Turkey launches military offensive in Syria as warplanes bomb Kurdish fighters

Metro 2 months ago
Turkey starts much-anticipated military action in Syria
President Erdogan claims the operation is designed to (Picture: AP; Anadolu Agency/Getty)

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.

epa07907090 Turkey-backed members of Syrian National Army prepare for moving to Turkey with heavy armed vehicles for an expected military operation by Turkey into Kurdish areas of northern Syria, in Azas near Turkey border, Syria, 08 October 2019 (issued 09 October 2019). US President Donald J. Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the area ahead of the anticipated action by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. EPA/STR
Heavily armed vehicles began crossing the border (Picture: EPA)

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.

SANLIURFA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 09: Smoke rises at the site Ras al-Ayn city as Turkish troops along with the Syrian National Army begin Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria against PKK/YPG, Daesh terrorists, across Ceylanpinar district of Sanliurfa, Turkey on October 09, 2019. (Photo by Ibrahim Toprak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Smoke rises at the site Ras al-Ayn city as Turkish troops begin their operation (Picture: Anadolu)
epaselect epa07907085 Turkey-backed members of Syrian National Army prepare for moving to Turkey for an expected military operation by Turkey into Kurdish areas of northern Syria, in Azas near Turkey border, Syria, 08 October 2019 (issued 09 October 2019). US President Donald J. Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the area ahead of the anticipated action by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. EPA/STR
US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the area ahead of the anticipated action by Turkish President Erdogan (Picture: EPA/STR)
Syrian Kurds flashe the v-sign during a demonstration against Turkish threats in Ras al-Ain town in Syria's Hasakeh province near the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. - Syrian Kurds called on Damascus ally Moscow to facilitate "dialogue" with the regime, following threats of a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP) (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Syrian Kurds flashe the v-sign during a demonstration against Turkish threats in Ras al-Ain, Syria (Picture: AFP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks on the phone with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar before reportedly giving orders for the start of the military operation into Syria, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Minutes before Erdogan's announcement, Turkish jets began pounding suspected Syrian Kurdish positions in the Syrian town of Ras al Ayn, according to Turkish media reports.(Turkish Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks on the phone with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar before reportedly giving orders for the start of the military operation into Syria (Picture: AP)

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.


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