The Turkish northeast Syria offensive launched on 9 October in the wake of United States President Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of the region, has “severely impacted” an already dire humanitarian situation, says the UN, with civilians fleeing the border areas, including into neighboring Iraq. However clashes continued on the border between Turkey and Syria, according to eyewitnesses and Kurdish fighters, despite US Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had brokered a ceasefire there. A handful of Christian-led aid groups remain in northeast Syria, despite pullbacks from major aid organizations. Nearly 300,000 residents have fled the fighting, and hundreds have been killed, including at least 18 children, according to the United Nations. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that Turkey’s militias had initially prevented a convoy from the Kurdish Red Crescent and the Free Burma Rangers from entering Ras al-Ain to provide aid. It said it expected casualties to rise due to the high number of wounded who can’t access medical care. Turkey has justified its offensive, saying that the US allied Kurdish militia, which did the bulk of the fighting in the successful campaign against ISIL extremists, as terrorists. A Russian-negotiated truce saw the start of joint Russian and Turkish patrols on Friday, according to news reports, aimed at enforcing the “safe zone” to a depth of around 30 kilometers south of the border.
Scott Mc Kiernan, Founder & CEO, ZUMA Press