The Turkish-backed militia fighters have been preparing for the ground invasion of northern Syria for days and now it has happened.
It is the furthest east they have gone so far; through a breach in the Turkish border wall they flooded through to attack and take the key border town of Ras al Ain.
They are backed up by armoured vehicles, artillery and air support.
Image: Turkish-backed militia are backed by tanks and airstrikes
Anyone left to fight them didn’t stand a chance.
We were driving to Ras al Ain when our phones started ringing and we pulled to the side of the road.
Our Kurdish drivers and producers were all on their phones.
The message from all their sources was clear: the road ahead, the turning we were about to take, had fallen and there was nothing to do but turn back.
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We drove to the city of Hassakah about an hour to the south. You could feel the tension as we arrived. Every roundabout, every intersection, every checkpoint was manned with soldiers, their weapons ready.
Flatback four-wheel-drive trucks with mounted machine guns and filled with balaclava clad fighters careered through the streets.
The roads were jammed with traffic – vehicle after vehicle packed with families and their possessions: clothes, animals, suitcases and kitchen cabinets. Even sinks.
Image: Thousands of people have been displaced
Image: People have been staying in schools in a city with now water
Hassakah isn’t all that safe, but its the safest place in these parts at the moment and thousands upon thousands of people have flooded here.
At an intersection I could see two lorries with soldiers crammed on board, then another and another. Our Kurdish guide told us they were troops from the city of Deir Azur, brought back to mount a counter-offensive against the Turkish invasion.
They are the first contingent to arrive. Thousands more are coming.
We followed them along the road, weaving through the traffic, as they chanted in unison that they were going to retake Ras al Ain.
What struck me was how lightly armed they were: just AK 47s.
Against an army supported with air power they must know they are heading towards carnage. They can take on any militia but they can’t take on tanks and air power.
But the Kurds have nowhere to go, so they are going to face their destiny regardless.
Turkish forces intensify Syrian bombardment
Honestly, it’s awful to watch. Young men going to die because two presidents did a deal? Goodness me.
But, and it’s a big but, they are soldiers who have dedicated themselves to protecting the Kurdish and Arab civilians who make up the population of this part of Syria and those civilians need all the help they can get.
It takes a while, but soon you realise: the teeming streets are filled with thousands who have been displaced.
They are in trucks or on the sides of roads with suitcases. They have lost everything – they had to leave it all behind as the fighting intensified.
Many have nowhere to go. Some – really quite a small number – are being put up in schools.
Image: Young children are among those looking for a new home
And the schools are already full – men, women and children sharing classrooms unfit for the task. There are no adequate facilities for families with small children to stay free from disease.
This isn’t opinion – it’s a fact. I’ve seen it dozens of times around the world. Schools are for teaching. They are not designed to look after refugees.
To add to the problems, the city has no water. To reiterate: NO water. The pumping stations have been destroyed.
Volunteers are doing the best they can and the displaced are being helped by them and the immediate community. But this will deteriorate very quickly. That is another fact.
In just a few days this crisis has escalated dramatically.
The Kurds are trapped and against the second biggest army in NATO they are, to all intents and purposes, defenceless.
This crisis will very soon become a humanitarian disaster.
Source : Sky News