Turkey Begins an Offensive Against Kurdish Fighters in Syria (Vid & Pics)

Members of Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (former FSA) flash the V-sign as they drive back to Turkey after they went in for some time on inspection according to the Turkish police entourage in the same area at the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) — Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces withdrew from the area, with activists reporting airstrikes on a town on Syria’s northern border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the campaign, which followed an announcement Sunday by U.S. President Donald Trump that American troops would step aside in a shift in U.S. policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurds. They were longtime U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.

“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” Erdogan said in a tweet.

He added that Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, had launched what they called “Operation Peace Spring” against Kurdish fighters to eradicate what Erdogan called “the threat of terror” against Turkey

TV reports in Turkey said its warplanes had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border.

Turkish airstrikes hit he town of Ras al-Ayn on the Syrian side of the border, activists in Syria said.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said Turkish warplanes were targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria, causing “a huge panic” in the region.

Backdropped by a graffiti of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, members of Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (former FSA) drive back to Turkey after they went in for some time on inspection according to the Turkish police entourage in the same area at the border in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

There were no independent reports, however, on what was being struck in the initial hours of the operation.

Earlier Wednesday, warning of a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Syrian Kurdish forces who are allied with the United States issued a general mobilization call ahead of Turkey’s attack.

The Turkish operation would ignite new fighting in Syria’s 8-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands of people, and 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. Associated Press journalists on the Turkish side of the border overlooking Tal Abyad saw Turkish forces crossing into Syria in military vehicles Wednesday, although there was no official statement from either side that the offensive had begun.

Expectations of an invasion increased after Trump’s announcement on Sunday, although he also threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.

Turkey has been massing troops for days along its border with Syria and vowed it would go ahead with the military operation and not bow to the U.S. threat. A senior Turkish official said Turkey’s troops would “shortly” cross into Syria, together with allied Syrian rebel forces to battle the Kurdish fighters and also IS militants.

Trump later cast his decision to pull back U.S. troops from parts of northeast Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from the “endless war” in the Middle East. Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing an ally, the Syrian Kurdish forces, and undermining Washington’s credibility.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency’s communications director, called on the international community in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday to rally behind Ankara, which he said would also take over the fight against the Islamic State group.

Turkey aimed to “neutralize” Syrian Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria and to “liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs,” Altun wrote.

Members of Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (former FSA) flash the V-sign as they drive back to Turkey after they went in for some time on inspection according to the Turkish police entourage in the same area at the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Erdogan discussed plans for the incursion with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader told his Russian counterpart by phone that the planned military action in the region east of the Euphrates River “will contribute to the peace and stability” and also “pave the way for a political process” in Syria.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkish preparations for the offensive were continuing.

In its call for a general mobilization, the local civilian Kurdish authority known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also asked the international community to live up to its responsibilities as “a humanitarian catastrophe might befall our people.”

“We call upon our people, of all ethnic groups, to move toward areas close to the border with Turkey to carry out acts of resistance during this sensitive historical time,” it said, adding that the mobilization would last for three days.

The Kurds also said that they want the U.S.-led coalition to set up a no-fly zone in northeastern Syria to protect the civilian population from Turkish airstrikes.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish group urged Moscow to broker and guarantee talks with the Syrian government in Damascus in light of Turkey’s planned military operation. The Syrian Kurdish-led administration said in a statement it is responding positively to calls from Moscow encouraging the Kurds and the Syrian government to settle their difference through talks.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, front center, flanked by Turkish army’s top commanders before he speak at the National Defence University, in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (Turkish Defense Ministry via AP, Pool)

Syria’s Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey’s plans for an invasion, calling it a “blatant violation” of international law and vowing to repel the incursion. Although it blamed some Kurdish groups for what is happening, saying they were being used as a tool to help an alleged “American project,” it said Syria is ready to welcome back its “stray sons if they return to their senses,” referring to the pro-U.S. Kurdish fighters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Washington of playing “very dangerous games” with the Syrian Kurds, saying that the U.S. first propped up the Syrian Kurdish “quasi state” in northeastern Syria and is now withdrawing its support.

“Such reckless attitude to this highly sensitive subject can set fire to the entire region, and we have to avoid it at any cost,” he said during a visit to Kazakhstan. Russian news media said Moscow communicated that position to Washington.

Earlier Wednesday, IS militants targeted a post of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which was once the de facto IS capital at the height of the militants’ power in the region.

