Syrian army moves to confront Turkish forces as U.S. withdraws
October 14, 2019 - Syrian government troops have moved into a series of towns and villages in northern Syria, setting up a potential clash with Turkish-led forces in the area, as U.S. troops prepared to pull out.
The Syrian army’s deployment near the Turkish border came hours after Syrian Kurdish forces previously allied with the U.S. said they had reached a deal with President Bashar Assad’s government to help fend off Turkey’s invasion, now in its sixth day.
The announcement of a deal between Syria’s Kurds and its government is a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly spreading chaos.
The shift sets up a potential clash between Turkey and Syria and raises the spectre of a resurgent Islamic State group as the U.S. relinquishes any remaining influence in northern Syria to Assad and his chief backer, Russia.
Turkey has pressed on with its invasion of northern Syria, warning its NATO allies in Europe and the United States not to stand in its way.
Turkish troops and Syrian proxy forces have steadily pushed their way south of the border, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 200 kilometres. The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.
Turkey’s president signalled that it was ready to launch an assault on the city of Manbij, where Kurdish-led groups invited Syrian government forces to re-enter and defend the town.
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