Today Turkey began a planned military offensive codenamed Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria on, launching airstrikes and artillery fire across the border just days after the Trump administration announced it was pulling US troops back from the area.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive – which began with air raids on Tuesday – is aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” so millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
“Our aim is to destroy the terror corridor which is trying to be established on our southern border and to bring peace and peace to the region,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted as he announced the start of the operation.
#OperationPeaceSpring will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.
We will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 9, 2019
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.
Turkey launched an assault on Kurdish positions in northern Syria on Wednesday with air strikes and explosions reported near the border.
Moments later, a cloud of white smoke rose over the Ras al-Ain border area, an AFP correspondent said, adding that warplanes could be seen flying overhead.
Turkish TV broadcast footage of fighter jets taking off and artillery firing.
Roads in northern Syria were clogged as hundreds of families with mattresses strapped to cars and motorcycles carrying five or more people fled the Kurdish stronghold.
Pictures published by Getty showed dozens of Turkish military vehicles streaming to the border with Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, confirmed that Turkish air strikes had hit the Ras al-Ain area.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported shelling of Kurdish militant positions in the border town of Tal Abyad.
Syria’s Kurds called up civilians on Wednesday to defend against the assault, while President Donald Trump issued a statement confirming the invasion of Syria had begun.
“This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea. There are no American soldiers in the area…”
He insisted the United States had not abandoned its Kurdish allies who were a crucial ally against IS.
….the area and start a new war all over again. Turkey is a member of NATO. Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help). I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019