THREE people, including a nine-month old baby, have reportedly been killed as Kurdish forces hit back at Turkey by shelling the border town of Akcakale.
This came after the Turkish military pounded more than 181 Kurdish targets after launching a deadly ground and air assault in northern Syria.
Turkish officials said 46 people were injured in the attacks in Sanliurfa province.
Airstrikes and artillery barrages were unleashed along the border, lines of cars, trucks and motorised rickshaws could be seen racing down the main roads.
Families in flight could be seen having hastily packed their belongings into duffel bags and plastic sacks.
The Norwegian Refugee Council estimates that some 450,000 people live within three miles of the border, including 90,000 who have already fled the civil war at least once.
The strikes came as Donald Trump hit back at claims he had abandoned the Kurds — a US ally — adding they “didn’t help” in World War Two.
The US President had been accused of double-crossing the fighters, crucial in the war on ISIS, by pulling US troops out of the war-torn country.
But he hit back on Wednesday saying the Kurds “didn’t help us in the Second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy”.
He added the Kurds were only willing to help with “their land”.
“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds.”
His comments came as Turkish ground troops reportedly crossed the border into Syria after airstrikes began earlier yesterday.
Turkish operation so far:
Turkey insists the military campaign will enable it to create a ‘peace corridor’ along its border with Syria by wiping out ‘terrorists’ in the region.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s troops launched their strikes after reportedly being given the green light by the White House.
However on Wednesday, Trump insisted he did not endorse the controversial military operation and thought it was a “bad idea”.
The Turkish hit dozens of key targets with air strikes and howitzers, according to the country’s defence ministry.
Plumes of smoke could be seen rising near the town of Qamishli and clashes continued throughout last night as Turkey struck at least six border towns.
At least seven civilians and three members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed in the bombardment, war monitors said.
Turkish Armed Forces’ howitzers deploy across Syrian town of Tell Abyad[/caption]
Turkey fired the first shots against Kurdish fighters – who Ankara regard as terrorists – by taking out a crucial supply route on the Syria-Iraq border.
Explosions then rocked the border town of Ras al-Ain, as Turkey unleashed airstrikes and artillery fire.
Kurdish civilian leaders in Syria have now called on the international community to act as “a humanitarian catastrophe might befall our people”.
The SDF said Turkish warplanes struck its region in the northeast, sparking “huge panic among people” on Wednesday.
“Turkish warplanes have started to carry out air strikes on civilian areas,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.
Erdogan’s jet fighters last night struck the Semalka Border Crossing in a bid to stop Kurdish fighters resupplying their fighters via the route that links the two countries, officials said.
Clips from the area overnight that reportedly show explosions at Kurdish military bases emerged as the Turkish army massed troops on the border.
It is believed the explosions show the crossing being obliterated.
The US president’s decision stunned world leaders and sparked fears a Srebrenica-style massacre of the Kurdish population could ensue.
But he earlier defended the withdrawal of US troops adding “the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out”.
Trump then added most think he has made the right call despite effectively leaving the SDF to fend for themselves.
He tweeted: “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters.
“Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good.
Members of Syrian National Army (SNA) pray on the side of the road[/caption]
Members of Syrian National Army (SNA) head towards the Battlefront[/caption]
A boy looks from a car as his family prepare to flee after a mortar destroyed part of their home in Akcakale[/caption]
“Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency.
“We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons.”
Earlier he had said: “People are extremely thrilled because they say it’s time to bring our people back home. We’re not a police force.
“The UK was very thrilled at this decision … many people agree with it very strongly,” he then added.
However, the decision drew criticism from Democrats and a rebuke from Republicans in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
He said an early US withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran” and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Turkish forces artillery pieces are seen on their new positions near the border with Syria in Sanliurfa province[/caption]
Some unconfirmed reports claim the Turkish military have already carried out strikes in Syria[/caption]
Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke over the phone before the shock announcement[/caption]
The Kentucky Republican says it would also make it easier for ISIS to rebuild in the battle-scarred region.
The move to allow Turkey to invade came after Trump was “out negotiated” by President Erdogan, reports Newsweek.
A US security official, said to have direct knowledge of a conversation between the pair, claims the president “got rolled” by his Turkish counterpart.
Calling Trump “spineless” he reportedly said his actions have left the US in “a state of increased danger for decades to come.”
It’s feared the 15,000 jihadis being held by SDF forces in Syria, including at the Al-Hawl camp, could be set free in prison breaks carried out by sleeper cells.
While Turkey has assured observers that it will not allow ISIS to return “in any shape or form”, experts believe its actions could lead to a resurgence.
Among the prisoners are thought to be 2,500 foreign fighters, largely from European countries, who could return home if freed.
A photo issued on Monday showing US and Turkish military forces in armoured trucks[/caption]
SDF troops have been key allies in the US fighting ISIS in Syria[/caption]
An ISIS fighter involved in a shootout with SDF troops in Syria[/caption]