Turkey’s Defense Ministry and a war-monitoring group said Turkish troops took Ras al-Ayn, marking a significant gain since the offensive began Wednesday, according to reports.
“Ras al-Ayn’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of Euphrates (River),” the ministry said on Twitter, according to the Associated Press.
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)
Turkey’s push into Syria comes days after President Trump cleared the way for Turkey’s air and ground offensive, 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.
On Saturday, Turkey denied targeting U.S. forces after the Pentagon said troops further west had come under fire, the BBC reported.
The Pentagon said Friday U.S. troops came under Turkish artillery fire near the Syrian border town of Kobani.
Turkey said it took all precautions to prevent any harm to the U.S. base while it was responding to Kurdish fire from a nearby area, Reuters reported.
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)
“U.S. and coalition soldiers were definitely not hit. Indeed the necessary coordination is being carried out by our headquarters and the Americans,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying on Saturday, according to Reuters.
The war-monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 74 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Wednesday as well as 49 Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters and 21 civilians.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.