Turkey-led strikes kill 14 civilians in northeast Syria

October 18, 2019

Turkish-led bombardment on Friday killed 14 civilians in northeastern Syria, as Turkey’s president threatened to broaden his assault and an hours-old US-brokered deal already appeared to crumble.

A war monitor said Turkish air strikes and mortar fire by its Syrian proxies killed 14 civilians, appearing to dash the ceasefire announced late Thursday.

That deal was meant to provide a five-day pause for the evacuation of Kurdish fighters from the battleground border town of Ras al-Ain and other areas Turkey wants to control along its border with Syria.

“If the promises are kept until Tuesday evening, the safe zone issue will be resolved,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

“If it fails, the operation … will start the minute 120 hours are over,” he said.

The suspension looked designed to help Turkey achieve its main territorial goals without fighting, but its Syrian proxies continued to clash with Kurdish fighters on Friday.

The 14 civilians were killed in Turkish airstrikes and mortar fire by allied Syrian fighters on and around the village of Bab al-Kheir, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based war monitor said eight fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces — the de facto army of the embattled Kurdish autonomous region — were killed in the strikes.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said Turkey was clearly violating the terms of the agreement reached during a Thursday visit to Ankara by US Vice President Mike Pence.

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