Damascus, Oct 18 (IANS) As many as 300,000 civilians have so far been displaced since Turkey launched its long-threatened military campaign against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria on October 9, a war monitor reported.
The Turkish assault, which was launched with the help of Turkey-backed local Syrian rebels, also left 72 civilians killed as well as 416 Kurdish fighters and Turkey-backed rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based watchdog on Thursday said the Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels captured around 70 areas and besieged the city of Ras al-Ayn in the northeastern province of Hasakah, Xinhua news agency reported.
On October 9, Turkey and local rebel groups started an assault to eliminate Kurdish forces in northern Syria in order to end what Turkey perceives as the threat of “terrorist and separatist” groups on its southern border and to impose a safe zone to host millions of Syrian refugees.
With the gradual withdrawal of the U.S. forces from northern Syria that takes place in tandem with the Turkish attack, the Syrian army has moved to counter the Turkish offensive through assuming control of the areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) under a Russian-mediated deal between the Syrian government and the Kurdish fighters.
The Syrian army has so far deployed in the key city of Manbij in northeastern Aleppo near Turkey, as well as the town of Tall Tamr in Hasakah Province in northeastern Syria and the vicinity of the Ayn Issa town in the northern countryside of Raqqa Province.
The Turkish campaign has drawn international criticism and strong condemnation from the Syrian government.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday slammed the Turkish military assault as “blatant invasion and clear aggression” against Syria, state news agency SANA reported.
The current Turkish “aggression” on Syria will be faced by all means on Syrian soil, Assad said.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Foreign Ministry released on Thursday its third condemnation statement since October 9.
“The Turkish aggression on the Syrian territories is the outcome of the expansionist ambitions and illusions” of the Turkish government, a ministry statement said.
“The Syrian Arab Republic affirms its complete rejection and strong condemnation of the blatant Turkish aggression and the interference in Syria’s internal affairs,” it added.