Turkey to begin Syria offensive ‘shortly’ despite mixed US signals

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AKCAKALE (AFP) – Turkey said Tuesday it would “shortly” begin an offensive into northern Syria as President Donald Trump insisted the United States had not abandoned its Kurdish allies by pulling forces out of the area.

Istanbul sent more armoured vehicles to the border with Syria, an AFP correspondent said, with a large convoy of dozens of vehicles seen in the Turkish town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Turkish forces were attacking near the border.

“The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on #SereKaniye Border with Turkey,” the SDF said in a tweet late Tuesday, referencing the key border town of Ras al-Ain.

It was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“There were no injuries to our forces. We didn’t respond to this unprovoked attack. We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE #Syria,” the SDF said.

Border skirmishes between Turkish and Kurdish forces have taken place before, and there was no indication the latest reported shelling was part of a broader offensive.

But Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director wrote in the Washington Post that Turkish military units would “cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly.”

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