revealed, telling him, "Don't be a fool."
Trump sent the message on the day Turkey launched its aggression on northeastern Syria. Trump told him he did not want history to record him as a "devil."
Pence is accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials.
Days after the withdrawal of US troops, Turkish troops and pro-Syrian factions entered a section of the main border town of Ras al-Ain, despite fierce resistance from Kurdish fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The director of the observatory Rami Abdulrahman said that Turkish forces and factions consisting of Arab and Turkmen fighters used by Ankara as ground forces «managed at dawn on Thursday to control about half of the area of Ras al-Ain, after fierce clashes against the Syrian Democratic Forces, accompanied by intensive raids that have been going on for three days».
More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced since the aggression began, in "one of the biggest waves of displacement in a week" since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011, according to Abdul Rahman.
The majority of them fled the province of al-Hasakah, where fighting is concentrated, as well as the Kobani (Ain al-Arab) (Aleppo) and Tal Abyad (Raqqa) areas in the north of the country.
Faced with widespread criticism in Washington of Trump's abandonment of the Kurds, the US president imposed sanctions on three Turkish ministers and increased tariffs on his country's imports of Turkish steel.
Pence's office announced that the United States would seek "harsh economic sanctions" on Turkey if an "immediate ceasefire" was not reached.
"Let's make a good deal," the US president wrote in the October 9 letter, which the White House confirmed to AFP.
"You don't want to be responsible for the slaughter of thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy," he said.
"History will look at you positively if you do it correctly and humanly ... and you will be seen forever as a demon if good things don't happen."
Meanwhile, the Kurdish self-administration yesterday called on the international community to intervene to open a "humanitarian corridor" to evacuate civilians and wounded "besieged" in the border town of Ras al-Ain, surrounded by Turkish forces and Syrian factions loyal to it.
Iraqi President warns of Turkish incursion in Syria
Iraqi President Barham Salih warned yesterday that the Turkish military incursion in northern Syria would undermine the efforts of the international community in the fight against terrorism.
During a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian, Saleh stressed the need to intensify efforts to support Iraq in maintaining its security and stability, and not to give terrorist gangs the opportunity to renew their activities and threaten the security of the region and the world, especially as Iraq continues to suffer the devastating effects of the crimes of the Islamic State ». He called for «the need to stop Turkish military operations in Syria, and to address the humanitarian disaster urgently, according to a statement of the Iraqi presidency.
During the meeting, they discussed "strengthening bilateral relations." Baghdad - dpa
Assad vows to confront Turkish aggression «through all legitimate means»
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted by state media as saying that his country would respond to the Turkish aggression "and face it in all its forms in any area of Syrian territory, through all legitimate means available."
Assad's comments came after an agreement between Damascus and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to repel Turkish aggression on northeastern Syria last week.
DAMASCUS, (SANA) - Damascus considered yesterday that the Syrians are united under the flag of Syria against the ongoing Turkish aggression in northeast Syria, according to the official media, in the first official comment since the army deployed in border areas based on an agreement with the Kurds.
The official SANA news agency quoted a source at the Foreign Ministry as saying that the Syrians are united more than ever, under the banner of the national flag, in confronting the treacherous Turkish aggression, reiterating its absolute rejection and strong condemnation.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry considered that the Turkish aggression «deal a severe blow to efforts to find a way out of the crisis in Syria, and thus the Turkish regime loses the position of guarantor within the framework of Astana», referring to the talks hosted by the capital of Kazakhstan (formerly) under the auspices of Moscow and Tehran, supporters of Damascus, Ankara support for the opposition, The agreement resulted in the formation of a constitutional committee to settle the conflict that has been going on since 2011. Under the agreement, army units have deployed in the past two days in several border areas, most notably the cities of Manbij and Kobani in Aleppo province in the north. The Kurds insist that the agreement with Damascus is "military", and does not affect the work of the self-management institutions they announced after their control over large areas in the north and northeast of the country. Damascus - Agencies
Turkey boosts spending in 2020 to build 'safe zone' housing in Syria
Turkey may allocate funds in its 2020 budget to build refugee shelters in a “safe area” it wants to set up in northern Syria after its military invasion there, the head of Turkey's strategy and budget department said yesterday.
Ankara wants to keep the YPG out of its border with Syria and establish an area stretching some 32 kilometers south. It says that up to 2 million of the 3.6 million refugees it currently hosts will live in that area.
For Turkey, which hosts more refugees than any other country in the world, the return of some Syrians across the border has become an urgent priority, as it recovers with a recession and struggles with high unemployment.
Iqbal said there was no budgetary allocation in the 2020 budget for housing projects, but that could be done if needed.
"The government budget is strong, flexible," he said. "The necessary initiative will be taken," he said, adding that Turkey could also boost spending on military operations.
In his speech to world leaders at the United Nations last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented a map of the planned safe area and put forward ambitious proposals to build hundreds of new villages and towns for refugees. Reuters