Sunday 22 September 2019

Turks 'push troops' to town held by Kurds in north Syria

James Mattis with US President Donald Trump. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis
James Mattis with US President Donald Trump. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis

Sarah El-Deeb

Turkey is massing troops near a town in northern Syria held by a US-backed and Kurdish-led force, a war monitor has said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed Turkish reinforcements have been sent to the front line near Manbij, where US troops have been based. It said 50 vehicles crossed into Syria - carrying troops and equipment.

The build-up comes even though Turkey said it would delay a promised offensive in eastern Syria in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops earlier this week.

The Trump decision surprised his allies and own experts, sparking the resignation of two of his top aides.

Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he "deeply regrets" Mr Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned it could have dangerous consequences.

Ally

Mr Macron showered praise on US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in the wake of Mr Trump's move. "An ally should be reliable, co-ordinate with other allies. Mattis understood this," Mr Macron said.

He added the troop withdrawal endangers Kurdish fighters, who were instrumental in the US-led coalition's fight against Isil militants.

"We should not forget... what we owe to those who died on the ground fighting terrorism," he said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. "The SDF is fighting against the terrorism that fomented attacks against Paris and elsewhere... I call on everyone not to forget what they have done."

Kurdish officials met an adviser to Mr Macron, with one asking France to play a larger role in Syria following the American withdrawal.

Irish Independent

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