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Turmoil Spreads in Kurdish-Held Syria as Turkish Invasion Enters 3rd Day

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled northeastern Syria since Turkish forced began advancing into the region earlier this week. Turkey claims that the campaigns aims to fight terrorism in the region and to create a “safe zone.” However, analysts say that the regime of President Tayyip Erdogan aims to defeat the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US ally that was instrumental in defeating Islamic State in Syria earlier this year. The SDF says that 23 of its fighters have died so far, but Turkey claims to have killed as many as 342 “terrorists.”

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. Experts are warning that 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. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed doubt that either Turkey or Syria would be able of safely detaining thousands of Islamic State prisoners in prison camps that were previously run by the SDF. Kurdish authorities evacuated two camps containing relatives of Islamic State fighters on Friday.

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