Turkish military launches attack on Kurdish positions in Syria

Turkish military launches attack on Kurdish positions in Syria

Earlier, Islamic State militants reportedly carried out an attack on the city of Raqqa in northern Syria, including a post manned by us -backed Kurdish-led fighters.

Shortly after Trump spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday, the White House issued a statement saying Turkey would soon be moving ahead with its "long-planned operation in Northern Syria" and that US forces would "no longer be in the immediate area".

"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area", Erdogan added. Turkish media outlets aired footage of warplanes leaving from an air base in southeastern Turkey. Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing a us ally, the Syrian Kurdish forces, and undermining American credibility. Mr Trump denied he had abandoned the forces, the most capable U.S. partners in fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Trump has defended his decision to remove U.S. troops from the area, saying he was "not siding with anybody" - Kurdish forces or the Turkish government - and reiterated an earlier warning to Turkey about potential economic devastation. But the United States backs the YPG and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.

Reports late on October 8 said the Turkish Army had boosted its positions on the border with Syria, with dozens of military trucks, armored personnel carriers, and tanks seen heading to the town of Akcakale.

"Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly", Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish government communications director tweeted from a verified account in the early hours of Wednesday morning from Istanbul. "Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded".

Kurdish flags were hoisted on tents, opposite the Turkish flag flying on the other side of the frontier.

"Should have never been there in the first place!" he added later, after Erdogan's announcement that the offensive had begun.

Ankara said the SDF is affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.

Another fear is that the operation is a method of persecuting the Kurdish people, who are stateless and are scattered around various countries in the Levant.

Turkey had been poised to advance into northeast Syria since U.S. troops began vacating the area on Sunday in an abrupt policy shift by Trump. However, state TV didn't mention the expected Turkish operation nor elaborate on the number of troops taking part in the drill in Qushchi in Iran's Western Azerbaijan province. Trump's decision was widely criticised as a betrayal of the force which did the bulk of the ground fighting against Isis in Syria that risked new fighting in the eight-year-old war and could lead to Isis' resurgence.

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The SDF is not happy with America's decision to remove its forces from the border between north-eastern Syria and Turkey.

Mustafa Şentop, Turkish parliament speaker, said: "Operation Peace Spring commenced by Turkey aims to ensure the stability of our region that the terrorist organizations desire to sentence to chaos".

"For American allies the region, it definitely sends a very serious and disturbing message that nobody can rely on Mr. Trump for help when help is needed", he said. "God forbid there are airstrikes or mortars close to us". Spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, the SDF has been the backbone of the USA -led campaign against Islamic State.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Turkey to show restraint and avoid military action in the region, adding that US forces should leave the region.

The operation started at 4 p.m. local time, the ministry said in a statement. United States troops based in the town withdrew early Monday after the White House announcement.

The Kurdish call to arms came as a senior aide to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's president, warned that the attack would begin soon.

"All the shops around me are open, except that there are no people", Mohammed said in a telephone interview. "The only people heading to the marketplace today are those who need to buy food or things that are absolutely necessary". "They're going in to kill the Kurds".

And the town itself was divided.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces took heavy losses in the US-backed campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria which they led to its successful conclusion in March.

"We have people who were displaced from Afrin because of the Turkish invasion - they are anxious that they will be displaced once again", Mohammed said, referring to Ankara's 2018 military offensive against a Kurdish enclave west of Tal Abyad. The fact that they hate this decision would, under normal circumstances, be an indication that we should consider supporting it.

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