A planned Turkish military operation in northern Syria has now begun, the country’s president announced Wednesday, as Kurdish fighters say warplanes are already bombing civilian areas in the region.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that the maneuvers being carried out against Syrian Kurdish forces – which Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey – are part of Operation Peace Spring.
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said in a tweet. “#OperationPeaceSpring will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.”
A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces says Turkish warplanes have “started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas”, causing a “huge panic among people of the region.”
The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria. Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 9, 2019
The Kurds — who have been longtime U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria — requested air support from American forces in response to the strikes. But U.S. military officials tell Fox News that President Trump has ordered them to not get involved.
A small group of Turkish forces first entered northeastern Syria Wednesday morning near the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, Bloomberg reported. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency later said Turkish artillery units have been shelling suspected Syrian Kurdish targets in Tal Abayd, while two mortar shells fired from Ras al-Ayn struck the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar. No injuries were reported in the latter attack.