RAS AL-AIN, Syria (AFP) — Turkey launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, with intensive bombardment paving the way in which for a floor offensive made attainable by the withdrawal of US troops.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced the beginning of the assault on Twitter and shortly after jets and artillery focused Kurdish positions alongside the complete width of the border, sending 1000’s of civilians fleeing their properties.
That was adopted late within the night by the start of a floor operation, the Turkish protection ministry mentioned.
The spokesman for one of many pro-Turkish Syrian militant teams instructed AFP the land section of the operation started in Tal Abad, and Turkish media reported particular forces and armored autos had entered at a number of factors alongside the border.
No less than eight civilians and 7 Kurdish fighters have been killed on Wednesday, principally in cross-border artillery fireplace, in varied areas alongside the border, together with within the metropolis of Qamishli, a conflict monitor mentioned.
The assault had appeared inevitable since US President Donald Trump on Sunday introduced a navy pullback from the border, however the assault triggered worldwide condemnation and an emergency assembly of the UN Safety Council set for Thursday.
The White Home mentioned Wednesday the Turkish assault was a “dangerous concept” even after it had successfully gifted Erdogan a inexperienced gentle and smashed the US alliance with the Kurdish forces, who spearheaded 5 years of floor battles towards the Islamic State group in Syria.
Kurdish sources reported that no less than 16 positions have been struck within the first hours of the operation, to which the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) responded with some cross-border artillery fireplace.
The SDF known as on the worldwide group to impose a no-fly zone to guard towards “an imminent humanitarian disaster.”
Erdogan, who dubbed the assault “Operation Peace Spring,” says the offensive is critical to curb the ability of the SDF on account of its ties with Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey.
He additionally desires a “secure zone” on the Syrian aspect of the border the place Turkey might ship again a few of the three.6 million refugees it hosts from the eight-year civil conflict.
Within the face of the onslaught, Kurdish authorities introduced a common mobilization, urging all civilians to “head to the border with Turkey… to withstand throughout this delicate historic second.”
Kurdish leaders mentioned they’d maintain their erstwhile US ally and the entire worldwide group liable for any “humanitarian disaster.”
In Ras al-Ain, Kurdish-led safety forces arrange checkpoints and stockpiled tires to set alight to blur the imaginative and prescient of Turkish navy pilots, an AFP correspondent reported.
Ras al-Ain was one of many locations from which US troops withdrew on Monday.
“We won’t go away this land,” mentioned Kaws Appear, a 32-year-old Ras al-Ain resident.
“Conflict has been chasing us for years, and on a regular basis Erdogan threatens us with a brand new assault,” he added.
It was anticipated that Ras al-Ain and Tal Abad could be the main focus of the primary assaults.
Kurdish forces have dug trenches and tunnels in each areas, masking streets with steel canopies to dam the cameras of Turkish drones.
However the flat and open terrain favor the vastly superior Turkish navy over the Kurds, who don’t have any air drive and restricted tools.
The Kurdish-led SDF say they misplaced 11,000 personnel in years of operations towards IS that climaxed in March with a battle towards the ultimate bastion of the jihadists’ caliphate in Baghouz.
Trump, who’s campaigning for a second mandate, has confronted a barrage of criticism, together with from shut allies in Washington, for showing to depart US allies to their destiny.
Senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham argued the US administration had “shamelessly deserted” the Kurds and warned he would “lead (an) effort in Congress to make Erdogan pay a heavy value.”
There has additionally been a refrain of worldwide concern, together with from France and Britain — the highest US companions within the anti-IS coalition — and Russia, now much more firmly the primary international participant in Syria.
Since 2015, Russia has been the primary navy backer of the Syrian authorities, which has seized on the coverage shift from Trump to attempt to persuade the Kurds to just accept the restoration of central authorities management.
Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia additionally condemned the offensive, arguing it might have “adverse repercussions on the safety and stability of the area,” whereas the United Arab Emirates deplored Turkey’s “flagrant interference in Arab affairs.”
The Kurds have warned Turkish offensive would reverse the navy positive factors achieved towards IS and permit the jihadist group’s surviving leaders to return out of hiding.
IS claimed an in a single day suicide assault by two of its fighters in its former Syria stronghold of Raqa, the most recent proof that jihadist sleeper cells remained a menace.