CIVILIANS FLEE AS TURKISH ATTACKS SPARK ISIS FEARS
Kurds killed, civilians flee as Syria bombed and invaded in wake of US withdrawal
EXODUS: Civilians flee with their belongings amid a Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain along the border. Turkey has launched a broad assault on Kurdishcontrolled areas in northeastern Syria, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison is concerned could pave the way for the resurgence of ISIS.
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Scott Morrison is extremely fearful Turkey’s deadly ground and air assault into northern Syria will lead to the resurgence of Islamic State.
Turkish troops hit more than 181 militant targets yesterday after launching a deadly ground and air blitz against Kurdish forces.
At least eight civilians and seven Kurdish fighters were killed as hundreds of people fled the area.
Mr Morrison was in contact with both the Turkish and US governments yesterday morning to express his very “deep concern” about the actions.
Asked whether military strikes against the Kurds could lead to Islamic State reclaiming territory it was driven from seven months ago, he said that was his main fear.
“And that is a concern that has been expressed by Australia and by many others,” he said.
“That is what we have expressed directly to our partners, our allies and certainly to the Turkish Government.”
“We’re concerned about what this could mean for the potential for the resurgence of Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Mr Morrison was also worried about the safety of people in the area and what the invasion could mean for the Kurdish people.
But US President Donald Trump has hit back at claims he had abandoned a longtime US ally, saying the Kurds “didn’t help” in World War II and that they were only willing to help with “their land”.
“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” said Mr Trump, who played down concerns over a new ISIS threat.
Officials revealed two British ISIS fighters from a cell dubbed “The Beatles” had been taken into US custody and moved out of Syria.
London-born Alexanda Kotey, 35, and British national El Shafee Elsheikh, 31, are set to be extradited to the US and face the death penalty.
Mr Trump dubbed “The Beatles” terror cell, which was linked to a series of hostage beheadings, as the “worst of the worst”.
“In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the two ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria,” Trump tweeted.
Kurdish commanders have warned of a “humanitarian disaster” if ground troops attack its positions and the blood of thousands of innocent civilians will be spilt.
The withdrawal of US troops again drew criticism from US Democrats and a rebuke from some of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The Kentucky Republican says it would also make it easier for ISIS to rebuild.
Kurdish forces control prisons where at least 12,000 Islamic State fighters are held.
There are fears the incursion could put Australian women and children stranded in the Al-Hawl refugee camp at risk. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the Government would not rush to extract the Australians. It comes in the wake of the Government stripping three dual nationals in Syria of their Australian citizenship.
They reportedly include Zehra Duman, who fled Australia as a teenager to marry an IS militant.
“The advice in relation to some of these women is, far from being dragged there by their husband or boyfriend, they’ve gone willingly and/or they’re as hardcore as some of the male terrorists that they’ve seen in Syria and Iraq,” Dutton said. In 2014, Australia joined the US-led coalition and offered military and financial support to fight IS.
The UN Security Council was due to meet to discuss the crisis that opens a new front in the bloody civil war that has engulfed Syria.
An emergency meeting of Arab League countries will take place tomorrow, as Turkey’s lone-wolf action lights a fire under already bubbling tensions in the region.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had serious concerns about Turkey’s military action.
“This risks destabilising the region, exacerbating humanitarian suffering and undermining the progress made against Daesh which should be our collective focus,” he said yesterday.
DANGER ZONE: Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain along the Turkish border; above left, people wave Turkish flags as Turkish soldiers prepare to enter into Syria, and; below left, civilians flee during Turkish bombardment.