Erdogan vows to 'crush the heads' of Kurdish fighters if ceasefire fails

ABC News Chart Illustration

ABC News Chart Illustration Chart

A spokesman for the main Kurdish-led group in Syria says their fighters have evacuated the northern town of Ras al-Ayn, saying they have no armed presence there anymore. His spokesman Kalin said he will tell Putin that Ankara does not want either Syrian forces or Kurdish fighters along the border because refugees would not go back to areas under their control.

During an October 5 call, Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he would remove US troops from the Kurdish-controlled border area on the Turkish-Syrian border.

The agreement - reached in negotiations between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence - virtually hands Turkey its aims in the invasion, requiring Kurdish fighters to vacate a swath of territory in Syria along the Turkish border during the cease-fire.

The deal was aimed at easing a crisis that saw President Donald Trump order a hasty and unexpected USA retreat, which his critics say amounted to abandoning loyal Kurdish allies that fought for years alongside United States troops against Daesh.

Speaking at an event in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told the European Union countries and the U.S. delegation with which he struck the deal that Turkey would resume the operation if the deal faltered.

Asked if United States special operations forces will conduct unilateral military operations into Syria to go after IS, Esper said that is an option that will be discussed with allies over time.

But Mr Erdogan has kept up a war of words on the Kurdish fighters. The Kurds say they broke out of their camp a week ago, attacking guards, amid heavy clashes and Turkish airstrikes nearby.

"Turkey is 100% behind the deal".

In tandem with the Turkish assault, the Kurdish-led SDF and the Syrian army reached a Russian-backed deal earlier this week for the army to assume certain Kurdish-held areas to counter the Turkish attack. Abandoned by the USA, the Kurds made a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops have deployed to the border with Turkey, upending old alliances and pushing the eight-year-old Syrian war into an unpredictable new phase. Erdogan's meeting with Putin on Tuesday will add murk to an already muddy situation.

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At least 190,000 people have fled their homes in northern Syria , according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Earlier Wednesday, Erdogan said that the only option for Kurdish militants in Syria was to give up the battle and retreat.

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Eyewitness reports said shelling continued in the city through Thursday night and into Friday morning.

Trump said in a tweet that he spoke Friday with Erdogan who said there had been some "minor sniper and mortar fire" that was quickly stopped. That move abandoned the Kurdish-led force, which was allied with the Americans in the bloody, years-long campaign that brought down the Islamic State group's rule over almost a third of Syria.

In his is scathing assessment of Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, which was followed by a bombardment of Turkish forces, Rotovsky said the move had strengthened Moscow's "already rather strong political position" in the region.

Trump has faced criticism for his decision from both sides of the aisle. He said their fighters would re-deploy from a zone 120 kilometres (75 miles) wide and 30-kilometres (20 miles) deep between Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad.

Turkey's defence ministry said it was "completely abiding" by the accord.

"They are the losers, they lose territory, their margin of manoeuvre has contracted dramatically", Wimmen said, noting that Kurds had in recent days turned to Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad for military assistance.

Clashes continued not exclusively in Ras-al-Ain but in addition a number of different elements of northeastern Syria, with some crossing the border from Turkey to assault a village, a battle monitor advised the Related Press.

The Kurds were US allies in the fight against the Islamic State since 2014, but Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists due to their links to outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey since the 1980s.

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