US President Donald Trump suddenly tightened his tone on Monday against Turkey, calling for an end to his military operation in Syria and announcing a series of sanctions as Syrian troops unfolded in the north of the country.
Targets of a deadly Turkish offensive and abandoned by their American allies, the Kurdish forces turned to the troops of Damascus, who approached Monday the border.
"The United States wants Turkey to end the invasion, implement an immediate ceasefire and start negotiating with Kurdish forces in Syria", said US Vice President Mike Pence, who said he will soon go to Turkey at the request of Donald Trump.
Launched on 9 October, the Turkish operation has opened a new front in the conflict in Syria, involving regional and international actors, which has since 2011 more than 370,000 deaths and pushed to the flight of millions of people.
During a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump showed himself "very firm", said Mike Pence, who assured that the Turkish leader had committed that there is"no attack"against the city of Kobane.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper said the Turkish military offensive had resulted in the release of many detainees.dangerous"Islamic State (IS) jihadist group."This unacceptable incursion has undermined the international anti-IS mission, successful in Syria", he lamented.
After a week of contradictory announcements, a US official said all US troops, some 1,000, deployed in northern Syria in recent years to support the Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group received the order to leave the country.
Sanctions against three ministers
US sanctions signed Monday by Donald Trump target the Turkish ministers of Energy, Defense and Interior. Their potential assets in the United States are frozen and their international transactions in dollars are blocked.
Democrats, who have criticized the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, have also not been convinced of the latest announcements.
"President Trump has unleashed a rise of chaos and insecurity in Syria. Its announcement of a set of sanctions against Turkey is really not enough to reverse this humanitarian disastersaid Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in a statement.
The Turkish military operation aims to establish asecurity zone"32 km deep to separate the Turkish border from the territories controlled by the People's Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia called"terroristby Ankara, but supported by the West.
Under the cover of aviation, Turkish forces and their allies conquered a border strip of about 120 kilometers from the city of Tal Abyad to the west of Ras al-Ain.
On Monday, the regime's forces deployed south of Ras al-Ain, on the outskirts of the city Tal Tamr, where their arrival was greeted by residents, said an AFP correspondent.
Army units are now 6 km from the border, said an NGO, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). Tanks are on the outskirts of Tabqa and Ain Issa.
And for the first time since 2012, the Syrian army has entered the city of Minbej, controlled by a military council affiliated with the Kurds, according to official media and a local official.
In the western outskirts of the city, protesters and Turkish military vehicles have massed by the hundreds, according to an AFP correspondent on site.
160,000 displaced people
Fierce fighting continues in Ras al-Ain between Turkish troops and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military coalition dominated by the YPG, according to the OSDH.
"There is an extensive network of tunnels under Ras al-Ain"used by the Kurdish forces, told AFP Abu Bassam, a Syrian proturc commander, evoking sniper fire that also impede their progress.
The intervention of the regime of Bashar al-Assad is a real reversal of situation illustrating the complexity of the Syrian war.
The regime, which has long oppressed the Kurds, then blasted the de facto autonomy established by this ethnic minority on nearly a third of the territory in the north and north-east of the country during the conflict.
"Between the compromises and the genocide of our people, we will choose life", said Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of the SDS, to justify the agreement with the regime.
Since the beginning of the Turkish offensive, 133 Kurdish fighters and 69 civilians have been killed, as well as 108 rebels protesters, according to the OSDH. And 160,000 people have been displaced, according to the UN.
Turkey has announced the death of four soldiers in Syria and 18 civilians in the fall of Kurdish rockets on its territory.
The Turkish intervention has led to many condemnations especially from European countries that seem powerless to help their Kurdish allies in the war against the IS defeated last March in Syria.
According to the US official, the withdrawal concerns "all"US military deployed in Syria,"except those in Al-Tanf", a base controlled by some 150 US soldiers in the South.
This precipitous departure could push the withdrawal of other Western troops present in northeastern Syria as part of the anti-Jihadist struggle, including French soldiers. Paris said it wants to take measures to guarantee the safety of its soldiers.