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11 Oct 2019 | 05:13 AM UTC

Syria: Ground fighting reported in northeastern Syria October 11 /update 4

Ground fighting underway between SDF and Turkish troops in northeastern Syria October 11; Turkish Defense Ministry claims 277 dead among Kurdish fighters

security
SYR

Event

Intense fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkish combatants in northeastern Syria was reported on the morning (local time) of Friday, October 11. The fighting is localized on several fronts along a 120 km (75 mi) front at the Turkish-Syrian border, with a focus on the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tell Abiad as of Friday. Turkish troops have reportedly gained 11 villages located near the border before Kurdish fighters recaptured two of them. The Turkish offensive includes artillery fire, airstrikes, and ground attacks.

The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that 277 Kurdish fighters were killed since the beginning of the offensive on Wednesday, October 9. A Turkish soldier was also reportedly killed, and three others were injured as of Friday. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said more than 60,000 people have reportedly fled their homes in northeastern Syria.

A heightened security presence is expected in northeastern Syria over the coming days and weeks. Violent clashes between opposing security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on October 5, that Turkey will launch a military operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to expel Syrian Kurdish (People's Protection Units; YPG) forces from the Turkish border. Erdoğan stated that the air and ground operations will extend 30 km (19 mi) into Syria's northeastern border. Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group in Turkey.

The offensive comes days after US President Donald Trump announced a US military pullback in the region.

Advice

Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.

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