Mourners carry the coffin of ten-month-old Mohammed Omar Saar, killed during incoming shelling from Syria Thursday, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The Latest: Group shuts down hospital amid Turkish offensive

October 11, 2019 - 10:17 am

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on Turkey's invasion of northeastern Syria in a military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters there (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Doctors Without Borders say it has shut down one of the hospitals it supports in northeastern Syria, which served more than 200,000 people, because of violence caused by the Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held areas.

The aid organization, also known as MSF, said Friday the hospital in the border town of Tal Abyad is the only public one and served patients farther afield. MSF said the violence forced the vast majority of the town's residents to leave, including the medical staff and their family.

MSF said its staff have relocated to provide services in other parts of the region.

MSF said aid groups had to suspend or limit their operations in the crowded al-Hol camp, home to more than 70,000 women and children, as well as Ain Eissa camp.


4:45 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says two more civilians have been killed in a mortar attack on a Turkish border town while another person died of wounds from a similar attack a day earlier.

Anadolu Agency said the latest assault targeted the town of Suruc on Friday, while officials said a child in the town of Ceylanpinar died of his wounds late Thursday. The fatalities increased the death toll of civilians killed in mortar attacks on Turkish border towns to nine.

Turkish officials say the Kurdish militia has fired dozens of mortars into Turkish border towns since the start of Turkey's military offensive in northeast Syria on Oct. 9. The victims include a 9-month-old boy and four children aged 15 or less.


4:35 p.m.

Turkey's interior minister says Friday that 121 people have been detained for social media posts critical of Turkey's military offensive into Kurdish-held northeastern Syria.

Suleyman Soylu said nearly 500 people were investigated for posts characterizing Turkey as an "invading" force and "insulting" the operation —dubbed Peace Spring— which is in its third day.

Turkey is fighting the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers to be an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within the country.

Turkey's police force has previously said the investigations were under the charge of "terror propaganda." Similar measures were taken during Turkey's 2018 cross-border operation in Afrin in northwestern Syria, which was previously controlled by the YPG.

Turkey's anti-terror laws are broad. Pro-Kurdish lawmakers and journalists have been convicted and imprisoned for terror propaganda.


4:15 p.m.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry has rejected warnings that Turkey's cross-border military offensive in northeast Syrian would lead to a humanitarian crisis and mass displacement.

A ministry statement Friday dismissed such claims as allegations "fabricated in order to discredit Turkey's counter-terrorism efforts," adding that only Syrian Kurdish fighters' hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment were being targeted.

The statement also dismissed warnings from Western nations that Turkey's assault on the U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters would put the fight against the Islamic State group at risk.

"Those who even refrain from repatriating their own citizens who are foreign terrorist fighters in the ranks of (IS), do not have the right to lecture Turkey on the fight against (IS)," the statement read.


4:05 p.m.

Syrian Kurdish officials say their security agencies have contained an apparent escape attempt at a sprawling camp in northeastern Syria, home to thousands of family members of Islamic State militants.

Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said Friday that dozens of camp residents attacked the exit gate of al-Hol camp, home to over 70,000 women and children. He said the situation was brought under control but described it as "critical."

Video from a closed-circuit camera show security members chasing women covered in black dress, as they flee away, down the main road that runs in the center of the camp.

The already restive camp is dominated by radical wives of IS members, who have tried to recreate the rules of the militant group. The Kurdish-led authorities have already struggled with securing and providing humanitarian aid to the sprawling camp.

An official who deals with the camp said residents there are taking advantage of the Kurdish-led fighters' focus on fending off a Turkish invasion that began Wednesday, to riot.


3:45 p.m.

Turkey's official news agency says two more Kurdish-held villages have been captured on the third day of the cross-border offensive.

Anadolu news agency said Friday Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters and the Turkish military captured the villages of Tal Hafer and Asfar Nejjar near Ras al-Ayn.

Thirteen villages around Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn in northeastern Syria were captured in the last two days.

Turkey says it intends to go 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep into northern Syria to push back Kurdish forces and set up a so-called "safe zone." It is shelling, conducting airstrikes and using ground forces in the operation.


2:35 p.m.

Pakistan's prime minister has offered rare backing for Turkey's invasion of Syria, a deadly cross-border incursion that started this week and has already displaced tens of thousands.

Friday's government statement says Prime Minister Imran Khan called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express "support and solidarity."

It says Khan told Erdogan that "Pakistan fully understands Turkey's concerns relating to terrorism" and the "threats and challenges being faced by Turkey" as it has lost 40,000 people in acts of terrorism in recent years.

Khan said he is praying that "Turkey's efforts for enhanced security, regional stability and peaceful resolution of the Syrian situation are fully successful."

