MESOPOTAMIA NEWS FOCUS : Turkish defense minister makes rare visit to Syrian border amid Ain Issa clashes

  Karwan Faidhi Dri  RUDAW  30 Dec 2020

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar paid a rare visit to Sanliurfa province on the Syrian border on Wednesday to inspect troops amid intensified clashes with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in neighbouring Syria’s Ain Issa town.

Akar led a top military delegation to visit forces in  the country’s southeastern Sanliurfa province, according to a ministry statement. They were briefed about the developments in Turkey’s military activities “on the ground” – a reference to recent clashes with the SDF.

“In 2020, we continued our work based on the security of our country, our borders and our noble nation. We have achieved successful results. I hope we will continue to achieve successful results next year as well,” he was quoted as saying.

The visit comes as Turkey and its Syrian proxies intensify attacks against the SDF in Ain Issa, just across the border. Several fighters from both sides have died.

Turkey and its Syrian militants bombarded the edges of the strategic M4 highway and the Ain Issa IDP camp west of the town on Wednesday, according to the SDF-affiliated North Press Agency (NPA).

Hawar News Agency (ANHA), another news agency affiliated to the SDF, said late Wednesday that Al-Mushairfah village in Ain Issa was also bombarded by the Turkish army and its proxies.

Ain Issa is located to the east of Euphrates River, at a junction that connects many cities in northeast Syria, and has been a focal point of recent clashes.

Approximately 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Ain Issa and the surrounding area since October, the Rojava Information Center said on Monday.

Turkey and its proxies control stretches of northern Syria, including parts of Aleppo and Idlib provinces, and a so-called “safe zone” between Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain) and Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) in northeast Syria – taken by Ankara’s proxies after Operation Peace Spring, which displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians last October.