Damascus -- Turkey has begun the much-heralded offensive against the Kurds in the north-east of Syria, with a series of air raids yesterday afternoon, followed by ground operations with missile launching and troop movement.
According to a note from the Turkish Ministry of Defense, in this first phase the military hit a total of 181 "terrorist" targets, as Ankara calls the Kurdish Ypg forces (the Popular Protection Units) the main heroes in the fight against the Islamic State (IS , ex Isis). The Kurds immediately responded that the offensive has been "repelled".
The international pressure on the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who decided for all-out war against the Kurds across the border in Syria, was of no use. An offensive that seemed to have at first obtained the green light from US president Donald Trump, who then made a partial u-turn. In the phases preceding the beginning of the attack, Erdogan spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, without changing his mind.
According to Kurdish sources, one of the air raids yesterday afternoon hit a prison for ISIS. Analysts and experts point out that one of the risks linked to the Turkish offensive is that the jihadist militants will regain new vigor, reorganize themselves in the territory and resume the armed struggle after the very heavy defeats - at least at the military level - of the last two years in Syria and Iraq.
In a message on Twitter the spokesman for the Kurdish fighters spoke of "great panic" among the civilian population of the region. And according to the Ypg there are already several civilian victims. Voices also confirmed by the UK-based NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a dense network of whistleblowers in the area, which speaks of at least 15 dead, including eight civilians in Qamishli.
Victims also speak of some Assyrian-Chaldean groups on social media, according to which there would be "at least two deaths" among the Christian population of Qamishli, the object of a heavy bombardment confirmed by amateur videos.
Meanwhile, timid international reactions are multiplying in the face of a Turkish offensive which, in fact, has not met resistance, especially among Western chancelleries. US President Donald Trump called Turkish operations across the border in Syria a "bad idea". The Arab League has called an emergency meeting on 12 October in Cairo, at the request of Egypt, to "discuss the Turkish aggression in Syrian territory".
Words of condemnation also from the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, according to which the Ankara offensive is an "aggression" and an "occupation" of an Arab country.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recalls that any military operation must respect the UN charter and international humanitarian law. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urges Turkey to show behavior and stop the military operation. NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg hopes for "measured" and "proportionate" operations. According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the operation will further destabilize the region and strengthen the Islamic state.
Criticism and attacks rejected by the Ankara government, which reminds Arab and Gulf nations of "the victims and starved people in Yemen" due to the war fueled by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. "You killed and starved so many civilians in Yemen. On the basis of which law - underlines Mevlüt Cavusoglu, head of Turkish diplomacy - today you oppose this operation ".