Kurds stand fast in border fight as Turkey ignores US

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 16 Oct 2019

Kurdish forces held out in a key border town yesterday, seven days into a deadly Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria that has caused mass displacement and reshaped the political map.

The United States slapped sanctions on its NATO ally in a bid to stop an assault that its own troop withdrawal from the area triggered but Ankara showed no sign of relenting.

Using a dense network of tunnels and trenches, Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces have been mounting a desperate defense of Ras al-Ain. Since launching their assault on October 9, Turkish-backed forces have secured more than 100 kilometers of border, but Ras al-Ain has held out.

US President Donald Trump announced a pullback from the border last week, a move which was widely interpreted as accepting a long-planned Turkish invasion. The offensive has left dozens of civilians dead and forced out 160,000.

US Vice President Mike Pence said he would travel to Turkey soon and Trump had asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop the offensive.

In a bid to force Turkey's hand, Washington slapped sanctions on its defense, interior and energy ministers, freezing their US assets and making US transactions with them a crime. "I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path," said Trump.

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