Published: Wed, October 09, 2019

Turkish military, Syrian rebel forces to cross into Syria 'shortly’ - Erdogan’s aide

Turkish military, Syrian rebel forces to cross into Syria 'shortly’ - Erdogan’s aide

But the Free Syrian Army is accused by the United Nations of committing human rights abuses when it and Turkish forces invaded the Kurdish-held, Syrian city of Afrin in early 2018.

The SDF said there were no casualties and that it did not respond, calling the attack "unprovoked".

Mustafa Bali of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the Turkish military buildup, together with information about further mobilisation of Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, indicated that "an attack is imminent".

Shortly after Trump spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday, the White House issued a statement saying Turkey would soon be moving ahead with its "long-planned operation in Northern Syria" and that USA forces would "no longer be in the immediate area".

Earlier, the Pentagon said Esper and Milley had been consulted by Trump "over the last several days" about a possible Turkish strike in Syria.

He warned Ankara "any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency".

The top Russian diplomat stressed that both Damascus and the Syrian Kurds have said they are "open to dialogue, and we will do our best to help launch talks on this subject".

At Akcakale, across from Syria's Tel Abyad, howitzers were deployed behind earth embankments and pointed towards Syria, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.

Turkey has long threatened an attack on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

The development comes days after Donald Trump said the U.S. wouldn't stand in the way of Turkey's military operation on Syrian territory.

"As a result, we have moved the USA forces in northern Syria out of the path of [the] potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety", he added.

Concerned that the Kurds face an imminent Turkish onslaught with US forces out of the way, both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders expressed alarm Monday over the president's decision and what looked like the abandonment of longtime USA goals in Syria.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that his administration is not abandoning the Kurds in Syria and is helping them financially and with weapons after a bipartisan backlash over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern part of the country.

Trump defended his decision in a series of tweets on Tuesday. "Disappointment that we are letting down our partners, perhaps adding to the humanitarian disaster in this region".

President Donald Trump's impromptu endorsement of a Turkish incursion into northeast Syria has prompted accusations that Trump had betrayed America's Kurdish allies in Syria.

It could also be seen as Trump being Trump.

"The National Army forces are still preparing for the start of operations east of the Euphrates (river) and they have started moving to the frontlines", National Army spokesman Youssef Hammoud said.

The op-ed-published by The Atlantic-was co-written by Elizabeth Dent, a Middle East Institute non-resident fellow who worked at the State Department as part of the USA -led coalition to defeat ISIS from 2014 to 2019.

Since then, the United States has continued to provide support to the mainly-Kurdish SDF, as they engage in additional clearing operations against IS remnants and sleeper cells across northeastern Syria.

"This is one of the options that we have on the table", he said. Kurdish authorities run more than two dozen detention facilities, scattered around northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 IS fighters.

On Monday, General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the group's commander, told NBC news that watching over the ISIS prisoners had become a "second priority" as the group's fighters rush to Syria's northern border in anticipation of a Turkish offensive.

There are also signs other players in the region are waiting to take advantage of any Turkish-Kurdish conflict.

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