Turkey Battles Syrian Kurds for Control of Key Border Town

Turkish forces claim they've taken Ras al-Ayn's center

The Turkish military has reported an ongoing offensive of the key Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn, claiming to have captured the town’s residential center. They dubbed this their biggest gain sine crossing into Syria on Wednesday.

After crossing into Syrian Kurdish territory, Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies surrounded Ras al-Ayn and another nearby town, Tel Abyad. The two towns are in the “safe zone” Turkey intends to occupy, and are have Arab majority populations, which the rebels believe will offer them a new stronghold to base operations out of.

This territory which is being invaded was part of ISIS-dominated Syria, which the Kurdish forces took over in US-backed offensives over the past two years. Turkey has long objected to increasing the size of Kurdish-held territory in Syria, and had been threatening this invasion for over a year.

Turkish officials maintain that the offensive is only going to stretch the 30 km across the border that covers the safe zone. The US is urging Turkey to stop, and threatening sanctions, but withdrew most troops from the area, and is not directly threatening to stop Turkey.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.