Dutch FM urges Turkey to stop military offensive in northern Syria

Dutch FM urges Turkey to stop military offensive in northern Syria

The Turkish army has confirmed "launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river" adding it had hit 181 "militant targets".

The U.S. -backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.

"We have been tasked by the president to try to see if there are areas of commonality between the two sides (and if) there's a way that we can find our way to a ceasefire", a USA official said on condition of anonymity.

Turkish forces began a military operation in northeast Syria on Wednesday, shortly after US troops began vacating the region.

The head of a Turkish opposition news site was arrested Thursday, his employer said, as part of a crackdown on critics of the military operation launched in Syria a day earlier.

On the threat of mass displacement and massacre in the region, he said: "Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place - and we will hold them to this commitment".

Akcakale was quiet for much of the morning after sporadic gunfire and the sound of tank movement were heard in the early hours, Reuters journalists said. "We gave them a very clear red light, I've been involved in those red lights and I know the President did that on Sunday", the official said.

The Turkish defence ministry insisted the operation was going as planned.

"That's just false", he said, in an interview with PBS channel, but did not elaborate other than to say that Turkey has a "legitimate security concern".

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The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria, said at least 29 fighters and 10 civilians have been killed since the start of the assault. Thousands of people fled Ras al Ain towards Hasaka province, held by the SDF.

AFP correspondents on the Turkish side of the border said they saw fighters crossing into Syria in dozens of vehicles.

Trump on Wednesday called Turkey's incursion into Syria a "bad idea".

"Turkey has an obligation under worldwide humanitarian law to take all possible measures to protect civilians and to ensure they have access to humanitarian aid".

After the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the fighting, the USA ambassador to the United Nations said Turkey faced unspecified "consequences" if it did not meet its pledge to protect vulnerable populations or contain Islamic State fighters.

The Arab League meets Saturday for an extraordinary meeting at the request of Egypt, in connection with the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Trump defended United States policy towards Kurds, saying Washington had spent "tremendous amounts of money" arming and funding them.

He told reporters the Kurds "didn't help us in the second world war, they didn't help us with Normandy as an example - they mention the names of different battles, they weren't there".

"Our embassy in Damascus is in constant contact with community leaders, and they do not want to be evacuated at this time", Melkonyan said.

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