The SDF, which is holding thousands of IS fighters in several detention facilities in northeastern Syria, has warned that a Turkish incursion might lead to the resurgence of the extremists. The U.S.-allied Kurdish-led force captured the last IS area controlled by the militants in eastern Syria in March.

In the IS attack, three suicide bombers struck Kurdish positions in Raqqa. There was no immediate word on casualties. An activist collective known as Raqqa is being Silently Slaughtered reported an exchange of fire and an explosion.

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. (Turkish Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool)

The Observatory said the attack involved two IS fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.

IS claimed responsibility, saying one of its members killed or wounded 13 SDF members.

Also Wednesday, Iranian state TV reported a surprise military drill with special operations forces near the country’s border with Turkey, in Iran’s Western Azerbaijan province. The TV didn’t mention the expected Turkish offensive into Syria or elaborate on the reasons for the drill.

The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said he was alarmed at Turkey’s planned offensive, adding in a statement that such an invasion would be a “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and threatens Syria’s integrity.”

Aboul Gheit said it also threatens to inflame further conflicts in eastern and northern Syria, and could lead to an IS revival.

___
By LEFTERIS PITARAKIS and BASSEM MROUE Associated Press

Mroue reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Mehmet Guzel in Akcakale, Turkey; Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed.

This photo by Hawar news, the news agency for the semi-autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria (ANHA), shows smoke rising from shelling by Turkish forces, at the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria says Turkish warplanes have started targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria. (ANHA via AP)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from a fire inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Shortly after the Turkish operation inside Syria had started,a convoy of Turkish forces vehicles is driven through the town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border between Turkey and Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Shortly after the Turkish operation inside Syria had started and backdropped by a graffiti of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a Turkish soldier stands on the Turkish side of the border in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this photo provided by Rojava Media Center, a pro-Kurdish media group, Syrians flee as smoke rises from shelling by Turkish forces, in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday the start of a Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. (Rojava Media Center via AP)
Shortly after the Turkish operation inside Syria had started, local residents cheer and applaud as a convoy of Turkish forces vehicles is driven through the town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border between Turkey and Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

3 Comments

  1. What we are witnessing ..is the end result of a failed foreign policy of regime change perpetual wars by the leadership of the Republican and Democratic party sponsored and coordinated by the most degenerate Sadist of the C.I.A, Stated Department ..like Patrick Theros, Jeffrey Pyatt, Stevens all ambassadors in the Middle East and 30 year career C.I.A and State department gangsters who with C.I.A leader George Bush Sr..and war criminals.. Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Hillary and Bil Clinton , Joe Biden, Barack Obama, George Bush Jr….Dick Cheney., Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Summer, Adam Shiff..the current intelligence committee director of his most recent regime change enemy of the state …Donald Trump to wage economic, political , and military warfare against the independent countries of the world, with the murderers row of war criminals and degenerates from the countries of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel!

    The casualty of the Turkish invasion…is the myths..that America is entitled to destroy countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, libya, Yugoslavia, Syria, lebanon, Somalia, Cuba, Ukraine, now Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen ..and it goes on and on .without the controlled Media exposing the stench of hate crimes and crimes against peace… and the false narrative ..that we are providing a humanitarian effort to free the people of the world ..when we are simply just removing leaders, and replacing with Security State dictators ..who do what we say!

    .

  2. Cont..
    The other myth destroyed … was the lie ..that we needed to invade and occupy .. the countries of the Middle East to fight Terrorism ..or you know using the 9/11 set up .. as the launch for the “War on Terrorism” ..which if you haven’t noticed. .. has only resulted in the overthrow of elected governments of the Middle East ..fighting ISIS and Al Queda Terrorists sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar ( Patrick Theros buddies) UAE and of course .. America!

    To understand the treason .. it take the most hated enemy of American , Saudi Arabia and Israeli mobsters who is on the hit list of these traitors to the world… the leader of Iran to state the obvious ..as to who is preventing peace in Syria, and is openly on the territorial sovereignty of Syria ..not the Proxy Kurdish Armies of America dictating ground rules in Syria ..which affect the population of Syria!

    Additionally, they do not protect the legitimate government of Syria fighting and will utlitmately advance on Turkish forces .if they try to stay in Syria .. and attempt to create a phony safe zone ..which is just a U.S/Turkish land grab of Syria!

    What the Iranian Government stated .. “We condemn the invasion of Syria by Turkey as well as ..the occupation by U.S force in Syria ..and demand U.S forces completely remove themselves from those Occupied Areas..and allow the Syrian government to bring resolution to the Syrian Kurds!

    U.S treason .is raping our treasury and blood !.

Comments are closed.