The human cost of Turkey's military action in Syria

Andrew Cummings
October 11, 2019

One major concern for the worldwide community is the fate of thousands of suspected IS prisoners, including many foreign nationals, being guarded by Kurdish-led forces in the region.

Since Trump first announced plans to withdraw from Syria a year ago, experts have warned that a US departure could empower Islamic State militants.

Turkey, which still formally aspires to join the European Union despite mounting EU criticism of Ankara's human rights record, was stung by EU criticism of its air and land offensive against formerly US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Turkey regards the Kurdish militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - which have controlled the cross-border areas - as "terrorists" who support an anti-Turkish insurgency.

What's the latest on the fighting?

The divided UN Security Council failed to agree on Turkey's offensive in northeast Syria on Thursday, with Europeans demanding a halt to military action and Syrian ally Russian Federation calling for "restraint" and "direct dialogue" between the two countries.

Seven civilians including a nine-month-old baby were killed in Turkish border towns in Sanliurfa and Mardin provinces.

The Kurdish Red Crescent said there had been 11 confirmed civilian deaths so far and 28 serious injuries, mostly in Ras al-Ain and another border town, Qamishli.

Such a zone would end the Kurds' autonomy in the area and put much of their population under Turkish control.

"We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!"

Worldwide aid agencies warned of an escalating humanitarian crisis, saying civilians were at risk "as violence escalates".

Turkey wants to create a "safe zone" running for 480km (300 miles) along the Syrian side of the border but says it will not advance deeper than a planned 32km limit.

Some 64,000 people have already reportedly fled their homes, the International Rescue Committee aid organisation said. "That is why I consider yesterday's threats made by President Erdogan totally out of place", he said.

Another group of 14 humanitarian organisations, including the Mercy Corps, warned the figure could be 450,000. They said the offensive threatens progress against the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by a global coalition, undermines stability of the region and exacerbates "civilian suffering".

"As has been the case in its previous counter-terrorism operations, Turkey's response will be proportionate, measured and responsible", the letter said.

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, expressed "deep concern" and called for a "deescalation" of the spiraling violence in Syria. I say it again: "if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: "we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you", Erdogan said in a speech to his party.

Other reports by iNewsToday