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Syria sees Turkish deployment inside its border as an aggression

Smoke rises after a mortar shell landed in the west part of the city centre of Kobani in Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State, seen from near the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey's Sanliurfa Province on Friday.

Smoke rises after a mortar shell landed in the west part of the city centre of Kobani in Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State, seen from near the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey's Sanliurfa Province on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Burhan Ozbilici

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The Syrian Foreign Ministry’s statement, issued on Friday, came a day after Turkey’s parliament gave the government new powers to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq.

Syria has warned Turkey that deploying troops inside its borders will be seen as an “aggression,” calling on the international community to “put limits to the adventures” of the Turkish leadership.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry’s statement, issued on Friday, came a day after Turkey’s parliament gave the government new powers to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the Turkish decision is an “aggression against a founding member of the United Nations”.

Turkey has been one of the strongest backers of Syrian opposition groups trying to remove President Bashar Assad for power.

The Turkish decision came nearly two weeks after a U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes against Islamic State group positions in Syria. The group controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Heavy fighting hits Kurdish Syrian town

Kurdish fighters battled Islamic State fighters on Friday near a Syrian Kurdish town along the border with Turkey as Turkish Prime Minister said his country will prevent the fall of Kobani.

The Kurdish town and its surrounding have been under attack since mid-September, with militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. The assault, which has forced some 160,000 Syrians to flee, has left the Kurdish militiamen scrambling to repel the militants’ advance into the outskirts of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria’s civil war, reported intense fighting on Friday to the east and southeast of Kobani, saying the town’s Kurdish fighters destroyed two vehicles belonging to militants. The group said seven Islamic State fighters were killed in a village near Kobani.

Nasser Haj Mansour, a defence official in Syria’s Kurdish region, said the Kurdish militiamen repelled the latest attack by the Islamic State east of Kobani and destroyed one tank.

The latest round of fighting came after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey’s ATV television station late Thursday that his government does not want Kobani to be captured.

Asked what will happen if Kobani falls, Mr. Davutoglu said: “We would not want Kobani to fall. We have opened our arms to our brothers who have come from Kobani. We would do whatever is necessary, our utmost to prevent Kobani’s fall.”

Mr. Davutoglu did not elaborate. His comments came after Turkey’s parliament gave the government new powers Thursday to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq, and to allow foreign forces to use its territory for possible operations against the Islamic State group.

When asked about Mr. Davutoglu’s statement, Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s leading Kurdish Democratic Union Party, said: “How does he want to prevent the fall of Kobani and until now Turkey has done nothing?”

Mr. Khalil added that Kobani is now almost empty of civilians and that the situation around the town “is very dangerous”. He said Kurdish fighters in the town “will fight until the last gunman and last gunwoman”.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency released video footage showing thick dark smoke rising from the town. People on the Turkish side of the border were watching events unfold from the top of trucks.

The Observatory reported intense shelling of Kobani, saying that a volunteer fighting with the Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Unit, of YPK, was killed. It said at least 60 shells struck the town on Friday.

An Associated Press journalist at the Turkish border town of Suruc reported intense shelling of Kobani from the south and from the west. One tank moved on the edge of Kobani as shells landed on to its west, some 500m from the Turkish border.

Ismet Sheikh Hassan, the Kurdish Defence Minister of Kobani region, said Islamic State fighters were trying to advance from the east, west and southeast of Kobani. He said jihadis fired rockets on the town and called on the U.S.-led coalition “to hit the tanks instead of bases.”

Also on Friday, the Observatory and Syrian state media said government forces advanced in northern Aleppo Province, capturing three villages including Handarat. The capture of the villages tightens government control of areas linking the contested city of Aleppo with other parts of the Province.

The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, which also monitors Syria’s civil war, reported several airstrikes by the coalition targeting Islamic State group positions in the northern provinces of Raqqa and Aleppo, as well as the eastern oil-rich region of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq.

U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Friday that the coalition on Thursday and Friday continued its airstrikes, destroying an Islamic State group garrison in the northeastern Province of Hassakeh and two tanks in Deir el-Zour. It said two strikes north of Raqqa hit two modular oil refineries and a militant training camp. It said another strike northeast of Aleppo struck a building occupied by the Islamic State group.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:26:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/syria-sees-turkish-deployment-inside-its-border-as-an-aggression/article6469220.ece

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