Turkey counts down to resumption of Syrian operation


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The clock is ticking on the northern Syria ceasefire with Turkey's state TV running a countdown clock and civilians fleeing border towns in anticipation of an attack tonight.

In the top right corner of the screen, TRT has a clock counting down to the end of the 'pause deadline' in Turkey's Operation Peace Spring. The US-brokered truce is due to expire at 10pm local time on Tuesday.

The agreement was not labeled a ceasefire at Turkey's insistence, but detailed steps towards a full cessation of hostilities. Under the terms, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would withdraw from a stretch on the border, pulling south of the M4 highway. They would also relinquish their heavy weapons and destroy fortifications within the truce zone. Turkey in turn would commit to a full ceasefire.

Both sides have accused the other of violating the agreement. The spokesperson for the SDF, Kino Gabriel, told Rudaw that they are ready to abide by the terms and the survival of the ceasefire depends entirely on Turkey. At the moment, the SDF is waiting to see what Turkey will do. "There is no information as to what is going to happen later or tomorrow night," Gabriel said on Monday evening.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Tuesday for what is anticipated to be a decisive meeting.

Turkey’s TRT World runs a countdown clock in the top right of its screen, counting down to the end of the pause in Operation Peace Spring, in this screenshot taken Tuesday morning. Photo: TRT World screenshot

The day before, Erdogan struck a combative tone, saying he will not make a deal with terrorists.

A group of Russian military advisors reportedly arrived in the northern Syria city of Qamishli on Monday, ahead of an expected deployment of Syrian regime troops along the border with Turkey. Russia mediated a deal between the SDF and Damascus for government troops to enter key towns and bolster security along the border to protect against Turkish aggression.

Turkey's ground incursion, launched on October 9 two days after starting an air campaign, has been focused around the mixed Kurdish-Arab border towns of Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) and Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain).

With the end of the pause in operations nearing, the population of Darbasiyah, a village on the border east of Sari Kani, has fled their homes. Turkey removed a segment of their border wall in the area and residents are afraid they will be the Turkish army's next target. Darbasiyah is now a ghost town, according to the Rojava Information Centre.

"Because the ceasefire is ending tomorrow the population is leaving [Darbasiyah], the city is now empty of population, they all left to Hasaka or Iraqi Kurdistan," a resident told the information centre on Monday.
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."
-John Trudell