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October 15, 2019

Turkey pushes deep into Syria: Kurds announce deal with Damascus


October 15, 2019

QAMISHLI, Syria: Syria’s Kurds have announced a groundbreaking deal with Damascus on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey, as Ankara presses a deadly cross-border offensive that has sparked an international outcry.

“In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government... so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the Kurdish administration said in a statement.

It came after Syria’s state news agency SANA said the army was sending troops to the north to “confront the Turkish aggression”. In an editorial published in Foreign Policy magazine, SDF chief Mazlum Abdi wrote: “If we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”

US troops in northern Syria ordered to leave country: The Pentagon has begun removing all its troops in northern Syria, a US official said Monday, after President Donald Trump ordered them to leave in the face of Turkey´s attacks on Kurds in the area.

Nearly 1,000 troops will vacate the country, leaving behind only a small contingent of 150 in the southern Syria base at Al Tanf, the official said. “We are executing the order,” the official told AFP.

France weighs troop pullout as US forces leave north Syria: France may have no choice but to pull its troops out of the coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Syria, after President Donald Trump´s decision to withdraw US forces, sources told AFP on Monday.

Paris has contributed around 1,000 soldiers to the anti-IS coalition in Syria and Iraq, which military sources say includes a couple of hundred special force members in Syria´s north.

The government has never officially confirmed their presence, but President Emmanuel Macron tacitly acknowledged soldiers were operating in the region after a meeting with his defence chiefs late Sunday.

“Measures will be taken in the coming hours to ensure the security of French military personnel and civilians present in the zone,” the presidency said in a statement. It also said steps had been taken to boost national security.

France´s armed forces spokesman refused to elaborate on the announcement, citing security concerns. “We´ve never hidden the fact that countries with small contingents would not be able to stay if the United States pulled out,” a French diplomatic source told AFP.

Turkey faces ‘big sanctions’ over Syria actions: US President Donald Trump warned Monday that Turkey faces imminent sanctions over its incursion into northeastern Syria against Kurdish militia, but also signalled Washington would avoid armed conflict with Ankara. “Big sanctions on Turkey coming!” Trump said, after Turkish attacks stepped up over the weekend on the Syrian Kurds, who had allied with the US war against the Islamic State group.

But Trump also suggested the Kurds were trying to draw the United States into a broader, alleging they were deliberately freeing some Islamic State prisoners “to get us involved” in the conflict.

“Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey?” Trump said, ruing “never ending wars. “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!”

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