Four days after the beginning of the military offensive against the Kurdish militia YPG, the Turkish army has reportedly invaded the border town of Ras al-Ain in northern Syria. The city is under Turkish control, said the Ministry of Defense in Ankara. Kurdish fighters rejected this immediately. The fight for Ras al-Ain continues, said a representative of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF is an alliance of the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG) and Arab militias.
Turkey started its long-threatened military offensive against the Kurdish militia YPG in northern Syria on Wednesday following the withdrawal of US troops from the Syrian border area.
Since the start of the offensive on Wednesday 415 enemy fighters have been killed, said the Turkish Ministry of Defense. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said 74 deaths on the part of the SDP rebel group led by the YPG and 49 deaths on the part of allied with Turkey rebels. In addition, 20 civilians were killed, most of them in Tel Abyad. The information is difficult to independently verify. According to the United Nations already 100,000 people fled the fighting.
Turkey wants to build a 30-kilometer-deep so-called security zone along the border on Syrian territory and demands the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia from the area. There are then to be settled up to two million fled to Turkey mostly Arab Syrians. Turkey fears a strengthening of the Kurds beyond their southern border and thus also the Kurds striving for autonomy on their own territory. The SDF rebels were an important US ally in the fight against the radical Islamic IS militia in civil war Syria. The United States cleared the way for the offensive with its withdrawal from northern Syria.
US threatens sanctions
According to US data, US troops in northern Syria also came under fire from Turkish artillery on Friday. No one was injured, according to the Pentagon. The incident took place near the border town of Kobane. This is an area that Turkey knows is where US soldiers are present. The Turkish Ministry of Defense rejected the presentation. It was definitely not fired on US soldiers, said Minister Hulusi Akar.
The US had asked Turkey to de-escalate in northern Syria. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unwilling to end the military operation despite growing international criticism and threats of sanctions. "We will not stop, no matter what is said," he said. In the event that the Turkish military "does not follow the rules" in his actions against the Kurdish militia and the rebel alliance SDF, US President Donald Trump prepares punitive measures. EU sanctions are also in the room.
The Greens in Germany call for Ankara in view of the military offensive in the end of German armaments sales. The exports would have to be "stopped immediately," said party leader Annalena Baerbock the newspapers of the editorial network Germany. "Already granted permits must be revoked." In addition, the EU should put the negotiations on an extension of the Customs Union on ice so long, "until Turkey returns to a course of democracy and the rule of law."
At the EU Heads of State and Government meeting on Thursday and Friday, the topic is on the agenda. Turkey does not move its actions on the ground of international law, said outgoing EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger on Deutschlandfunk. The actions of Turkey are completely wrong and can not be justified by anything. Nevertheless, the EU adheres to the refugee agreement with Turkey. They are loyal to the contract and expect the same from Erdogan.