Alwaght- Turkey-backed Syrian opposition militias have reportedly seized Ras Al Ain town in northeast Syria as the Turkish operation against the Syrian Kurdish groups entered its fourth day.
“The (Syrian rebel) national army took control of the town center this morning. Inspections are being conducted in residential areas,” a Syrian opposition official was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The battle for the Kurdish-controlled town raged as Ankara pushed ahead with its Operation Peace Spring in the east of the Euphrates region amid an outcry by the US and the EU.
But the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the People’s Protection Units (YPG) comprises the main fighting element, swiftly denied losing the center of Ras Al Ain.
Marvan Qamishlo, an SDF spokesman, said Turkish-backed forces had entered the town’s industrial district following hours of heavy Turkish shelling that had forced the SDF into a “tactical retreat” from that area.
Turkey said its operation was directed against the Kurdish militias it labels terrorist, mainly the YPG and the PKK, and also to establish a safe zone to facilitate the return of the Syrian refugees for years accommodated by a Turkish camp on the border.
The Turkish assault has raised alarm about its humanitarian fall-out. The regional Kurdish-led administration in Syria’s northeast said nearly 200,000 people had been displaced as a result, while the U.N. World Food Programme put the figure at more than 100,000 in the towns of Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ain, Reuters reported.
Turkey launched its campaign against the Kurds on Wednesday, a day after the US President Donald Trump said he removed from Syria’s north his forces.
The Kurdish groups, who have been working in alliance with the US against the ISIS terrorist group since 2014, said that the American leader betrayed them by his pullout decision.
The US Secretary of Treasury yesterday said Trump gave him broad powers to consider sanctions against Turkey. Congressmen also have been pushing for an anti-Turkish bill as Erdogan last week said the operation could start at any moment.