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A Turkish military convoy in Kilis near the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey, October 9, 2019. Mehmet Ali Dag / Ihlas News Agency (IHA) via REUTERS

Turkey has kept its promise despite the flood of international protests over the past two days. The Turkish army on Wednesday (October 9th) launched its military operation in northeastern Syria. President Erdogan himself announced the start of the offensive.

" The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army [Syrian rebels supported by Ankara] have started Operation " Source of Peace " in northern Syria, " Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Twitter.

According to him, this operation aims at " the terrorists of the YPG and Daesh [Arabic acronym of the Islamic State group]". And aims to set up a " security zone " in northeastern Syria.

" The security zone we are going to create will allow the return of Syrian refugees to their country, " he added.

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 to our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 9, 2019

Strong explosion and "air raids"

A strong explosion was heard on Wednesday in the Ras Al-Ain region, located in northern Syria on the border with Turkey, an AFP correspondent reported shortly after the Turkish president's announcement.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), reports " air raids " but also artillery fire that targeted the city of Ras al-Ain and its surroundings.

Reporting on the flight of dozens of civilians, the AFP correspondent was able to see columns of smoke rising close to the border as planes flew over the area. " Turkish warplanes have started conducting air strikes on civilian areas, there is a strong panic among people, " said a spokesman for Kurdish forces Mustafa Bali.

Russian warning

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart before launching the offensive. " Putin has called on his Turkish partners to think carefully about the situation in order to avoid undermining the joint efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis ," the statement said after a telephone interview between the two presidents.

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker demands the end of the offensive and threatens to cut off his funding.

This offensive, which Turkey has been threatening for several months to launch, is Ankara's third in Syria since 2016.

US President Donald Trump appeared to give the green light on Sunday for such an operation before going back on his remarks and assuring that the United States had " not abandoned the Kurds ", who played a crucial role in the defeat military of the IS.

If Westerners praise the YPG's role in the battle against ISIS, Ankara views these Kurdish fighters as a "terrorist" group and a threat to its security because of its links with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which a guerrilla on Turkish soil.

(with AFP)