Turkey gains ground in key Syria border town: monitor

Dunya News

Turkey gains ground in key Syria border town: monitor

BEIRUT (AFP) - Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies gained ground Thursday in Ras al-Ain, a key border town where Kurdish fighters had been putting up stiff resistance, a war monitor said.

"There have been intensive air strikes on Ras al-Ain over the past three days," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

Turkish forces and the mostly Arab and Turkmen former rebels they use as a ground force had "taken about half of the town" by Thursday morning, he said.

Massively outgunned by the Turkish army and its airforce, Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) quickly lost a long stretch of border when the assault was launched on October 9.

They organised a defence of Ras al-Ain however with a dense network of tunnels, berms and trenches that held off Turkish forces and their proxies for about a week.

An AFP correspondent on the Turkish side of the Ras al-Ain front line said the sound of gunfire and blasts from artillery and air strikes was constant.

Turkey wants to create a 30-kilometre-deep buffer on the Syrian side of the border to keep Kurdish militias at bay and set up a resettlement zone for some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living on its soil.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far ignored international pressure to halt the offensive, which has left dozens of civilians dead and displaced more than 300,000 people, according to the Observatory.