On Friday evening, Turkey President Erdogan dismissed mounting international criticism of the operation and said Turkey “will not stop it, no matter what anyone says” as devastating airstrikes hit northeast Syria. The US had claimed Turkish strikes had caused “great harm”, with Trump this week threatening to ‘decimate’ the economy in Turkey with sanctions. The Pentagon said US troops came under artillery fire near Kobani, 37 miles west of the main area of conflict. The fire was from Turkish Army positions according to Washington, but the Turkish Ministry of defence has denied this as the relations between the two countries deteriorates.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry said its forces did not open fire at the US base and took all precautions to prevent any harm to it while it was responding to fire from a nearby area by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said: “US and coalition soldiers were definitely not hit. Indeed the necessary coordination is being carried out by our headquarters and the Americans.”
Erdogan sent troops to the Turkey-Syria border this week to establish what he calls a ‘safe-zone’, stating a need to remove terrorist activity in the region.
But the Turkish military have caused upheaval in northeast Syria as a result, attacking Kurdish forces that have been left to fend for themselves after Washington decided to withdraw troops to prevent a military clash with Turkey who is a NATO ally.
The chaos resulting from the conflict in the region has also had consequences in the effort to defeat terror cult ISIS, of whom many fighters have been detained in prison camps in the region.
With US troops withdrawn and Kurdish fighters under fire, Syrian Democratic Forces have claimed five ISIS fighters have escaped a prison in Qamishli city.
Meanwhile, women affiliated with ISIS attacked security officers with sticks and stones during unrest at a camp in the region where Turkey has launched attacks.
The unrest at al-Hawl started in the foreigners’ section and involved more people than previous incidents at the camp.
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The placement of the missiles in Ankara has caused fears that Moscow can gather intelligence on NATO weapons such as the F-35 fighter jet.
Defence Secretary in Washington Mark Esper urged Turkey to ‘pick a side’ between its allies in the West and newfound friendship with Vladimir Putin.
Erdogan responded in defiant fashion accusing the US of hypocrisy for trying to restrict other countries’ weapons arsenal.