Kurds Withdraw From Syria-Turkey Border Region Amid Tentative Ceasefire

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Israelis protest against Turkey's incursion into northern Syria, outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv on July 08, 2010. Photo by Gili Yaari/Flash 90

RAS AL-AYN (JNS) — The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has withdrawn from a 75-mile area between the border towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad in compliance with a U.S.-brokered ceasefire, and will move back 19 miles from the Syria-Turkey border, a senior SDF official told the Associated Press on Monday.

SDF official Redur Khalil added however that while the Kurds were upholding their end of the ceasefire, the United States was failing to hold Turkey to its end, saying Turkey continues to conduct shellings and military operations.

Turkey halted its offensive in northern Syria on Thursday for five days under a deal agreed between Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The aim of the ceasefire is to give Kurdish forces time to withdraw from the border area Turkey is seeking to establish as a “safe zone.”

While Erdoğan has said Turkey will resume its assault “with determination” when the deadline expires on Tuesday if all Kurdish forces, including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, have not withdrawn, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a Turkish drone hit a vehicle on Monday carrying four SDF fighters, some three kilometers from Ain Issa, south of Tal Abyad.

On Sunday, a Turkish soldier was reported killed and another wounded during an attack by the YPG militia in Tal Abyad. The Turkish Defense Ministry said the attack had targeted Turkish soldiers conducting a reconnaissance and surveillance mission, and that while Turkey had retaliated it remained committed to the ceasefire.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria will be stationed in western Iraq, where they will “help defend Iraq” and continue fighting the Islamic State.

There are currently more than 5,000 American troops based in Iraq.

Video circulated on social media showed residents of the city of Qamishli throwing potatoes at troops leaving the area, yelling “America liar” and “No America,” expressing their sense of betrayal at the U.S. withdrawal.

Signs at protests included “Thanks for U.S. people but Trump betrayed us,” and “To the U.S. army who are leaving northeast Syria: Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them.”

Some U.S. special forces soldiers that have fought alongside the Kurds in recent years have reportedly expressed remorse at the withdrawal.

According to reports, at least 114 civilians have been killed and 300,000 displaced since Turkey began its offensive on Oct. 9.

Erdoğan is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday, coinciding with the end of the five-day ceasefire.

An SDF official called on Israel on Monday to take action against Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria, according to a report in the Times of Israel.

“The State of Israel must work to put an end to this war that is killing women and children and expelling civilians from their homes,” the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Times via text message.

“I am certain that the Jewish people understand the situation of the Kurdish people best because it lived these types of dangers throughout much of its history. I am sure that it will not stand by idly as our region faces Turkey’s terror,” said the official.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Another gift to Tsar Pootin from his pippik puppet Trump who says he’s guarding oil fields in Syria but not human lives. What a miserable rasha he is to sell out our Allies.

  2. TO: Perspective and GoldnMedina- Did you have the same opinion of Bill Clinton (as you do of Trump), when Clinton turned his back to the plight of nearly 1,000,000 men, women, and children Hutu civilians, who were slaughtered by the Tutsi militias, in Rwanda, within a 90 day period, in 1994? Clinton could have sent troops to have protected those helpless civilians, but chose to do nothing. He knew what was going on, but didn’t care.

  3. Was just reading an article over yom tov from a never trumper who visited Iraq and interviewed Kurds . To make a long story short they are no tzadakim. When he said he wants to visit an isis fighter they told him they are all dead . We treat them like they’d treat us . And he asked them but aren’t you suppose to be on record as testing prisoners humanely and with dignity ? They laughed and said that’s only for a show to the USA that play the sympathy game . The Syrian Kurds are even worse .

    Now I still believe that with Muslims we need to put tough barbaric ruthless people as leaders as long as they protect our interest . But if you don’t get much out of it and they only control small swaths of land then let turkey do the job

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