Turkey pounds Syrian border towns, sparking exodus

Iranian armed forces members march during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran Ir

Turkey pounds Syrian border towns, sparking exodus

Officials told ABC News that there are plans to withdraw all us troops from Syria if the security situation worsens.

Turkey's military will continue its campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Syria despite "threats" from the USA and allies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, insisting the operation targets not Kurds but terrorists.

Speaking alongside Esper, Army Gen. Mark Milley said the USA -backed Syrian Kurdish military known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, is still guarding camps holding IS prisoners.

Fighting in the struggling northeast could "revive" prospects for IS and "cause the release" of some 12,000 hardline militants who are detained by Kurdish forces at al-Hol and other camps in Syria's northeast, said Doz.

Three more soldiers were injured in the "operation region", the defence ministry added.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Donald Trump during a phone call Sunday that he was going to conduct an operation in that area.

Violent clashes have taken place primarily around the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, which are controlled by the YPG.

"I have no indication they are willing to stop", U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. "The secretary also reiterated his strong concern that, despite USA force protection measures, Turkey's actions could harm US personnel in Syria".

Turkey says the group backs Turkish Kurd militants, which it labels terrorists.

The statement, which contained no mention of the US-backed Kurds or hints of objection to the Turkish operation, quickly set off howls of anger among the USA foreign policy establishment and members of Congress on the left and right.

A Kurdish official who oversees aid work in northeast Syria, Khaled Ibrahim, said water to Hasaka city and nearby areas was cut by Turkish shelling that damaged a pumping station.

The European council members" statement also urged protection of civilians and said "it is unlikely that a so-called "safe zone' in northeast Syria, as envisioned by Turkey, would satisfy worldwide criteria for refugee return".

Turkey for its part said it would take responsibility for the IS prisoners it found during its offensive.

All told, the United States moved between 50 to 100 troops out of northern Syria this week, as the Turkish forces prepared their assault. "We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria at this time".

On Friday, just a short distance from the base, a funeral was held for a 25-year-old SDF fighter killed by a Turkish mortar round.

The ministry's statement comes after shelling from the militia into Turkey and Turkish military strikes in northern Syria, with casualties on both sides.

The roots of this week's battle are in 2015, when the US-led coalition turned to the Kurds as a companion drive to mount a floor marketing campaign towards Isil inside Syria with the assist of Western airpower and particular forces. Such a zone would end the Kurds' autonomy in the area and put much of their population under Turkish control. Iraq was coordinating with the United States, Russia, Turkey and the SDF, he said, "to protect our security" and to prevent a repeat of the Islamic State rampage through Iraq that began in the summer of 2014.

"We will sustain our fight against Daesh and other terrorist organizations decisively".

A senior EU official said the European Union was spending 6 billion euros ($6.63 billion) on supporting the Syrian refugees now living in camps inside Turkey, adding that "to use this as leverage is totally unacceptable". They have been holding thousands of captured ISIS fighters in prisons and tens of thousands of their relatives in detention. "We have not abandoned them".

Esper denied that the US "greenlighted" Turkey's incursion.

"I hope we can mediate", Trump said when asked about the options by reporters.

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