Turkey has started its military operation in Northern Syria, as thousands of troops crossed the border and fighter jets began launching airstrikes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the offensive on Twitter this afternoon, calling the operation, ‘Peace Spring’.
He said the offensive aims to eradicate ‘the threat of terror’ against Turkey.
Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish jets had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border.
Mr Erdogan wants to create a ‘safe zone’ and clear the area of Kurdish militias, which Turkey views as terrorists.
President Trump has been criticised for the removal of US troops from the Syria-Turkish border.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish YPG, are a trusted ally of the US and were instrumental in helping to defeat Isis.
Immediately after news of the withdrawal broke, the Turkish government began making preparations for the invasion.
Turkish airstrikes have hit the town of Ras al-Ayn on the Syrian side of the border, activists in Syria said.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said Turkish warplanes were targeting ‘civilian areas’ in northern Syria, causing ‘a huge panic’ in the region.
There were no independent reports, however, on what was being struck in the initial hours of the operation.
Syrian Kurdish forces warned of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ ahead of Turkey’s attack.
The Turkish operation could lead to ethnic conflict in Syria’s eight-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported that people had begun fleeing the border town of Tal Abyad.
Kurdish politician Nawaf Khalil, who is in northern Syria, said some people were leaving the town for villages farther south.
Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.