Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced yesterday the start of a new military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) backed by Western countries, which Ankara considers "terrorist".
In detail, Erdogan said in a tweet on Twitter that «the Turkish armed forces and the Syrian National Army (Syrian fighters supported by Ankara) has launched the operation of the spring of peace in northern Syria». He explained that this operation targets "terrorists of the YPG and ISIS" and aims to establish a "safe area" in northeastern Syria.
"The safe area we will establish will allow the refugees to return to their country," he said.
Erdogan called the operation the spring of peace. "Our mission is to prevent a terrorist corridor across our southern border and to bring peace to the region," he said.
He added: «We will maintain the integrity of Syrian territory and free local areas from terrorists».
The TRT television channel said the army had targeted five positions in Ras al-Tin in northeastern Syria, near the border with Turkey.
The channel also showed footage of Turkish F-16 fighters taking off from a military base in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, which it said was on its way to join an air campaign.
The channel reported that artillery units were bombing Syrian Kurdish militia positions in the strategic city of Tal Abyad in northern Syria.
The channel added that Turkish units stationed in Aga Castle in the province of ليanlıurfa, about six kilometers from Tall Abyad, launched attacks targeting ammunition depots in Tall Abyad, and showed footage of smoke rising from the area.
Tall Abyad is located in the Syrian province of Raqqa, where Kurdish fighters expelled ISIS militants in June 2018.
Turkey said it had informed the United States, Russia and its European allies about its military operation. The Defense Ministry said Germany, Britain, France and Italy, as well as NATO and the United Nations, had been briefed on the operation.
US President Donald Trump said the United States did not support Turkey's attack, and he made clear to Ankara that it was a "bad idea."
For his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mas said that his country strongly condemns the Turkish attack on northern Syria, pointing out that this aggression leads to further turmoil in the region and reinforces the role of ISIS terrorist in the region.
Minutes after the start of the Turkish military operation, France's Secretary of State for European Affairs, Emily de Monchalan, said France "strongly condemned" the Turkish attack and requested a meeting of the UN Security Council.
The United Nations has demanded that Turkey respect Syria's sovereignty and stop its offensive against Kurds there.
In Cairo, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement said that "Egypt condemns in the strongest terms the Turkish aggression on Syrian territory," adding that the operation "represents a blatant and unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of a brotherly Arab state."
Egypt called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council to discuss these developments and ways to preserve Syria's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to Ankara, David Satterfield, shortly after Erdogan announced the start of the military operation, CNN Turk reported.
The United States withdrew its troops days before the border with Turkey in northern Syria, in a sudden shift in US policy, hours after President Donald Trump gave his Turkish counterpart the green light to launch an attack he has long waved against Kurdish fighters.
The White House announced earlier that US forces will not participate in the Turkish operation in northern Syria, and then returned to announce that US forces will step aside and pave the way for the Turkish attack.
"US forces will not support or participate in the operation, nor will they be in the region," White House press secretary Stephanie Gresham said. Gresham did not address the fate of the Kurds, but that actually means the Trump administration abandoning the Kurdish fighters, who fought alongside US forces in the years-long battle against ISIS.
There are about 1,000 US troops in northern Syria, at a time when a senior US official said they would withdraw from the region, and may leave the entire country in the event of large-scale fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
The US decision came shortly after a phone call between the US and Turkish presidents.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kurds were "deeply concerned" after the US announcement of the troop withdrawal and feared it would "ignite the whole region."
Thousands of civilians fled from Syrian towns bordering Turkey from their homes as the Turkish military operation began in the north and northeast of the country yesterday.
Eyewitnesses and residents confirmed that citizens fled the Syrian town of Tal Abyad on the sound of explosions and smoke, which rose near the border with Turkey, due to heavy artillery and aerial bombardment.
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said that areas stretching from Ras al-Ain to Tall Abyad were subjected to indiscriminate shelling by Turkish artillery and warplanes.
He added that Turkish warplanes began targeting "civilian areas" in northern Syria, pointing out that the raids caused "great panic among the population of the region."
According to a Turkish security source, the military operation in Syria began with air strikes, and will be supported by artillery fire and howitzers.
The source was speaking after explosions rocked the northeastern town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey.
Earlier, the Kurdish self-administration, announced yesterday, «public alarm» for three days, in areas of control in the north and northeast of Syria, in anticipation of the Turkish attack.
The self-administration said in a statement: `` We declare a state of public alarm for three days at the level of northern and eastern Syria, and we call on all our departments, institutions and people with all its components to go to the border region adjacent to Turkey to do their moral duty, and to show resistance in these sensitive historical moments. ''