Published: Sun, October 13, 2019

Trump doubts public wants US involved in Syria

Trump doubts public wants US involved in Syria

Syria's Kurds battled to hold off a Turkish invasion on Thursday as thousands of civilians fled air strikes and shelling that deepened fears of a humanitarian crisis.

Residents of the border areas scrambled in panic on Wednesday as they tried to get out on foot, in cars and with rickshaws piled with mattresses and a few belongings.

The SDF have served as ground troops for the US-led campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists since 2015.

AFP correspondents on the Turkish side of the border said they saw fighters crossing into Syria in dozens of vehicles.

After launching the assault with air strikes and intense artillery fire, the Turkish military and its Syrian proxies crossed the border into Kurdish-controlled areas.

A fighter with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) holds her weapon as they announce the destruction of Islamic State's control of land in eastern Syria on March 23, 2019.

"One of the big concerns is that many Islamic State terrorist fighters will be broken out of prison or allowed to be freed or liberated by the Turks", Mr Barton said.

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).

Turkey has launched a major military operation in northeast Syria.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said 228 militants had been killed so far in the offensive.

Turkey's defence ministry said Thursday morning that they had struck 181 targets east of the Euphrates River since the incursion started.

He said he had summoned Turkey's ambassador to condemn the attack.

In sharp-edged remarks aimed at Turkey, Juncker pointed out that the European Union is contributing €6bn (£5.4bn) to Turkey to help support the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the country, adding that Europe would not contribute to the creation of a "safe zone" in northern Syria.

Turkey's offensive came just days after the Trump administration announced it was pulling USA troops back from the area, prompting outrage in Congress and accusations from senior Republican lawmakers that Trump allowed Turkey to attack an ally that it considers instrumental in the fight against ISIS.

Trump has been criticized for his stark change in rhetoric after previous year vowing to stand by the Kurds, who have been America's only allies in Syria fighting Islamic State militants.

The President insisted that he likes the Kurds - who led the fight against ISIS alongside the USA - but added that they had been acting in their own self-interest in battling ISIS and it was time for them to continue the fight alone.

Trump, who is widely seen as the enabler of the Turkish offensive, said the assault was "a bad idea" not backed by the United States.

Turkey's campaign - in which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member rained down bombs on an area where hundreds of USA troops had been stationed - drew immediate criticism and calls for restraint from Europe.

Late on Thursday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar spoke by phone with his French, British and USA counterparts, the defense ministry said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had been in contact with the Turkish and U.S. governments overnight and admitted to being anxious about the situation.

On Sept. 18, Erdogan said that the U.S. was given two weeks to create a safety zone in northern Syria. One of the officials said there are plans to bring the two ISIS members, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, to the USA for prosecution.

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