Aid agencies scramble to help desperate Syrian Kurds reeling under Turkish offensive - GulfToday

Aid agencies scramble to help desperate Syrian Kurds reeling under Turkish offensive

Displaced people, fleeing from the countryside of the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras Al-Ain along the border with Turkey. File/ AFP

In the latest manifestation of his signature statements, US President Donald Trump said that things are “nicely under control” in Syria, even as aid agencies in the northeastern part of the country were desperately trying to provide assistance to thousands of people fleeing the fighting after Turkish forces launched an offensive.

About 1,000 refugees had crossed into Iraq's Kurdish north. The desertion of their homes by countless residents across northern Syria has triggered a new humanitarian crisis in the area.

Trump defended his decision to pull US troops out of Syria, but denied giving Turkey a "green light" to launch operations against Kurdish militants.

He said he saw the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant.

Syria-ref-1 A volunteer assists a woman and an infant to disembark from a minibus at the Bardarash camp, near the Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq. AFP

He also remarked, "Turkey has gone into Syria. If Turkey goes into Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria – it's not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe."

Trump stressed that US troops were out of harm's way and that the fallout from the US withdrawal was for Syria, Turkey and Russia to work out among themselves.

On his part, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on an invite from President Vladimir Putin, will visit Sochi in Russia on Oct.22 for talks over Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly slated President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American soldiers from Syria.

Syrian forces on Wednesday night rolled into the strategic border town of Kobani, blocking one path for the Turkish military to establish a "safe zone" free of Syrian Kurdish fighters along the frontier as part of its week-old offensive.

Syria-ref-2 Syrian displaced families arrive at a refugee camp in Bardarash on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. AFP

The seizure of Kobani by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad also indicated a radical shift in strategic alignments: the town was where the United States military and Kurdish fighters first united to defeat the Daesh group four years ago.

At least two members of the Daesh group have fled their detention centre in Syria.

Syrian Kurdish officials said that more than 700 Daesh supporters escaped from a camp for displaced people in northeastern Syria over the weekend.

Iraq-Chopper An Iraqi Air Force helicopter flies over the Rabiaa border crossing, Iraq. AP

The UN Security Council has expressed "deep concern" over the escape and “dispersion of terrorists”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepared to travel to Turkey to try to persuade Erdogan to halt the offensive.

Before the offensive, a camp in the northern town of Ein Eissa held an estimated 12,000 displaced people, including around 1,000 wives and widows of Daesh fighters and their children. But rioting broke out as Turkish-led forces closed in over the weekend, leading to the escape of hundreds of Daesh supporters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could no longer "keep track" of the tweets by his US counterpart Donald Trump as tensions mount over Ankara's operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, in comments published Wednesday.

Erdogan threatens Europe with refugees if no support on Syria

"When we take a look at Mr Trump's Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them. We cannot keep track," Erdogan told Turkish journalists aboard a plane returning from Baku, in comments carried by the Hurriyet daily.

Syria-ref-3 Women sit together on a curb in the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria. Reuters

Turkey last week began an operation to drive back Syrian Kurdish militants from northern Syria, after the US pulled 1,000 troops out of the area.

The withdrawal was seen as a greenlight from the White House for the Turkish offensive.

But facing a massive backlash at home, Trump later issued a series of conflicting statements, at times threatening Ankara, and at others, suggesting the US had no role in the fight between Turkey and Kurdish militants.

In one typically contradictory tweet, Trump announced: "Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!"

In his interview with the Turkish journalists, Erdogan also shared an anecdote from his telephone call with Trump this week.

"I told Trump: 'You get very angry with the media from time to time. You are now under their influence. Don't listen to them, you are a strong leader. This does not befit a strong leader'," he said, according to the Yeni Safak daily.

Related articles