CEYLANPINAR, TURKEY: Turkey remained defiant against mounting international pressure to curb its military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria, raising tensions with Washington as vice president Mike Pence headed for Ankara on Wednesday to demand a ceasefire. Battles raged in the key Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain as dawn broke on Wednesday, with Kurdish fighters trying to hold off the onslaught by Turkish-backed forces, now in its second week. The fighting has triggered a flurry of diplomacy among major powers, with US President Donald Trump dispatching Pence along with his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo to Turkey amid the greatest crisis in relations for decades between the Nato allies. The Kremlin said it would host President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days, to ensure the operation does not turn into an all-out war between Turkey and Syria. Russia has stepped into the void caused by Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, deploying patrols to prevent clashes between Syrian and Turkish forces. Trump — facing mounting criticism in Washington over his decision to pull 1,000 troops out of the conflict zone, as well as an unrelated impeachment inquiry –… Read full this story
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