Syrian army soldiers and Russian troops entered the Kurdish-held border town of Kobane in northern Syria yesterday, a monitoring group said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a huge convoy of the Syrian army was seen leaving Manbij, another Kurdish city which was taken over by Syrian troops earlier this week, and moving towards Kobane.
The move by the Syrian army came a few hours after the observatory and Kurdish sources said US troops based in Kobane have left the town and destroyed their base.
At the weekend, Syrian Kurdish militias announced a Russian-brokered deal allowing government forces to deploy in Kurd-ruled areas near the border with Turkey.
Turkey launched its long-threatened incursion into northern Syria on October 9, targeting Syrian Kurdish militias that Ankara says are linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is waging an insurgency within the country.
An Iraqi security source said yesterday that some 200 Syrian Kurdish families who escaped northeast Syria arrived in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Last week, US President Donald Trump announced a pull-back from Kurdish areas near the Turkish border.
The watchdog also reported fighting near the M4 highway, which runs through northern Syria and is regarded as a major supply route for the Kurds.
The fighting, which erupted late Tuesday, has killed so far two Syrian soldiers, 12 Turkish-backed rebels and 14 SDF members, according to the observatory.
The watchdog also said that some 71 civilians have been killed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists he is ensuring his country’s border security and also wants to resettle 1 to 2mn Syrian refugees in a buffer zone in northern Syria.
France’s foreign minister said he wanted to reach an agreement with Iraq to put Islamic State militants currently held by the SDF on trial in that country.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said he would be visiting Iraq shortly and hoped to work with authorities there on “a judicial mechanism that could try all these fighters, including in principle the French ones.”
The SDF was currently holding some 10,000 Islamic State fighters after its defeat of the extremist militia organisation in Syria, Le Drian added.
They were “all capable of bringing Daesh (Islamic State) back to life and potentially threatening our security,” he warned.
Syrian Kurdish authorities said on Sunday that 785 foreigners linked to Islamic State had escaped from a camp in Ain Issa.
However, Le Drian said most of the camps and prisons holding Islamic State prisoners were not currently under threat as they were in eastern Syria.
France and other European countries have refused to repatriate Islamic State fighters and their wives and widows held by the SDF, which previously called for an international tribunal to try them.
Eleven French nationals were sentenced to death in Iraq earlier this year, reportedly after being handed over to Iraqi authorities by the SDF.
In Damascus, UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.
“We obviously concentrated on the situation in the north-east,”
Pederson was quoted as saying. “I repeated the secretary general’s strong appeal that we should end the fighting immediately, that there needs to be a cessation of hostilities and that we are extremely alarmed by the humanitarian consequences of the crisis,” he added.
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