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Kurds Strike Deal with Syrian Army to Counter Turkey


Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pictured during preparations to join the front against Turkish forces, near the northern Syrian town of Hasakeh, Oct. 10, 2019.

Syrian forces entered a town near the Turkish border Monday, a day after reaching an agreement with Syrian Kurds to move into the region in an attempt to counter a Turkish invasion.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported Monday's troop movement in Tal Tamr, about 20 kilometers from the border, saying it was done to "confront the Turkish aggression" and was welcomed by the people there.

The extraordinary deal between the Kurds, Syria, and Russia -- Syria's main ally -- comes four days after Turkish forces moved against the Kurds in northern Syria after nearly all U.S. forces pulled out.

Turkey regards the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as terrorists aligned with separatists inside Turkey.

"In order to prevent and block this assault, agreement has been reached with the Syrian government whose duty is to protect the borders and Syrian sovereignty, for the Syrian army to enter and deploy along the length of the Syrian-Turkish border," a Kurdish statement said.

Syrian Kurds say they feel totally forsaken by the United States after fighting side-by-side with U.S. forces against Islamic State extremists in Syria. They also believe much of the Arab world and the U.N. Security Council are ignoring them.

"We had to find a you see what has happened to us and they don't want to support us," the defense minister of the Kurdish city of Kobani, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, said Sunday. "Again, we should not trust anybody. We should rely on ourselves. Every Kurd should carry a gun and prepare himself.”

With the United States moving to withdraw all of its remaining troops from northern Syria, President Donald Trump said Sunday, "Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change."

FILE - U.S. troops are seen behind the Turkish border walls in northern Syria, Sept. 8, 2019.
FILE - U.S. troops are seen behind the Turkish border walls in northern Syria, Sept. 8, 2019.

"The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years," he wrote on Twitter. "Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!"

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News Sunday there will be a "deliberate withdrawal" of the last 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria

"We pushed back on Turkey to not do this operation," Esper said. But he said Turkey was "fully committed to do this no matter what we did."

"This is part of the terrible situation that Turkey has put us in," Esper said, adding that the U.S. "didn't sign up to fight Turkey, a long-time ally, on behalf of the Kurds."

Trump said he was working with congressional leaders, including opposition Democrats, to impose "powerful" economic sanctions against Turkey for its cross-border attacks.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint news conference that Turkey is risking an "unbearable humanitarian situation."

The World Health Organization said Monday it is "gravely concerned about the humanitarian health situation in northeast Syria."

It said the military operations have already displaced 200,000 people since last week, and that there are fewer health workers able to provide services due to displacement and health providers suspending operations.