Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria, faciliated by the withdrawal of US forces, could lead to a resurgence of Islamic State

The conflict engulfing north-east Syria is a wholly avoidable disaster. It was widely foreseen. It could, and should, have been prevented. Responsibility lies principally with Turkey’s bellicose president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But many others share the blame, including a criminally incompetent Donald Trump, Islamic State jihadists, who previously destabilised the area, and the international community, which has failed, over the course of eight bloody years, to halt Syria’s civil war.

The terrifyingly indiscriminate Turkish artillery barrages and air strikes directed at towns and villages in Kurdish-held areas along the border shame those who ordered them. Erdoğan’s claim that his forces are only targeting terrorists is given the lie by the rising toll of civilian deaths and injuries. Aid agencies have evacuated. Hospitals have closed. The UN says about 100,000 people have fled so far. With Turkey rejecting calls to halt the offensive, it could all get much worse.

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Read More The Observer view on Syria: Syria’s new horror was foretold. It shames us all | Observer editorial

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