Turkey says 109 militants killed in advance into northeast Syria
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that his forces have killed 109 “terrorists” while advancing into northeastern Syria in order to create a “safe zone.” According to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US ally that was instrumental in defeating Islamic State in Syria earlier this year, Turkish airstrikes killed at least 5 civilians and 3 SDF combatants.
The Turkish offense is the result of US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull US troops out of northeastern Syria, a move that was slammed by the SDF as a stab in the back. Analysts warn the US withdrawal could play into the hands of major US adversaries including President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Russia, Iran and the Islamic State. Erdogan claimed that ISIS would not be able to increase its influence in the region as a result of the campaign. He also threatened the European Union that he would allow Syrian refugees in Turkey to relocate to Europe if the EU would label the military campaign as an “occupation.”