Turkish forces have seized large parts of the northern Syrian town of Suluk on the fifth day of an invasion which also saw families of Daesh members escape a camp held by Kurdish forces.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Sunday Turkish troops and their militant allies had entered Suluk, some 10 km from Turkey’s border.
Suluk is southeast of the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad. The seizure came a day after Turkey’s defense ministry said its forces had taken control of the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain.
Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad have been the primary focus of Turkey’s incursion launched on Wednesday. They have come under heavy bombardment, prompting tens of thousands of civilians to flee.
The UN said Sunday Turkey’s deadly invasion of northeastern Syria has forced 130,000 people to flee their homes.
“We have moved into a planning scenario where up to 400,000 people could be displaced within and across the affected areas,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told AFP news agency.
It said concerns remain grave around the risks facing thousands of vulnerable displaced persons, including women and children in various displacement camps.
Kurdish authorities said the Turkish offensive is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands of people from families of Daesh. “Some were able to escape,” they said.
On Saturday, Kurdish officials said the Turkish invasion has revived Daesh and called on the US and its allies to close off the airspace to Turkish warplanes.
“The Turkish invasion is no longer threatening the revival of Daesh, rather it has revived it and activated its cells in Qamishli and Hasaka and all the other areas,” Redur Xelil, a senior official of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said.
The SDF urged US allies to assume their “moral obligations” to protect the Kurdish militants from the cross-border Turkish offensive.
“Our allies had guaranteed us protection … but suddenly and without warning they abandoned us in an unjust decisions to withdraw their troops from the Turkish border,” it said in a statement.
Turkey launched its military campaign, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, in northeast Syria on Wednesday, just days after the US out pulled its forces and abandoned its Kurdish allies there.
Ankara says the operation is meant to purge the Syrian region of YPG militants, which Turkey views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that a total of 480 YPG militants had been “neutralized” since the operation began.