Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” on October 9th, an offensive aimed at driving out Kurds it calls “terrorists” from north-eastern Syria. This military operation has resulted in the death of more than 150 people, including some 50 civilians and the exodus of more than 130 000 others, who were driven out to the surrounding rural areas, according to the United Nations.
Fights between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces were concentrated around the border towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. This offensive comes just after the announcement of withdrawal of American troops from the area, causing frustration and a storm of criticism. US President Donald Trump is trying to find common ground to come up with a ceasefire and a way to bridge the gap between Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Turkey.
It is worth mentioning that kurd-led Syrian troops (known as Syrian Democratic Forces) have been working for five years with the American troops in order to combat the Islamic State in Syria.
However, Turkey has long objected the US-Kurd alliance and considers the Syrian Kurdish militias to be terrorists. Turkey also said that it is aiming to push the fighters away from Turkey’s borders for national security.
International condemnation of Turkey’s Syria operation
Turkey, who hosts more than 3 million Syrian refugees, has tweeted via its Defense Ministry that 480 fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia were “neutralized” since Wednesday. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, up to 400 000 civilians in the conflict zone may need help and protection in the next period. Furthermore, the Syrian Observatory for human rights estimated that 104 Kurdish fighters have died in clashes and added that 49 Syrian rebels and 30 civilians were killed in the offensive.
The Arab League has denounced Turkey’s offensive against the YPG militia that aims to drive away Kurds linked with a Kurdish insurgency within its own borders. The offensive has drawn international condemnation and threats of possible US sanctions.
The Turkish operation also caused protest marches across European nations, who call on the country to cease unilateral military action in Syria. Besides, France warned Ankara that its military operation in Syria is threatening European security and said that it had suspended all weapon sales to Turkey.
As for the United States, they could increase their support to the Kurds by limiting arm sales to Turkey and increasing pressure on the country over reports of human rights abuses during the military offensive.