Invasion of northeast Syria carries gain and risk for Turkey
Invasion of northeast Syria carries gain and risk for Turkey
Turkish military, Syrian rebel forces to cross into Syria 'shortly': Erdogan's aide
11 October, 2019, 17:27
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the start of the invasion, which followed an announcement on Sunday by Donald Trump that U.S. troops supporting the fight against Daesh would step aside.
Turkish soldiers have been seen arriving in a town on Turkey's border with Syria, just hours after the defense ministry said it had completed preparations to launch a military operation in north-east Syria.
(Reuters) In this Monday, Oct 7, 2019 photo, Turkish-backed forces from the newly regrouped Syrian National Army exercise during military training in preparation for an anticipated Turkish operation targeting YPG, Syrian affiliation of PKK, near Azaz, in north Syria, before Trump's decision to withdraw the United States forces from Syria.
President Tayyip Erdogan has recently talked about pushing even deeper into Syria, beyond the proposed "safe zone" region to the cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, in order to allow still more refugees to return to Syria.
Erdogan, announcing the start of the action, said the aim was to eliminate what he called a "terror corridor" on Turkey's southern border. In a Washington Post column published Wednesday, Fahrettin Altun said Turkey aimed to "neutralize" Syrian Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria and to "liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs".
The SDF, led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), has denounced Washington's move as a "stab in the back". A Reuters cameraman in the Turkish town of Akcakale saw several explosions across the border in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, where a witness also reported people fleeing en masse.
After Erdogan announced the offensive, Trump called the operation "a bad idea".
Turkish troops have reportedly crossed the border into Syria after Trump said he would destabilize the Turkish economy if they went too far.
Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.
However, Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, claimed that Turkish warplanes had begun carrying out attacks in Syria's civilian areas, CNN reported.
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In his statement Wednesday, Trump said Turkey is now "responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form".
He also said that US troops "must leave the region" and Kurdish forces in Syria "should support the Syrian Army".
Earlier on Wednesday, warning of a "humanitarian catastrophe", Syrian Kurdish forces issued a general mobilisation call ahead of Turkey's attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 15 people, including eight civilians, had been killed in the airstrikes.
Trump said he made clear from the start of his political career that "I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars - especially those that don't benefit the United States".
European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday demanded Turkey halt its military operation in northern Syria, telling Ankara the bloc would not pay for any so-called "safe zone" that might be created.
Trump has long criticized President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but the subsequent rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State has convinced many national security officials, and lawmakers such as Graham, that a precipitous USA troop withdrawal from the region would leave the US and its allies even more vulnerable to extremism.
Tensions have risen at the border between Turkey and Syria, on the expectation of a Turkish military operation into Syria.
The announcement of the drills comes as Turkey says it is about to launch an offensive into northern Syria.
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