Car bomb kills 3 in Syria's Qamishli; EU threatens sanctions against Turkey • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Car bomb kills 3 in Syria’s Qamishli; EU threatens sanctions against Turkey

A car bomb in the Syrian city of Qamishli on Friday killed at least three civilians and wounded nine more, the internal security forces of the Kurdish-led administration said.

Rescue workers were still searching for dead and wounded in the wreckage, the security forces said in a statement.

The statement added that Islamic State militants had increased their activity since the beginning of a Turkish offensive into northern Syria this week, without directly blaming the jihadist group for the car bomb.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some seven civilians had been killed in Turkish air strikes and sniper fire in northeastern Syria on Friday.

“Four of them were killed when an air strike hit their car while fleeing” in Tal Abyad, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

The other three were killed by snipers around the border town, which has been one of the main targets of the assault Turkey and its proxies launched on Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria on Wednesday.

According to the UK-based monitor, a total of 17 civilians have been killed since the start of the assault, which has also left 41 fighters from the Kurdish forces dead.

Turkey announced on Friday that one soldier had been killed in the fighting.

Seven civilians including a nine-month-old baby were also killed in Turkish border towns in Sanliurfa and Mardin provinces. Nearly 70 other people were injured.

Unrest and jailbreak
Qamishlo said also said five Islamic State militants broke out of a prison in northeast Syria on Friday after Turkish shelling nearby, a Syrian Kurdish official said.
The detainees escaped from a prison in Qamishli city, Marvan Qamishlo, a media official with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said.
There were also reports of unrest from a camp holding tens of thousands of people, nearly all of them women and children who were transferred from Islamic State territory captured by the US-backed SDF earlier this year.
Qamishlo said women affiliated with Islamic State attacked security offices with sticks and stones on Friday during unrest at al-Hol camp started in the foreigners’ section and involved more people than during previous trouble at the camp.
A video of the disturbance, distributed by the SDF and shot from a distance, showed around 20 fully covered women running in open space with several men appearing to pursue them.
The camp is holding tens of thousands of people, nearly all of them women and children who were transferred from Islamic State territory captured by the U.S.-backed SDF earlier this year.
On Thursday, a Kurdish official warned that Islamic State detainees could break out of detention as Kurdish-led security forces confront a new Turkish offensive in northern Syria and their ability to guard detainees is weakened.
“The Daesh (Islamic State) women rose against the internal security forces at al-Hol, they set ablaze tents and attacked the administrative and security offices there with stones and sticks,” Qamishlo said.
Qamishlo said there had been similar, although smaller, outbreaks of unrest before. “But this time it seems it was coordinated, based on the numbers,” he said.
He did not know exactly how many people were involved but said it was at least in the hundreds. The situation was under control but tense.
Aid agencies have reported tension and insecurity in the camp, which is housing about 68,000 people.
Last month, Médecins Sans Frontières said its teams had treated four women for gunshot wounds after protests by women and children were met with force by the camp security.
Human Rights Watch said in July more than 11,000 foreign women and children were being held in appalling and sometimes deadly conditions at the camp. At least 7,000 of the children were under 12.
Sanctions, arms embargo

EU governments threatened sanctions against Turkey on Friday over its offensive in Syria, angrily rejecting President Tayyip Erdogan’s warning that he would “open the gates” and send 3.6 million refugees to Europe if they did not back him.

Turkey has stepped up its air and artillery strikes on Kurdish militia in northeast Syria, escalating an offensive that has drawn warnings of a humanitarian disaster and also raised the prospect of new US sanctions on Ankara.

The European Union, which Turkey still formally aspires to join despite its growing criticism of Ankara’s human rights record, had already condemned the Turkish offensive but has been infuriated by Erdogan’s threats to send refugees to Europe.

“We will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us,” European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs EU summits, said on Twitter. “President Erdogan’s threats … are totally out of place.”

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also accused Erdogan of blackmail and said the military operation should immediately end. France proposed economic sanctions on Turkey, a NATO ally, while Sweden’s parliament demanded an EU arms embargo.

Further piling pressure on Ankara ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday and a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, Cyprus and Greece urged economic sanctions against Turkey over Turkish gas drilling in waters off southern Cyprus.

A senior EU official said the European Union was spending 6 billion euros ($6.63 billion) on supporting the Syrian refugees currently living in camps inside Turkey, adding that “to use this as leverage is totally unacceptable”.

Ankara says the aim of its assault in Syria is to defeat the Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as linked to militant Kurdish separatists in Turkey. It says it wants to create a “safe zone” to return millions of refugees to Syrian soil and that Europe should pay for it, a plan the EU has rejected outright.

The YPG is the main fighting element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the principal ally of the United States in Syria against Islamic State. US Republican lawmakers have joined their Democrat opponents in criticising President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from the region and are now discussing sanctions against Turkey over its offensive.

Brussels relies on Ankara to curb the arrival of refugees into Europe following a 2016 agreement to seal off the Aegean sea route after more than 1 million people entered the bloc.

France’s European affairs minister said Paris wanted next week’s EU summit to specifically discuss sanctions over Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.

“We will not remain powerless when faced with a situation that is shocking for civilians, the SDF and the stability of the region,” Amelie de Montchalin told France Inter, adding that the possibility of sanctions was “on the table”.

So far, EU discussions of sanctions on Turkey have focused on Turkish oil and gas drilling off Cyprus and on the targeting of specific individuals and companies.

But a French diplomatic source said Europe would look “absurd” if the option of sanctions over Ankara’s offensive was not discussed. The source said EU foreign ministers would discuss the issue at their meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

“We can’t just limit it (the sanctions talk) to drilling and there are similarities on both issues,” the source added.

That could lay the ground for EU leaders to weigh sanctions and possibly impose them, although any decision needs consensus and EU diplomats cautioned that many governments were wary of further angering Erdogan, given Turkey’s size and importance.

Hungary, which has refused to take in people fleeing Syria’s eight-year civil war, is against sanctions and blocked an EU statement on Wednesday criticising Turkey, two diplomats said. Agencies 

Source: Car bomb kills 3 in Syria’s Qamishli; EU threatens sanctions against Turkey

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