An ambulance en route to rescue wounded in a Turkish air strike was damaged in a bomb attack, according to the latest of the Kurdish groups who call a series of attacks against medical personnel in the north-east of Syria.

The ambulance, which carried red marks indicating that it was a medical vehicle, was heading to villages north of the Tal Tamr town on Saturday afternoon when the ambulance, which carried red markings indicating that it was a medical vehicle, was heading to villages north of Tal Tamr town on Saturday afternoon. she was hit by a burst of a weapon that exploded nearby. The two ambulance attendants inside were injured in the blast.

"The ambulance was targeted with heavy weapons," said Cadus, an independent German aid group and co-operator of the vehicle. "At the time of the attack, our ambulance was not working on the front."

Who controls in northeastern Syria?

Until Turkey launched its offensive on 9 October, the region was controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which included groups of militias representing various ethnic groups, but whose backbone was Kurdish. .

Since the Turkish incursion, the SDF has lost much of its territory and seems to be losing control of key cities. On October 13, Kurdish leaders agreed to allow Syrian regime forces to enter some cities to protect them from capture by Turkey and its allies. The agreement effectively gives control of vast expanses of the region to Damascus.

This leaves northeastern Syria divided between Syrian regime forces, Syrian opposition militias and their Turkish allies, and areas still under FDS control, for the time being.

On October 17, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed with US Vice President Mike Pence to suspend the Ankara operation for five days to allow Kurdish troops to withdraw. The following week, October 22, Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed on the parameters of the Turkish "security zone" project in Syria.

How did the SDF manage to control the region?

Before the creation of the SDF in 2015, the Kurds had created their own militias that mobilized during the Syrian civil war to defend Kurdish towns and villages and create what they hoped to become at least a semi-autonomous province.

By the end of 2014, the Kurds were struggling to oppose the headquarters of the Islamic State in Kobane, a large city under their control. With the support of the United States, including weapons and air strikes, the Kurds managed to repel Isis and win a series of victories against the radical militant group. Along the way, the fighters have absorbed non-Kurdish groups, changed their name and became the FDS and now have 60,000 soldiers.

Why does Turkey oppose the Kurds?

For years, Turkey has watched with concern the growing links between the United States and the SDF. A significant number of SDF Kurds were also members of the People's Protection Units (YPG), a branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which led an uprising against the Turkish state for over 35 years during of which 40,000 people died. The PKK initially called for independence and now calls for greater autonomy for Kurds in Turkey.

Turkey claims that the PKK continued to wage war on the Turkish state, even though it contributed to the fight against Isis. Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, NATO and other countries have classified the PKK as a terrorist group, which has proved delicate for the United States and their countries. allies, who have chosen to downplay the importance of the SDF's ties with the PKK, preferring to focus on their common interests. goal of defeating Isis.

What are Turkey's goals on its southern border?

Turkey wants first to push the SDSs out of its border, creating a 32 km buffer zone that would have been jointly patrolled by Turkish and US troops until Trump's recent announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from the border. region.

Erdoğan also said that he would seek to relocate more than one million Syrian refugees in this "safe zone", expelling them from his country (where their presence began to create a brutal reaction) and by complicating the demographic mix in what he's afraid to become. an autonomous Kurdish state on its border.

What would be the impact of a Turkish incursion on Isis?

Nearly 11,000 Isis fighters, including nearly 2,000 foreigners, as well as tens of thousands of wives and children, are currently detained in hastily fortified detention camps and jails in the north East of Syria.

The SDF leaders warned that they could not guarantee the safety of these prisoners if they were forced to redeploy their forces on the front lines of a war against Turkey. They are also worried that the Isis will use the chaos of war to launch attacks aimed at freeing their fighters or recovering territory.

On October 11, it was reported that at least five Isis fighters detained had escaped from a prison in the region. Two days later, 750 foreign women affiliated with Isis and their children managed to get out of a secure compound in the Ain Issa IDP camp, according to SDF officials.

It is difficult to know which places of detention are still under the control of the SDFs and what is the status of the prisoners in the interior.

Michael Safi

Aram Hamidi, a Kurdish paramedic in the vehicle, said he had been hit by Turkish fire. "Our ambulance was hit and destroyed," he said in a video interview published by the Rojava Information Center, a media collective working in the area.

"Me and my colleague who was driving were injured … I was injured by a burst of shrapnel. I still have a piece in my jaw and all my teeth are broken. "

Photographs of the ambulance – also operated by the Kurdish Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization not affiliated with the International Committee of the Red Cross – showed cracked windows and blood stains on the seats.

A series of agreements between Ankara, Moscow and Washington ended Turkey's invasion of northeastern Syria earlier this month, but fighting continues on the borders of Turkey-controlled territory.

Kurdish groups claim that medical personnel have been targeted throughout the Turkish operation in the region and that it continues to be vulnerable. The Rojava Information Center estimates that five medical staff members have been killed since the beginning of the invasion last month. Three were kidnapped and executed and two died in drone strikes. At least seven others were injured, he added.

Sebastian Jünemann, CEO of Cadus, said it was not clear whether the ambulance had been hit by a drone or by artillery fire, and that it was was unclear whether she had been deliberately targeted. He added that Cadus had coordinated his movements with the UN Civil-Military Coordination Center.

"We were targeted by Isis in Mosul, but never by a state actor like Turkey, for example," said Jünemann. "In Mosul, we took some security measures … but in this situation, the actor is a member of NATO and we are assured that we are safe. Normally, we should be safe.

Kurdish groups accuse Turkish forces and their militia allies of attacking Kurdish Red Crescent medical facilities, including repeated attacks on a hospital in Ras al-Ayn city and an artillery shell. who landed near a medical convoy a week ago, killing a member of the Free Burma Rangers, an independent humanitarian group.

The Turkish government has always denied deliberately targeting vehicles or facilities for medical purposes. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for a comment.

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