Turkish forces push 8km deeper into Syrian territory held mainly by the Kurdish fighters on fourth day of offensive.
Heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses ahead with its military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, now in its third day.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” so millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.
Turkey’s defence ministry confirmed the first fatality among Turkey’s soldiers on Friday, while heavy clashes between Turkish forces and the SDF are under way in the Syrian border towns.
Here are the latest updates:
Saturday, October 12
Arab League SG says Turkey’s Syria offensive “invasion” of Arab land
The Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has called Turkey’s military operation in northeast Syria an “invasion of an Arab state’s land and an aggression on its sovereignty”.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, president of the current Arab League session, also condemned Turkey’s offensive into Syria during an emergency meeting for the body, called by Egypt.
He called on the League to reinstate Syria’s membership in the body.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels seize Ras al-Ain town centre
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have seized control of Ras al Ain’s town centre in northeast Syria, a senior Turkish security official said as Turkey’s offensive against a Kurdish militia in the region entered its fourth day.
“The (Syrian rebel) national army took control of the town centre this morning. Inspections are being conducted in residential areas,” the official said.
The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied the reports.
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters take control of district in Hassakeh
Turkish state media and Syrian activists have said that Turkey-backed Syrian fighters took control of Al Senea district, the first district in Hassakeh’s Ras al-Ain.
The developments took place after Turkey-backed Syrian rebels took over parts of the strategic M4 highway in northern Syria following heavy clashes with the Kurdish People’s Protection Unints (YPG) forces.
Turkey says 14 villages ‘liberated’ in northeast Syria
Turkey’s military has said that 14 Syrian villages have so far been liberated from “terrorists” as part of its offensive against Kurdish fighters in the northeast.
The military added that 73 fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) group have been “neutralised” in the last eight hours. Meanwhile, Turkey’s ministry of defence said 399 YPG fighters have been “neutralised” since the beginning of the operation.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralised” to imply that fighters either surrendered, or were killed or captured. The Kurds disputed the number, saying only 29 of their fighters were dead.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s ministry of defence also said three of its soldiers were killed, while three others were wounded.
France’s Macron calls for end to Turkish assault in Syria
France and the United States have agreed to remain in close contact over Turkey’s escalating campaign in northern Syria, French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said, adding that he had stressed the need to try to end the offensive in a phone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump late on Friday.
“France and the United States, which share common concerns, will coordinate closely in the coming days,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.