Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • A Turkish police armored vehicle patrols the town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The towns along Turkey's border with northeastern Syria have been on high alert after dozens of mortars fired from Kurdish-held Syria landed, killing several civilians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • A motorist passes by in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The towns along Turkey's border with northeastern Syria have been on high alert after dozens of mortars fired from Kurdish-held Syria landed, killing several civilians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, the town of Tel Abyad can be seen inside Syria, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • People walk in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The towns along Turkey's border with northeastern Syria have been on high alert after dozens of mortars fired from Kurdish-held Syria landed, killing several civilians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • Sheep are led in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The towns along Turkey's border with northeastern Syria have been on high alert after dozens of mortars fired from Kurdish-held Syria landed, killing several civilians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Saturday, October 12, 2019 9:00 am

Turkish forces capture center of key Syrian border town

MEHMET GUZEL | Associated Press

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey -- Turkey's military said it captured a key Syrian border town under heavy bombardment Saturday as its offensive against Kurdish fighters pressed into its fourth day with little sign of relenting despite mounting international criticism.

Turkish troops entered central Ras al-Ayn according to Turkey's Defense Ministry and a war monitor group, marking the most significant gain since the invasion began Wednesday.

The ministry tweeted: "Ras al-Ayn's residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates" river.

An Associated Press journalist across the border heard the sound of sporadic clashes as Turkish howitzers struck the town and Turkish jets screeched overhead.

Syrian Kurdish forces appeared to be holding out in some areas of the town. The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces released two videos said to be from inside Ras al-Ayn, showing fighters saying that it is Saturday and they are still there.

The fighting was ongoing as the Kurdish fighters sought to reverse the Turkish advance into Ras Al-Ayn, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The push deeper into northern Syria by Turkish troops came days after U.S. President Donald Trump cleared the way for Turkey's air and ground invasion, pulling back U.S. forces from the area and saying he wanted to stop getting involved with "endless wars."

Trump's decision drew swift bipartisan criticism that he was endangering regional stability and risking the lives of Syrian Kurdish allies who brought down the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the main U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group and had lost 11,000 fighters in the nearly five-year battle against the extremists.

 

Zeynep Bilginsoy of the Associated Press in Istanbul and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.