Published: Sat, October 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Turkey launches assault on Syrian Kurds, bombarding border

Turkey launches assault on Syrian Kurds, bombarding border

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Twitter Wednesday that the Turkish offensive into northeast Syria has started.

"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched Operation Peace Spring", Erdogan tweeted.

Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. issued a "general mobilization" call Wednesday in northeastern Syria amid worries of a "humanitarian catastrophe" from an expected invasion by Turkey.

Earlier on Wednesday, warning of a "humanitarian catastrophe", Rojavan forces issued a general mobilisation call ahead of Turkey's attack.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

A Turkish miltary convoy is pictured in Kilis near the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey, Oct. 9, 2019.

"Presidents do a lot of things, but the most consequential are decisions of war and peace like this, and you can't make decisions on a haphazard basis after a single call with a foreign leader", McGurk said.

Turkey wants to create what it calls a "safe zone" in a stretch of territory along its southern border with Syria that is now controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG.

"Turkey has an obligation under worldwide humanitarian law to take all possible measures to protect civilians and to ensure they have access to humanitarian aid", Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said in a statement.

"From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars - especially those that don't benefit the United States". The Kurds played a leading role in capturing territory from Islamic State, and now hold the largest swathe of Syria outside of the hands of President Bashar al-Assad.

President Trump has long criticized President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but the subsequent rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State has convinced many national security officials, and lawmakers such as Graham, that a precipitous USA troop withdrawal from the region would leave the US and its allies even more vulnerable to extremism.

A Turkish security source told Reuters the military offensive opened with air strikes.

The talks made no progress, but such negotiations could be an option again in the event of a wider USA withdrawal.

Meanwhile, in parts of the United States government, anger continued to fester against Turkey for the planned attack after the extensive preparations made to set up a security mechanism to placate Ankara's suspicion of Kurdish units.

In his statement Wednesday, Trump said Turkey is now "responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form". Ankara distrusts Kurdish forces due to their ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and which Ankara considers a terrorist movement.

The White House announced Sunday that it was withdrawing U.S. troops from the area that Turkey planned to invade, igniting a firestorm of criticism.

Kurdish-led forces denounced the U.S. policy shift as a "stab in the back".

"Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a long-standing threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs", he wrote.

Mr Trump denied cutting the Kurdish forces adrift and threatened to "totally destroy" Turkey's economy if it acted "off limits" in Syria. Kurdish authorities run more than two dozen detention facilities, scattered around northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 IS fighters.

Institute for the Study of War Research Assistant John Dunford says Turkey has been preparing for such an offensive for two years.

On Saturday, Erdogan announced that the country had "completed our preparations and action plan" and was ready to launch a "ground and air operation" east of the Euphrates river, with the goal of establishing "peace" by clearing the region of "terrorists".

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