Erdogan is due to visit Pakistan later this month.


2:10 p.m.

Syrian Kurdish officials say they are evacuating people from a camp for the displaced near the border with Turkey amid Ankara's invasion in northeastern Syria.

The local Kurdish-led administration says Turkish artillery shells have landed in the vicinity of the Mabrouka camp, west of the town of Ras al-Ayn, prompting the evacuation.

It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries on Friday. The camp is 12 kilometers, or 7 miles, from the border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say intense clashes are underway between Syrian Kurdish fighters and Turkey-backed groups on the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn.

U.N. and aid officials had no immediate comment amid an increasingly fluid military situation. Mabrouka is home to 7,000 displaced people, many of whom had fled advances of the Islamic State group in eastern Syria years before.

The local Kurdish administration says it's evacuating the residents to another camp to the south.


1:40 p.m.

European Union Council chief Donald Tusk says Turkey's military operation in northern Syria is of "grave concern" and urged Ankara to stop its military incursion before it triggers another "humanitarian catastrophe."

Tusk spoke to reporters after talks with the Cypriot president on Friday.

He says Turkey's security concerns should be dealt with through diplomatic and political means and that military action only exacerbates civilian suffering, causes further displacement of people and threatens progress that has been achieved so far in battling the Islamic State group.

Tusk said Syrian Kurdish forces have been "crucial" in fighting IS and abandoning them "is not only a bad idea" but raises many "questions both of a strategic and moral nature."

The EU official strongly criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suggesting Thursday he would send 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey to Europe unless the 28-member bloc stops calling Turkey's action an "invasion."

Tusk said Erdogan's remarks were "totally out of place," adding that the EU will never accept "that refugees are weaponized and used to blackmail us."


1:05 p.m.

Several unidentified people have attacked protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv who were rallying against Turkey's invasion in northeastern Syria.

The attackers came out of the embassy.

Footage posted by activists on Friday morning shows several men, some in suits and ties, come out of the embassy and charge the protesters.

The attackers threw some of the protesters on the ground and tore some of the signs they were holding. The men were later seen going back into the embassy compound.

Police in Kyiv had no immediate comment on the incident.


1 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is worried that the Turkish invasion in Syria could pose a threat of a terrorist revival in the region.

The Russian leader spoke during a visit to Turkmenistan on Friday.

Putin says that he doubts that the Turkish army has enough resources to promptly take control of the IS prison camps, saying that he fears that the captured IS fighters "could just run away."

He said in comments on Russian news agencies: "I'm not sure that the Turkish army could take this under their control this fast."

Putin said that Russia is concerned about this threat: "We have to be aware of this and mobilize the resources of our intelligence to undercut this emerging tangible threat."


12:50 p.m.

NATO's secretary-general is urging Ankara to exercise restraint in its incursion into northeast Syria though he acknowledges what he says is Turkey's legitimate security concern about the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Jens Stoltenberg also expressed hos worry that Turkey's offensive launched earlier this week may "jeopardize" gains made against the Islamic State group in the war in Syria.

Stoltenberg spoke a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday in Istanbul, where he arrived as part of a regional visit that also took him to Rome and Athens.

The NATO chief told reporters that "an imminent concern is that captured Daesh terrorists must not be able to escape," referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic name.

Cavusoglu said Turkey expected solidarity from its allies and added that "it is not enough to say you understand Turkey's legitimate concerns, we want to see this solidarity in a clear way."


11:30 a.m.

A French official says sanctions against Turkey will be "on the table" at next week's European Union summit, after the country's incursion into Syria.

Amélie de Montchalin, the French secretary for European affairs, told France Inter radio on Friday that Europe rejected any idea that it was powerless to respond to what she described as a shocking situation against civilians and Europe's Kurdish allies against the Islamic State group.

European diplomats in Brussels have responded cautiously to the idea of sanctions on Ankara.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that he will send millions of refugees into Europe if there is any backlash against his military cross-border operation in Syria.


9:30 a.m.

Turkey's Defense Ministry says a Turkish soldier has been killed during action in Syria — Turkey's first military fatality in Ankara's cross-border offensive, now into its third day.

The ministry said Friday that three soldiers were wounded. It didn't provide details.

Separately, the ministry said 49 more "terrorists" were "neutralized" in the incursion, in reference to Syrian Kurdish fighters. It said the total number of Kurdish fighters killed in the incursion now numbers 277.

Those numbers could not be independently verified.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey and has launched an invasion into northeastern Syria this week.

Ankara says the offensive is necessary for national security.

There have been civilian casualties on both sides: six civilians in Turkey and seven in Syria.

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