Syria op enters sixth day as Turkish forces take control of strategic M4 highway
Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria continued for a sixth day Oct. 14 as Turkish forces took control of the strategic M4 highway, which connects the Syrian districts of Manbij and Qamishli.
Reaching M4 – about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the Turkish border - was a significant development in “Operation Peace Spring,” as the highway connects northeastern Syria to the rest of the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the operation would extend from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east and go some 30 kilometers (20 miles) into Syrian territory, with the town of Ras al-Ain now in Turkish control.
Turkey has taken central Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain since the start of the operation.
“Ras al-Ain’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of the Euphrates,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry has said.
The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces have been advancing into villages around Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, under the cover of Turkish artillery and some airstrikes.
Besides the key border towns, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), accompanied by the Syrian National Army (SNA) have liberated over 50 villages.
In the meantime, the United States said on Oct. 13 that it will withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northern Syria
Turkey on Oct. 9 kicked off “Operation Peace Spring” in a bid to provide border security and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees in the country.
Ankara has said the PKK terrorist group and its extension, the YPG/PYD, constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.
Turkey has been facing criticism from its European allies regarding the operation with warnings of possible sanctions.
The Turkish government, on the other hand, has been stressing that the country is carrying out its operation with respect to international law and the “self-defense” article of the U.N. Charter.
On the first day of the operation, the Turkish military advanced some seven kilometers into Tal Abyad.
YPG/PKK terrorists accelerated attacks on civilians in Şanlıurfa and Nusaybin district of Mardin, killing eight at the beginning of the operation and injuring 71, including Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency’s correspondents.
On the second day of the air and land operations, the SNA, which supported the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch Operations under the name of Free Syrian Army, entered Tal Abyad at noon and Ras al-Ayn in the evening.
The villages of al-Yabisah and Tal Fandar were the first cleared of terrorists as part of the operation; later, the villages of Musheirifa, Dadat, Bir Ashiq and Hamidiyah in Tal Abyad and Kishto in Ras al-Ayn were also cleared of terrorists.
The villages of Lower Kishto west of Ras al-Ayn, Barzan, Al Jadedah and Gisas were also rid of terrorists.
Meanwhile, the SNA disconnected a YPG/PKK supply line through Dirbasiye district in Al-Hasakah.
Asfar Najjar and Tal Halaf villages of Ras al-Ayn district in northern Syria were cleared of terrorists on the third day.
SNA forces are taking security precautions in rescued villages.
A Turkish soldier was killed, and three soldiers were wounded in a clash with YPG/PKK terrorists.
Four SNA soldiers were killed in an ambush on terrorists in Tal Abyad district and three others were injured.
Turkish warplanes entered east of Euphrates to a depth of 19 miles (30 kilometers) and hit YPG/PKK targets and around the town of Ayn Issa, affiliated with the YPG/PKK-occupied Raqqa.