The Latest: Lebanon FM wants Syria back in Arab League

0

AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) – The Latest on Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria in a military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters there (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

Lebanon’s top diplomat is calling on the Arab League to restore Syria’s membership amid Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria.

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says that readmitting Syria into the pan-Arab organization should be “the first response from the League to the Turkish aggression.” He spoke to the league on Saturday in Cairo.

He says: “We can no longer allow any Israeli or Turkish aggression or (aggression) from any party against an Arab state or an Arab people.”

Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League was suspended in 2011 after the Syrian government’s military crackdown on protesters calling for reforms.

Bassil spoke Saturday at an Arab League meeting called by Egypt on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

___

3:10 p.m.

The head of the Arab League is calling for Turkey to halt its military offensive in Syria and pull out its forces from the war-torn country.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Saturday that Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria has resulted in a new wave of displacement and jeopardizes “achievements” made in fighting the Islamic State group.

Turkey says it aims to push back Syrian Kurdish forces, which it considers a threat for their links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.

Aboul Gheit spoke at an emergency Arab League summit called by Egypt on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, after meeting with a Syrian Kurdish representative earlier in the day, said he supported Kurdish “legitimate resistance” against the Turkish operation.

___

1:50 p.m.

A Kurdish police force in northern Syria says a car bomb has exploded outside a prison where members of the Islamic State group are being held, but there was no word on casualties.

The police force known as Asayesh said the blast occurred early Saturday outside the central prison in the northeastern city of Hassakeh, much of which is controlled by Kurdish forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said after the blast, Kurdish fighters brought reinforcements to prevent prisoners from escaping.

No one claimed responsibility but IS sleeper cells have carried out such bombings.

Kurdish fighters are holding about 10,000 IS fighters including some 2,000 foreigners.

There have been concerns that as Kurdish fighters try to repel Turkey’s invasion, some IS detainees might try to flee.

___

12:45 p.m.

Turkey says its military offensive has taken central Ras al-Ayn, a key border town in northeastern Syria, and its most significant gain since its cross-border operation began against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Turkish Defense Ministry tweeted: “Ras al-Ayn’s residential center has been taken under control through the successful operations in the east of the Euphrates (River).”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, confirmed that Turkish troops have entered the town adding that fighting is still ongoing.

The Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces have been advancing in villages around Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, under the cover of Turkish artillery and some airstrikes.

Turkey is fighting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers a threat for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.

The YPG forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed ground forces fighting the Islamic State group.

___

12:20 p.m.

Arab foreign ministers are meeting to discuss Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, as the Arab League holds an emergency session at its headquarters in Cairo.

Saturday’s meetings in Egypt’s capital came as the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters enters its fourth day.

Egypt called the emergency meeting to discuss what it called Turkey’s “blatant aggression” against Syria’s sovereignty.

Turkey says it aims to push back Syrian Kurdish forces, which it considers terrorists for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.

But the military action and violence in northern Syria has raised concerns about a possible resurgence of Islamic State activity.

Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League was suspended in 2011 after the Syrian government’s military crackdown on protesters calling for reforms.

___

10:20 a.m.

France’s president has discussed the Turkish offensive in Syria with U.S. President Donald Trump, and warned about a possible resurgence of Islamic State activity as a result of the military action.

President Macron’s office said in a statement Saturday that in the call, the French leader “reiterated the need to make the Turkish offensive stop immediately.”

The statement didn’t say whether Macron urged U.S. forces to intervene. Trump’s decision to pull out of the region cleared the way for this week’s Turkish offensive against Kurds in northeast Syria it sees as a threat.

Macron stressed “above all else the need to avoid any resurgence of IS in the region,” and to support the Kurdish forces who helped the U.S.-led military coalition retake Syrian and Iraqi territory from IS extremists.

France has suffered multiple deadly attacks by IS-linked radicals.

The statement said France and the U.S. “share common concerns” and will coordinate closely on the issue in the coming days

___

10:10 a.m.

Turkey’s official news agency says Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces have reached a strategic highway in northeastern Syria as Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters enters its fourth day.

Anadolu news agency said Saturday the forces have arrived at the M-4 highway that connects the Syrian towns of Manbij and Qamishli. The road is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the Turkish border.

Turkey has said it aims to push back Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers terrorists for its links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.

Erdogan said Friday Turkey won’t stop until the YPG, who forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed ground force against the Islamic State, withdraws below a 32 kilometer (20 miles) deep line.

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)
Advertisements