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Turkey attacks Kurdish fighters, may redraw Syrian map

IBTimes India 2019-10-10 13:00:45

Days after the US withdrew its troops from Syria, Turkey launched airstrikes and attacked Kurdish fighters in Ras al-Ain on Wednesday. The conflict could lead to reshaping the map of Syria and resurgence of the Islamic State in the region.

While the Syrian organisation, Rojava Information Center, claimed at least seven people were killed in the attacks, the UK-based monitoring body The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that eight people had died. 

The attacks took place days after US President Donald Trump made the contradictory agreement to the Turkish military operation despite the US being an ally to the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In a widely criticised move by both the US State Department and the military, Trump called Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and instructed US troops to withdraw from its positions against Turkey in the region, allowing the attack to take place.

The SDF accused the US of breaching its commitments to the Kurdish forces as joint military cooperation between the two forces has fought the Islamic State, also known as Daesh fighters, in eastern and northern Syria.

"Despite our efforts to avoid any military escalation with Turkey and the flexibility we have shown to move forward in establishing a mechanism for the security of the borders ..., the American forces did not fulfil their commitments and withdrew their forces from the border areas with Turkey," the SDF stated.

In a landmark operation in March, land held by the IS extremists was captured, leading to the end of the "caliphate" that was declared by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.

Turkey had threatened to launch a military operation against the Syrian Kurdish forces in a bid to claim Syrian territory. They had sought a "safe zone" which extends 32 km into Syrian territory in a bid it claims is to rehabilitate 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey back to their country.

"Bad Idea"

On the accusations of betraying the Kurdish fighters, Trump on Wednesday stated that he condemned the Turkish military operation and said: "In no way have we abandoned the Kurds."

"The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea," he said.

On the threat of mass displacement and massacre in the region, he said: "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."

Despite his statements, the move indicates at White House deciding to avoid the conflict of being stuck between two of its allies, by announcing that the US military will not be a part of the long-planned military operation or create the safe zone.

However, experts have asserted that the US' abrupt withdrawal from the region will result in de-stability, the resurgence of Islamic State and invite Iranian and Russian-backed government forces to intervene in the region.