ANKARA – On Sunday, Turkey dismissed allegations of its strikes in Syria, which might have affected the US-led coalition forces allegedly battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL or Daesh).
“Our troops are continuing to demine areas as part of Operation Peace Spring. Media reports that troops of the members of the coalition, which might be deployed in the region, came under shelling, are not true,” the Turkish National Defense Ministry said in a statement, TASS reported.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish news agency Firat reported earlier on Sunday that Turkish artillery conducted strikes against the border settlements of Rashidiyah and al-Kasimiyah. According to the agency, a Thai doctor, who worked with the mission of Doctors Without Borders international humanitarian organization, was killed in the raid.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Turkish government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle.
Ankara’s incursion into Syria triggered an outcry in the region and across the world. Damascus slammed the operation as an act of aggression, and the international community condemned Erdogan’s military operation.
On October 17, the United States and Turkey struck a deal to pause fighting. Turkey agreed to a 120-hour ceasefire so that Kurdish forces incorporated in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition could withdraw from the cross-border ‘safety area’ that Ankara seeks to set up.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan signed a memorandum at a summit in Sochi on joint efforts in northeastern Syria. Kurdish military units were given 150 hours to withdraw from the 30-kilometer-deep area along the Turkish border. On November 1, the Russian and Turkish troops began joint patrols along the northern border of Syria.