BEIRUT,— Kurdish forces in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northeastern Syria denied on Saturday claims by the Turkish defence ministry that its forces had taken the battleground border town of Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ain), the first in its four-day-old offensive.
“Ras al-Ain is still resisting and clashes are ongoing,” said an official of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The official said Kurdish fighters had temporarily pulled back from the town before launching a counter-offensive against Ankara’s forces.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian Islamic militants had entered the town but had yet to capture it, AFP reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights too reported that Ras al-Ain, a major target of the Turkish offensive, had yet to be overrun.
A Syrian militants commander fighting alongside Turkish forces said they seized a neighbourhood in Ras al-Ain and sealed the main routes leading to the area but Kurdish SDF defences were impeding further advances.
“There is fierce resistance … we are not able to advance because of the large number of snipers,” the rebel commander told AFP.
Ras al-Ain would be the first town to fall to Ankara’s forces since the launch of its cross-border offensive on Wednesday.
Both it and Girê Spî (Tel Abyad) further west have been major goals of the invasion as Turkey seeks to impose its control over the area between them which although Kurdish-controlled, is mainly ethnic Arab.
Turksih defence ministry said Saturday that Turkey forces have taken control of the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, which has been a focus of its operation against Kurdish militants.
“As a result of successful operations within the scope of Operation Peace Spring, the town of Ras al-Ain to the east of the Euphrates has been brought under control,” it wrote on Twitter.
Turkish bombardment kills 10 Syria civilians: monitor
Bombardment by Ankara’s forces killed 10 civilians in Syrian Kurdistan on Saturday taking to 28 the civilian death toll from the Turkish offensive now its fourth day, a monitor said.
At least seven were killed in air strikes and shelling around the battleground border towns of Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The other three were killed by artillery fire on the mainly Kurdish city of Qamishlo further east, the Britain-based war monitor said.
Turkey’s deadly assault against Kurdish positions in Syrian Kurdistan has forced around 100,000 people to flee their homes, the United Nations said Friday.
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