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Fire engulfs border between Turkey and Syria amid battles between the Turkish Armed Forces and militants in the city of Ras al-Ayn. 12 October 2019 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Turkey Continues 'Operation Peace Spring' in Northeastern Syria

On 9 October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria. Ankara claimed the military operation, which has widely been condemned by the international community, aims to clear a 30-35 kilometre-wide (18-22 miles) 'zone' along Turkey’s border with Syria.

Numerous countries have criticised Turkey for its latest military operation against Syria; Ankara moved troops into the northeast of the country in the wake of a US military pull-out from the region, where Washington had been helping predominantly Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defeat Daesh*. Most of these fighters are part of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers to be terrorists.

Damascus has condemned what it has called an act of foreign aggression, and has moved in to make amends with the Kurds so that they could defend Syria's borders together. Additionally, many foreign powers are opposed to the operation. Syria's allies Iran and Russia, which alongside Turkey were co-guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire as a result of the Astana Peace Talks, have both demanded that Ankara respect Syria's sovereignty; Tehran has demanded that Erdogan immediately stop the offensive and withdraw from the country.

Even nations which generally oppose Damascus, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, have already embargoed arms exports to Turkey, while others have threatened to proceed with political and economic measures aimed at halting Ankara's offensive.

Meanwhile, Erdogan is planning to visit Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi to hold talks on the ongoing Syria operation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 22 October, as the Turkish presidential administration announced on Wednesday.

*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia

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20:42 GMT 17.10.2019

The Kurdish National Council in Syria, an umbrella group of most of the Kurdish parties in the country, welcomes the temporary ceasefire in northern Syrian, agreed by the United States and Turkey, the vice president of the council, Abdul Hakim Bashar, said, adding that there is still an array of unresolved problems.

"The ceasefire is such great news which will help all parties to avoid the death of innocent people, relocation and destruction of the region. I hope that the ceasefire will be on an ongoing basis in accordance with the Turkish-American consensus. However, unanswered questions remain," Hakim Bashar said.

According to him, it is unclear what will happen after the ceasefire expires. The questions are related to the future control over local civilian populations, the fate of municipalities belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and other issues.

"What kind of military protection the 'safe zone' will have, and who will manage it at the civilian level — these are not clear," he added.

20:41 GMT 17.10.2019

Units of Kurdish militia are ready to withdraw from the Syrian-Turkish border to protect the local population, Riad Darar, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD), said on Thursday.

"Until now, negotiations have been held exclusively between the US vice president and the Turkish foreign minister, we do not have the details. It is important for us to come to such an agreement so that no one gets hurt and the fire is stopped, so that our people continue to be safe," Darar said.

"We are located at a distance of five kilometers [from the border with Turkey], and in some areas - at a distance of 14 kilometers, it’s not a problem for us to move a little farther away to protect our people," he stressed.

20:40 GMT 17.10.2019

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomes the five-day ceasefire in northern Syria agreed by the United States and Turkey, while recognizing that significant effort would still be required to resolve the country's crisis, his spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Secretary-General welcomes any effort to de-escalate the situation and protect civilians, in line with the UN Charter and international humanitarian law,” the statement said. “The Secretary-General recognizes that there is still a long way to go for an effective solution to the crisis in Syria.”

18:18 GMT 17.10.2019
17:58 GMT 17.10.2019
16:06 GMT 17.10.2019

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Turkish Red Crescent intends to continue providing aid to northern Syria, choosing the border city of Ras al-Ain, which was captured in the first days of Operation Peace Spring, as the destination of its next humanitarian convoy, according to the organisation’s president, Kerem Kinik.

"Regularly we will deliver the humanitarian aid. Now it is enough for one month to the downtown of Tal Abyad, but we are seeking to Ras al-Ain, so next convoy will be there," Kinik, who is also a vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said.

Ras al-Ain is one of the largest cities of the Hasakah province. Since the start of the Syrian armed conflict, the city has been de facto controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Earlier in the week, the Turkish Red Crescent shipped aid to Tell Abiad in Raqqa province. Both border cities were seized by Turkey over the weekend.

15:36 GMT 17.10.2019

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the situation in northeastern Syria by phone on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Issues related to the development of the situation in northeast Syria were discussed. A common opinion was expressed on the need to achieve a lasting and long-term stabilisation of the situation on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria through dialogue between Damascus and Ankara, as well as between by the Syrian authorities and representatives of the Syrian Kurds," it said.

14:50 GMT 17.10.2019
13:33 GMT 17.10.2019

A Sputnik correspondent reports that the Syrian government army raised the Syrian flag this afternoon over the Kobani border post, which it entered yesterday.

The flag is visible from the Turkish border. According to the correspondent, the appearance of the Syrian flag in Kobani after seven years was cause for celebration among the local population.

Syria - Sputnik International
13:28 GMT 17.10.2019

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday described Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria as unconcealed aggression, and stressed that Damascus would counter it by all legitimate means.

“The criminal Turkish aggression carried out by the Erdogan regime in Syria ... regardless of the false slogans, is an bald attack, to which Syria has already responded in several places, attacking Turkish agents and its terrorists," Assad said at a meeting with Iraqi national security adviser Falih al-Fayyad.

"Syria will continue to respond and counter all forms of this aggression in all regions of the country using all legitimate means," the Syrian president said in his first comment on Ankara's actions since the start of Turkey's Operation Peace Spring.

13:10 GMT 17.10.2019
11:25 GMT 17.10.2019
10:57 GMT 17.10.2019

According to a Sputnik correspondent citing sources in the region, fierce street clashes are taking place in the Syrian city of Ras al-Ain between Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) units and the formerly US-baked Syrian Democratic Forces. Puffs of dark smoke are visible above the city. Clashes are also occuring in the vicinity of Ayn Issa south of Kobani.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces are carrying out a massive tank and mortar bombardment of Kurdish positions in the Tell Abyad area.

Sputnik correspondent reports that reporters were banned from filming and taking photographs in the center of the border town of Ceylanpınar. Journalists are not allowed to approach the border; they can only record videos and take photographs on one hill, 4 km from the border.

Smoke billows from fires on targets in Syria - Sputnik International
10:17 GMT 17.10.2019
10:01 GMT 17.10.2019
09:49 GMT 17.10.2019

The Kremlin assesses the situation in the area of ​​Turkey’s military operation in Syria as tense, Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss this, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

“You know that the UN expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation, the flow of refugees to neighboring countries. Indeed, during a recent telephone conversation, President Putin also expressed concern about the possible humanitarian consequences of this operation. Our position is well known, it has not undergone any changes," Peskov said.

He said the situation in northeast Syria remained tense.

“This will, of course, be a very important issue on the agenda of the talks in Sochi on Tuesday between presidents Putin and Erdogan. At the same time, of course, as the presidents always do, they will use this meeting to compare positions on current issues of Russian-Turkish relations," Peskov said.

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