Turks and Free Syrian Army Push Towards Tel Tamir as Syrian Army Falls Back from the Fighting

1 November 2019

Tel Tamir, Syria

Our team treating a wounded Kurd near Tel Tamir on Oct. 30.
Our team treating a wounded Kurd near Tel Tamir on Oct. 30.

Dear friends,

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Turks have now pushed their way to within four kilometers (2.5 miles) north of Tel Tamir. The Turkish-supported FSA has come down with foot soldiers, DShKs, Turkish armored and personnel carriers. There are at least two Turkish tanks and three Turkish APCs on the assault. As of the evening of Oct. 31, the offensive has stopped as there are talks between Russian, Turkey, and Syria.

The FSA, many of whom are jihadis from ISIS or al-Nusra or al-Qaeda or others are absolutely vicious and brutal, as you can see by posts they do themselves of executing medics and executing women and torturing and mutilating people. No Christian, Kurd or Muslim that was here can stay because they will be suspected of supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or the Assad regime.

Here, in this zone of invasion and death and displacement, over 300,000 people have been forced to flee the Turkish border down to Tel Tamir and other areas to the east and west of the city because of the Turkish invasion.

Over the course of Oct. 30-31, most people (over 3,000) fled Tel Tamir and now less then 200 Christians remain. We spoke with them and they said they will have to flee if the Turks/FSA keep coming. Unless there is some agreement or massive reinforcement with armor, Tel Tamir will be lost in the next few days. Right now, it’s still holding and still relatively safe. There have been Turkish airstrikes from drones every day but so far no big airstrikes or fighter jets.

Some of the last remaining Christians in Tel Tamir - click the photo to see video from the church.
Some of the last remaining Christians in Tel Tamir – click the photo to see video from the church.

On Oct. 31, we went forward to try to see if we could establish a forward casualty collection point (CCP), but we found that that point had already been lost and the second point had only four people and they were going to retreat. So, we pulled back a little and began small-arms taking fire, just enough to know that the FSA had seen us in this open, flat road. We pulled back again to a position a little closer to Tel Tamir and set up a mobile CCP.  At the CCP we get wounded, treat and stabilize as best we can, and then transport them back to the hospital in Tel Tamir.

Many of the Syrian Army has dropped back. On Oct. 31, we watched a Syrian gun jeep drive away from the front line as they don’t have the armor, weapons that they need to stop the Turkish advance.

The night before, a Syrian Army commander had said, “We were told that there was an arrangement. That when we showed up and the Kurds left, there’d be no more fighting. But when we showed up, the Turks killed our men. Captured them, killed them, and wounded many.”

We’ve evacuated many of the wounded these last four days, including Syrian Army wounded which shows how serious the fighting is. On this mission so far, we’ve evacuated over 30 wounded under fire and, working with the Kurdish Red Crescent, we’ve helped evacuate over 200 wounded. For most of those evacuations, we had to go behind or close to FSA, which means they were shooting at us. Other evacuations that were easier to get out were picked up by other ambulances which allowed us to focus on the places where it was hard to get in and get the wounded out.

Between Oct. 9 to Oct. 30, there were 1091 people wounded and 206 killed, from the Turkish/FSA attacks.

Wounded Total: 1091

   Children: 69

   Adult, Female: 149

   Adult, Male: 873

Killed Total: 206 Killed

   Children: 8

   Adult, Female: 20

   Adult, Male: 178

Tel Tamir Hospital Statistics (Oct. 9-30)

   Total Patients Treated: 609

   Patients transported to Qamishli: 286

   Dead: 119

We’ve also been able to provide relief supplies like food, water, and blankets, to over 1,200 people who have fled from the fighting. In Hasakah, where most of the internally displaced people are, we’ve partnered with other groups to help feed about 15,000 people every day.

None of this would be possible without the help of many friends here and around the world who have prayed for and supported this mission. We are grateful for each and every one of you!

Thank you and God bless you,

Dave Eubank and the Free Burma Rangers