Syria’s Kurds have announced a groundbreaking deal with Damascus on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey, as Ankara presses a deadly cross-border offensive that has sparked an international outcry.
“In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government… so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the Kurdish administration said in a statement.
It came after Syria’s state news agency SANA said the army was sending troops to the north to confront the Turkish aggression.
In an editorial published in Foreign Policy magazine, SDF chief Mazlum Abdi wrote: “If we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”
Kurdish authorities and foreign powers have warned of a major humanitarian crisis, which has already forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the aim of the so-called “Operation Peace Spring” was to establish a “security zone” that would extend 30 to 35 kilometers into Syria and run between Kobane to Hasakeh, a stretch of 440 kilometers.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least 26 civilians were killed on Sunday.
Among them was Kurdish news agency ANHA’s correspondent, Saad Ahmad. He died in a Turkish air strike on a convoy of vehicles transporting civilians and journalists.
At least 60 civilians have now died on the Syrian side of the border, with Turkish reports putting the number of civilians dead from Kurdish shelling inside Turkey at 18.