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Last weekend headlines in most media around the world announced that Turkey had captured Serekaniye/Ras al-Ain where it planned to begin its ethnic cleansing zone. TOTALLY FALSE, the media has fallen again for Erdogan’s Propaganda machine.
16th Oct 2019 ”There is a fierce ongoing combat in Ras al-Ain, with the SDF mounting fierce defence using tunnels and trenches”, Ras al-Ain may be a small border town but it is key in Turkey’s plan to start ethnic cleansing along the border east of the Euphrates River
However latest reports say that the agreement of SDF with Syria/Russia to stop the Turkish genocide does NOT INCLUDE the area between Serekaniye/Ras al-Ain and Tell Abyad. So the Turkish attack may continue until the town is a mass grave in a heap of rubble.
Since the launch of the operation, Turkey and its allied Syrian rebel forces have managed to occupy a number of villages along the border region, according to the Turkish propaganda machine (almost all independent media are suppressed)…
Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ayn), occupied since neolithic times,
However, the town of Ras al-Ain has held out, with battles raging on Wednesday. The area seems to be chosen as it is has a large Arabic community, maybe thinking they could be less hostile. However local Arab tribal leaders also demonstrated strongly before the thinly disguised invasion.
Al Jazeera reporters along the border said heavy gunfire and artillery fire was still heard across the city Wednesday amid a “fierce” battle for its control, with Kurdish fighters burning tyres in a bid to blind Turkey’s fighter jets and digging in against a ground offensive by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
“The fighting today in Ras al-Ain has been intense,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Ceylanpinar on the Turkey-Syria border. “The situation is incredibly tense.”
Smoke rises over Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar [Murad
Serekaniye demonstration before ‘ethnic cleansing’ invasion’Down with the occupation’ Syrian Kurds protest
Kurdish Fighters Mount Counterattack Using Network of Tunnels
The Syrian Democratic Forces have recaptured some territory from Turkish-backed forces.
By Lara Seligman | October 15, 2019, 12:16 PM
As Turkey continues its onslaught of northeast Syria, the Syrian Kurds are using a sophisticated network of tunnels and other battlefield tactics to recapture some of the territory seized by Turkish-backed forces, Foreign Policy has learned.
Four current and former U.S. officials who have worked closely with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed that the group built a defensive network of tunnels beneath key towns throughout northeast Syria as a contingency against a Turkish invasion. Now, with U.S. troops evacuated and no U.S. air support, the Kurdish fighters are successfully using the tunnels to defend the border towns.
The US had guaranteed the SDF protection on condition they dismantle and bulldoze their defensive works and allow Tirkish/US patrols, only to suddenly announce a pullout. But even so the SDF heroes are resisting the last woman/man in the style of Kobani against ISIS.
The Kurdish fighters “are famous for developing innovative ways to fight a more advanced army,” said a senior U.S. administration official, adding that “the Turks have been surprised by their effectiveness.”
In the last 24 hours (Tuesday 15th Oct 2019), the SDF has recaptured much of the border town of Ras al-Ain and pushed Turkish proxy forces from the strategic M4 highway, which runs through northern Syria and Iraq, according to a source with the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the SDF’s political arm.
During the battle for Ras al-Ain, the SDF ‘has killed 103 fighters with the Free Syrian Army’, a decentralized band of Syrian rebels, paid by the Turkish regime, with links to violent extremist groups, the source said.
Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the SDF’s commander in chief, was seen in Ras al-Ain last night after it was recaptured, the SDC source said.
The Syrian observatory for Human Rights also reported that the SDF managed to recover the area after heavy fighting.
But as the violence continues, other key border areas are still mostly under Turkish control, including Tell Abyad and a town adjacent to Ras al-Ain, the SDC source said Tuesday morning after confirming with the team on the ground.
Meanwhile, the rapid U.S. withdrawal has created an opening for Russia to move in. Russian troops began patrolling in and around the strategic city of Manbij, which U.S. troops evacuated Monday. Manbij sits on the M4, directly west of a key bridge over the Euphrates River.
The Russian entry into Manbij and Kobane has saved , for now, the two key cities of the multi-ethnic Rojava Revolution from imminent battle with the Turkish army and jihadi mercenaries, as well as from direct control by the anti-kurdish Syrian Arab Army
The developments come hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced new sanctions on Turkey in response to the bloody onslaught. Trump said he spoke to both Mazloum and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, and he got Erdogan’s commitment not to attack Kobani, another strategic border town controlled by the SDF. If Erdogan keeps his word, that is seen as the first step toward a cease-fire.
(Update: As of Tuesday evening, Turkish troops are attacking Kobani and kidnapping civilians, the U.S. representative of the Syrian Democratic Council told Foreign Policy.)
