Thousands Flee, Dozens Killed as Turkey Attacks Kurdish Militia in Syria

October 11, 2019 Updated: October 11, 2019

Turkey pounded Kurdish militia in northeast Syria for a second day on Thursday, Oct. 10. Tens of thousands of people fled, and dozens of people were killed.

The Turkish offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—the main component of which is the Kurdish YPG militia—began days after President Donald Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the way.

“We defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate and no longer have any troops in the area under attack by Turkey, in Syria. We did our job perfectly! Now Turkey is attacking the Kurds, who have been fighting each other for 200 years,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Thursday. “We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!”

“I hope we can mediate,” Trump said when asked about the options by reporters at the White House.

Trump said the United States was “going to possibly do something very, very tough with respect to sanctions and other financial things” against Turkey.

The SDF aided the United States in defeating ISIS terrorists in Syria. But the Turkish government views them as a terrorist insurgency linked to the Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said 228 militants had been killed so far in the offensive. At least 23 fighters with the SDF and six fighters from a Turkish-backed Syrian rebel group had been killed, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war.

The SDF said Turkish air strikes and shelling had also killed nine civilians.

Smoke rises over Tel Abyad, Turkey
Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, as seen from the Turkish border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, on Oct. 10, 2019. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Reuters contributed to this report.