Thousands of 'Betrayed' Kurds Flee Offensive

Turkey says it has lost one soldier and 'neutralized' hundreds of 'terrorists'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2019 5:19 AM CDT
More Than 60K Flee Turkish Offensive in Syria
Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.   (AP Photo)

More than 60,000 people in northern Syria have fled a Turkish offensive that is now in its third day, aid groups say. Turkish forces pushed further into the region Thursday, carrying out air and ground attacks against Syrian Kurdish fighters, reports Reuters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 23 Syrian Defense Force fighters have been killed, while Turkey says 277 "terrorists" have been "neutralized." Turkey also says one of its soldiers was "martyred." The SDF says at least nine civilians have been killed by Turkish airstrikes, while Turkey says mortar fire from Kurdish forces has killed six people, including a baby, in Turkish border towns. Turkey says it plans to go no further than 19 miles into Syria.

Amid international criticism of the offensive, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the European Union not to call it an "invasion," the AP reports. He threatened to "open the gates" and allow tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into Europe. The Kurdish militia was America's ally in the fight against ISIS, and many of those fleeing the Turkish offensive say they feel betrayed, the Guardian reports. "Betrayal leaves the bitterest taste," said a man waiting to leave Qamishli, the region's biggest city. "I am 63 years old and I have never seen anything like this," he said. "Before there was regime oppression and now we are getting betrayal. This is worse." President Trump tweeted Thursday that he will hit Turkey "very hard financially" if they don't "play by the rules." (On Wednesday, he gave a bizarre reason for abandoning the Kurds.)

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