Claims and Counter-claims Dominate Turkey’s Syria Incursion
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces say a Kurdish politician was killed in an ambush on Saturday as part of Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria. The politician, identified as Hervin Khalaf, was returning from a meeting. Her driver and an aide were also said to have been killed. A Syrian rights group claims that in all, nine civilians were killed in the ambush, saying it was the work of a Syrian militia backed by Turkey. Nevertheless, a spokesman for the militia told the Reuters news agency that its fighters had not yet reached the area in question. Meanwhile, the militia says it entered the border town of Ras al Ain on Saturday and took its commercial district, although Kurdish militia sources deny the claim. Ankara’s avowed goal in its Syrian offensive, which began on Wednesday, is to defeat the Kurds, claiming their fighters provide aid and assistance to outlawed Kurdish groups inside Turkey. It also seeks to establish what it calls a “safe zone” for many of the 3.6 million Syrians who have found refuge in Turkey since the beginning of Syria’s civil war, now in its ninth year.