Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seize border town of Ras al Ain - official

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized control of the center of the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain on Saturday (October 12), on day four of Ankara's offensive against Kurdish forces.

The claim was quickly denied by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Turkish forces had stepped up their bombardment of the town - hours after U.S. troops in the region also came under artillery fire from Turkish positions.

U.S.military vehicles are seen here some 60 miles west of the main conflict, in footage obtained by Reuters from Kurdish television.

The Pentagon said none of its personnel were harmed.

Washington wants Turkey to halt its push against U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG forces, saying Ankara is causing "great harm", with President Donald Trump on Friday (October 11) again warning of sanctions.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"So,Turkey and the Kurds have been fighting for hundreds of years. We are out of there but we have a tremendous financial strength which I've helped a lot with because our country has become much stronger since I've been president. By many trillions of dollars. And if Turkey does something that they shouldn't be doing we will put on sanctions the likes of which very few countries have ever seen before."

Turkey launched its incursion into northern Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops fighting alongside Kurdish forces, an order made after Trump spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.

Trump has since offered to mediate to end the conflict.

On Saturday, Iran said it was ready to kick off talks between all parties.

There's been fierce international criticism of the assault by Turkey and wide concern about its humanitarian consequences.

U.N.estimates put the number of displaced at upwards of a hundred thousand.

The Syrian Kurdish-led administration puts the figure at almost two hundred thousand people.

President Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the mounting criticism, saying that Turkey will quote, "not stop, no matter what anyone says."