Syrian army units move north to 'confront Turkish aggression'
Iran Press TV
Sun Oct 13, 2019 07:02PM
The Syrian army has dispatched several units to the northern part of the country to confront a ground offensive by the Turkish military and allied militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on border towns under the control of Kurdish communities.
Syria's official news agency SANA reported on Sunday evening that Syrian Arab Army units have begun moving to the territory "to confront Turkish army aggression."
The new development came after reports emerged noting that representatives from the Damascus government and the Kurdish-led and so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been holding talks in the strategic Hmeimim air base in Syria's western coastal province of Latakia.
Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party (KDPP) in Syria, told Reuters on Sunday that the talks were underway, expressing hope for a deal that would halt a Turkish attack.
Suleiman, however, did not say whether he or his party, which is independent from the SDF, had participated in the negotiations.
The top KDPP member went on to say that an agreement between the Syrian government delegates and the Kurds would "halt the ongoing war and especially its catastrophic and dangerous consequences," adding that the talks could be moved to Damascus.
"We have confirmed from the start of the (Turkish) invasion that we will study all options that could spare our people ethnic cleansing," Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, said when asked about the KDPP member's comments.
According to Reuters, Syrian government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Kurdish party leader 'killed in ambush' by Turkish-backed militants
Separately, a high-ranking Kurdish politician and party leader was killed in northeastern Syria.
Hevrin Khalaf, the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, was killed during an ambush by Turkish-backed FSA militants during an attempt to capture a point on the international M4 road, the Kurdish-Language Kurdistan 24 television news network reported.
Khalaf was reportedly killed on the road to the city of Qamishli,local media outlets added.
"A group of Turkish mercenaries tried to control the M4 road and killed many people, and Hevrin was one of them," Kurdistan 24 said.
Dozens of civilians killed, injured as Turkish jets bomb marketplace
Moreover, SANA reported that a large number of people have lost their lives and sustained serious injuries when Turkish fighter jets struck a commercial district in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah.
The report, citing local sources, said the military aircraft bombarded Souq al-Mughlaq marketplace in the town of Ras al-Ayn, claiming the lives of dozens of people. There were reportedly foreign journalists among the victims.
A video published on social media networks showed tens of injured people, with charred and mutilated bodies strewn everywhere.
525 terrorists 'neutralized' by Turkish operation
The Turkish Defense Ministry also said on Sunday that a total of 525 Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) had been neutralized ever since Turkey's operation in northern Syria started.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed FSA militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push YPG militants away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the SDF.
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