Turkish offensive violates global law, says German Foreign Minister

Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria in Ceylanpinar Sanliurfa province southeastern Turkey smoke billows from fires in Ras al-Ayn Syria Sunday Oct. 20 2019. Turkey's defense ministry says one soldie

Then, on Sunday, Redur Khalil a senior Syrian Kurdish official said his forces will pull back in line with Turkey's demands and said they planned to evacuate the remaining civilians and fighters from the town of Ras al-Ain.

Redur Khalil of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been supplied US weaponry in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in the region, said late on October 19 that SDF troops will move back 30 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border in a 120-kilometer stretch between Ras al-Ayn and Tal Aybad if the evacuations are permitted of those cities. But Sunday's attack has underlined how fragile the agreement is.

Khalil said a partial evacuation happened earlier Saturday from Ras al-Ayn after much stalling and with USA coordination.

The ceasefire deal only calls for fighters to leave the border area.

Turkish backed fighters and Kurdish forces clashed on Saturday with some claiming the Turkish border was crossed and a village attacked. Those fighters, who are Arab and often Islamist extremists, have been accused of killings of Kurdish civilians and captured fighters during this campaign and in other Syrian territory seized in Turkish campaigns since 2017.

The Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels captured the city of Ras al-Ayn in the countryside of Hasakah Province in northeastern Syria on Sunday.

Turkish and Kurdish leaders accused each other of violating a US-brokered truce in north-eastern Syria, even as it appeared to be taking hold on its second day yesterday.

Turkey's defence ministry said late on Saturday that it was closely monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG and that it was in close contact with USA officials over the issue and to provide logistical information. Turkish officials have denied they were preventing the withdrawal of any fighters.

Turkish forces returned fire in self-defence, it added. The SDF said 16 of its fighters had been killed and three wounded the past 24 hours.

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That brought the Turkish military's death toll to seven soldiers since it launched its offensive on October 9.

This is the first time the Kurdish force has publicly acknowledged it will withdraw from the border, saying it has coordinated it with the Americans.

The monitor group said on Friday that the civilian death toll from the Turkish operation had now risen to 86.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that this ceasefire lasts longer than five days and puts a halt to the invasion for the time being", Mr. Maas said.

US officials have noted this plan remains fluid and can change at any time.

Just as the 120-hour US-Turkey brokered truce is set to end on Tuesday, Erdogan will meet in the Black Sea city of Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key backer of the regime in Damascus.

The correspondent in Tal Tamr saw more than 70 United States armoured vehicles escorted by helicopters drive eastwards on the highway, some flying the American flag. It says any presence of the group along its borders is an existential threat. Turkey also wants to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees now on its soil in the border "safe zone".

More than 250 SDF fighters - the de facto army of Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria - and 190 pro-Ankara fighters have lost their lives over the same period, it says.

So far, the Syrian forces have only moved into one location directly on the border, the town of Kobani, and a few positions further south.

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