Turkish forces took control of their first town in northern Syria on Saturday, the defense ministry said, as the country’s offensive intensifies.The Turkish military tweeted that it had seized Ras al-Ain on the border “as a result of ongoing successful operations within the scope of the Peace Spring Operation.”But the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) disputed this, with commander Mervan Qamishlo telling Reuters that the group had conducted a “tactical retreat” from one neighborhood of Ras Al Ain, before “very fierce clashes” restarted.
It comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched the incursion into Syria to drive Kurdish forces — a key US ally against ISIS — away from the border and to use the area to resettle around 2 million Syrian refugees.Dozens of civilians have been killed since Turkey began launching airstrikes and artillery fire across the border. And according to the SDF, 45 of its fighters have been killed since Wednesday. It also says its resistance killed 118 Turkish-backed forces on Friday.
An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the military offensive, according to the United Nations on Friday.There has been growing concerns since the beginning of the operation that Turkey might be pushing to gain more control of the nation, according to a US official familiar with the situation in Syria.