Mediating deal between Turkey and the Kurds one of the choices: Trump

File photo: US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Washington Oct 11, 2019, 07.49 AM (IST)

As Turkish troops began their offensive in northeast Syria, US President Trump said he hopes he can mediate between Turkey and Kurds.

"We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win militarily, hit Turkey very hard financially and with sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds! the US president said.

On Tuesday, thousands of civilians fled their homes as Turkish troops pounded Kurdish military positions in northeast Syria. According to reports, at least twenty-three fighters with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and six fighters with a Turkish-backed Syrian rebel group were killed in the initial assault launched by Turkish troops.

Trump, however, declared that ISS was defeated "100%" and the US no longer "has any troops in the area under attack by Turkey, in Syria." "We did our job perfectly," the US president added.

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"Now Turkey is attacking the Kurds, who have been fighting each other for 200 years," he said.

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The civilian exodus from the area around the military operation has been immense. The International Rescue Committee said 64,000 people in Syria have fled since the campaign began on Wednesday with Ras al-Ain and Darbasiya towns which fall directly in the assault zone practically deserted.

The rescue committee said Turkish forces had already seized two villages near Ras al-Ain and five near the town of Tel Abyad. Meanwhile, Turkey has said it intends to create a "safe zone" for the return of millions of refugees to Syria even as fighting continues in the region.

Turkey President Erdogan defiantly declared on Thursday that he would permit Syrian refugees in Turkey to move to Europe if EU countries described his forces' move as an occupation. Turkey is reportedly holding at least 3.6 million people who have fled the conflict in Syria. 

Although Turkey brands the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists because of their ties to militants who have waged an insurgency in Turkey, the US Congress feels Kurds have been instrumental in defeating the Islamic State terrorists.