Kurds say repulsed new Turkish ground push

QAMISHLI, Syria (AFP) – Kurdish forces said they repulsed a fresh Turkish ground attack in northeastern Syria yesterday, a day after Ankara launched a cross-border assault that has drawn international condemnation.

Turkey bombarded targets in Kurdish-controlled areas on Wednesday to pave the way for an invasion Ankara says is aimed at establishing a buffer zone inside Syria.

Turkish forces attempted a ground assault on the border town of Tal Abyad on Wednesday but the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the autonomous Kurdish administration’s de facto army – said they repulsed the attack.

Yesterday, the SDF said they held off another incursion attempt in the Ras al-Ain area, further east.

Our forces “confronted a field incursion attempt by the Turkish occupation army on the axis of Tal Halaf and Aluk,” the SDF said in a statement.

The Turkish defence ministry insisted the operation was going as planned.

“The Peace Spring Operation was successfully conducted overnight, from the air and on the ground,” it said in a statement.

“The designated targets were captured,” it added, without specifying what they were.

Turkish media reports suggest the main goal of the operation is to create what Ankara calls a “safe zone” over an area about 30 kilometres deep and stretching about 120 kilometres along the border between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

Turkey’s troops and Syrian proxies have yet to enter either of the two towns but are moving into surrounding villages and countryside.

The area is less densely populated than other Kurdish-controlled areas and mainly Arab.

AFP correspondents on the Turkish side of the border said yesterday that dozens of vehicles carrying Syrian former rebels fighting for Ankara crossed into Syria.

Civilians flee with their belongings amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border. PHOTO: AFP