Turkey begins offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria
Turkey begins offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria
Turkish military, Syrian rebel forces to cross into Syria 'shortly': Erdogan's aide
11 October, 2019, 17:27
President Donald Trump has dismissed the idea that the USA would leave the Kurds - who he called "special people and wonderful fighters" - to a grisly fate, warning North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner Turkey of "economic devastation" if their upcoming incursion led to any "unnecessary fighting". The withdrawal was widely criticised in Washington as a betrayal of America's Kurdish allies. Turkish howitzer fire then hit bases and ammunition depots of the Kurdish YPG militia. Artillery was also stationed in the area, and soldiers wandered around a nearby military camp.
The first phase of the Turkish attack is expected to begin along a 120km stretch between the border towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain - the same area that USA forces evacuated on Donald Trump's orders on Monday. Turkey, he said, will never tolerate the creation of a "terror corridor or a terror state" at its border under any circumstances, regardless of the cost.
World powers fear the action could open a new chapter in Syria's war and worsen regional turmoil.
He also wants a "safe zone" on the Syrian side of the border where Turkey could send back some of the 3.6 million refugees it hosts from the eight-year civil war.
Erdogan earlier told Russia's President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the operation would help peace and stability in Syria.
On Tuesday, Turkish officials said the military had struck the Syrian-Iraqi border to prevent Kurdish forces from using the route to reinforce the region, though details of the strikes were hazy.
Turkey considers the YPG as terrorists affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a 35-year-long battle against the Turkish state. The Kurds played a leading role in capturing territory from Islamic State, and now hold the largest swathe of Syria outside of the hands of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed militia, said that Turkish warplanes began airstrikes.
The spokesman for one of the pro-Turkish Syrian militant groups told AFP the land phase of the operation began in Tal Abad, and Turkish media reported special forces and armoured vehicles had entered at several points along the border.
"According to initial reports there are casualties among civilian people", it said in a statement.
The northeastern border region, now controlled by Kurdish-led forces, stretches 480 km (300 miles) from the Euphrates river in the west to the Iraq border to the east.
USA officials meanwhile reportedly said they had no plans to take control of prisons holding Islamic State (Isil) suspects if their Kurdish guards withdrew, further raising fears that jihadists could escape amid the offensive.
"We are concerned about what we're seeing of the actions of the Turkish Government moving into Syria, and what that could mean for the safety of people in that area", he said.
SDF fighters armed with rocket launchers were later seen deploying in the area of Ras al-Ain. Kurdish-led security forces set up checkpoints and stockpiled tyres to set alight to blur the vision of Turkish military pilots.
Mr Graham, usually a vocal ally to Mr Trump, has repeatedly criticised Mr Trump's decision to withdraw United States troops.
Kurdish forces have dug trenches and tunnels in both areas, covering streets with metal canopies to block the cameras of Turkish drones.
An SDF spokesman appealed to the United States and its allies for a "no fly zone" to protect it from Turkish attacks in northeast Syria.
The Syrian Kurdish group urged Moscow to broker talks with the Syrian government in Damascus in light of the Turkish operation.
"This must not be allowed to happen again", she added.
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Yesterday, we saw USA troops, but this time they were on their way out of the area, and that terrified people", he said. The Defense Department had also posted photos of SDF fighters withdrawing from the area and dismantling fortifications.
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