Turkey seizes large parts of Syrian town in fresh advance

Turkey seizes large parts of Syrian town in fresh advance

Syria dispatched more forces to contain the Turkish advance, but its key ally Moscow vowed to prevent clashes between the two sides.

A meeting Tuesday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to further address arrangements along the Syria-Turkish border.

Angry over the US withdrawal, residents of a Kurdish-dominated Syrian city hurled potatoes at departing American military vehicles as they drove by on Monday.

On Friday, the Pentagon said USA troops in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkish positions, even though Ankara knew that American troops were located there.

The Syrian army has secured border-crossing checkpoints at the strategic frontier city of Kobani.

The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria said in a statement that 785 people affiliated to the Islamic State were among those who got away, escaping from a camp that had housed 12,000 displaced people, mostly women and children.

The agreement will allow for liberating other Syrian areas such as Afrin which fell to the Turkey-backed rebels in 2018.

Syria's troops have entered a northeastern town, Syrian state media said on Monday, after Washington announced it was abruptly pulling out its forces, and its former Kurdish allies reached a deal with Damascus to help resist a Turkish attack.

Turkey's assault, which has seen airstrikes, shelling and a ground incursion, has killed scores of civilians and fighters since its launch on Wednesday.

More than 130,000 people have fled their homes, and more than 50 civilians have died so far.

The announcement of a deal between Syria's Kurds and its government is a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all United States troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly deepening chaos.

The Turkish president also wants to create a so-called "safe zone", stretching some 30km (20 miles) deep into Syria, in which some of the 3.6 million refugees now living in Turkey can be resettled. "I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad to protect the land of our enemy?"

That follows a meeting of top administration officials earlier Monday that involved Treasury SecretarySteven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback Trump: Treasury "ready to go" on sanctions against Turkey: "Stay tuned" MOREand Secretary of StateMike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoReporter presses Pompeo on whether he met with Giuliani in Warsaw Pompeo: "I wish the National Basketball Association would acknowledge" China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims Dem senator urges Pompeo to fire State official accused of retaliation, harassment MORE. "We achieved the outcome that President Trump sent us to achieve". The US forces then moved to a nearby local headquarters where a larger group of forces were located. "This decision goes into effect immediately", French defence and foreign ministries said in a joint statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday said that he is "gravely concerned" about the USA strategy in Syria and warned a "power vacuum" could be created in the region.

USA troops had been based in the city since helping Kurdish fighters seize it from Daesh in 2016.

The official said United States troops on the ground are at risk of being "isolated" and can not travel overland without a "high risk" of armed confrontation with Turkey-backed forces.

Turkey said 440 Kurdish fighters and four of its soldiers have been killed since the operation began.

Trump has placed the onus on the Kurds and Turkey to restrain the Islamic State fighters and blamed European nations for not taking back their own citizens.

European governments are anxious the chaos could trigger mass breakouts by thousands of Daesh fighters detained by Kurdish forces.

The Kurds have said hundreds of Daesh relatives escaped, although Trump suggested the SDF may have deliberately released them to gain leverage.

Human Rights Watch warned European countries against attempts to have their detained nationals transferred en masse to Iraq for prosecution. Erdogan says that Turkey will "open the gates" to Europe for Syrian refugees if the European Union does not back the offensive.

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