In an effort to arbitrate between Ankara and the Kurds, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will lead a delegation to Turkey. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Mark Esper will travel to Brussels next week, where he will press NATO allies to respond.
In the meantime, the SDF is using sophisticated battlefield tactics to put up a fight. The group began seriously working on the tunnels after Turkey seized Afrin in a bloody 2018 incursion, according to a U.S. Army officer who fought alongside the group in Syria. Some of the tunnels, which are located beneath the border towns and Manbij, another strategic outpost, lead backward to a secondary line of defense.
“The SDF found that they had no defense against Turkish air power, so they built tunnels along the border that they could fight out of,” the officer said, noting that U.S. troops conducted several rehearsals with the group on how to coordinate in the event of a Turkish invasion. U.S. forces also trained the SDF on how to build what is called a “defense in depth”—defense with multiple fallback lines—without committing fratricide, the officer said.
The tunnels are defensive in nature—contrary to Turkish claims, said another U.S. Army officer who fought in Syria with the SDF.
The SDF is also skilled in employing improvised anti-tank mines and using inventive modes of transportation to move troops around the region, including school buses and pickup trucks, the officer said.
Our spirit is high commander Donna in Sêrekaniyê
Commander Sîdar Qamişlo said: “Yesterday there was a very violent attack against us. It started at 10 in the morning and we were surrounded.
Warplanes also bombed us. 7 to 8 of our friends were injured. Only four of us were unharmed. We remained surrounded until 2 am the next day. We got through the siege and rescued our wounded friends. We ensured their safety. Then we started the operation again and took control of the occupied points.”
The tunnels and other defenses were likely set up as part of Kurdish preparations for an eventual U.S. withdrawal, indicated by Trump’s December 2018 tweet announcing a U.S. withdrawal from Syria. Ambassador James Jeffrey made remarks around the same time that the United States does not “have permanent relationships with substate entities.”
A former U.S. Army officer who also worked with the SDF in Syria also confirmed the group built tunnels as a contingency against a Turkish invasion but was not optimistic the group can hold territory for long against the Turks without “a conventional backer”—such as Russia or Assad’s army.
The former officer noted that Turkish-backed forces are gaining ground much more quickly during the ongoing assault than they did during the campaign in Afrin, which was primarily carried out by the Turkish army.
Still, regaining some control of the M4 is a major strategic victory for the SDF, the former officer said, because the group uses the highway to quickly shuttle troops and heavy equipment from safe areas to the battlefield.
“That road is their lifeline,” the former officer said.
This article was updated Oct. 15, 2019 to reflect continuing developments.
Lara Seligman is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @laras
Serekaniye’s heroic recent history
Erdogan unilaterally provoked the end the Peace Process instigated by the imprisoned Kurdish leader Ocalan, and bombed and burned Kurdish cities like Cizre and Nusaybin , inside Turkey but just a few kilometers from where Turkey now invades Rojava with US compliance.
The town of Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ayn) has a big Arabic community, yet it has suffered heavily from Turkey and the population has supported the SDF coalition. Before the invasion it had continuous demonstrations denouncing the Turkish threats..
Serêkaniyê (Ras al Ayn) was already famous for it epic liberation from a Turkish supported rebel occupation which morphed into extreme fundamentalist terror.
In July 2013, the battle’s final phase erupted and ended when an alliance of Kurdish leftist PYD-led troops (including Syrian government loyalists) completely expelled the Al Qaeda rebels from Ras al-Ayn. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ras_al-Ayn
Right now the town is still resisting the Turkish army of 700,000 as well as its Jihadi mercenaries and is threatened again by the Turkish Hitler with a return of social relations ‘to the middle ages’.
Horrific Chemical Weapons Used in Sêrekaniyê
Unable to break through the resistance in Serêkaniyê, the Turkish state forces have attacked the people with prohibited weapons.
Hesekê Public Hospital Doctor Faris Hemo denounced the use of prohibited arms by Turkish forces in their ongoing military offensive seeking to invade North and East Syria.Speaking to Hawar News Agency (ANHA), doctor Hemo said that they have been treating dozens of civilians who have suffered injuries in the attacks ongoing for a week now. He pointed out that the way civilians were injured exposed the use of prohibited arms by the Turkish forces.
Noting that civilians were mainly injured by artillery fire that caused burns on their bodies, Hemo said; “When examining the patients with injuries today, however, we have seen that the burns were of a different type. Despite the fact that we cannot establish exactly what weapon has caused these burns, we can say that the Turkish state has used chemical weapons.” ANHA
TEV-DEM Executive Board Member Aldar Xelîl said that prohibited weapons containing phosphorus and napalm have been used in Serêkaniyê, attacked by the invading Turkish army. ANF
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