Published: Fri, October 11, 2019

Turkish army begins invasion of Syria with air strikes - Erdogan defends attacks

Turkish army begins invasion of Syria with air strikes - Erdogan defends attacks

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 24, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signalled that Turkey's operation was approaching in Syria saying that many Syrians from other countries can be settled if the safe zone is expanded and the worldwide community comes forward with financial assistance.

The operation could reshape the map of the Syrian conflict once again, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey's territorial control at the border.

Pentagon officials struggled with explanations, humanitarian workers warned of civilian casualties, and Kurdish commanders said they might be forced to abandon their Syrian prisons holding thousands of captured Islamic State fighters and head for the front lines against Turkey.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

President Tayyip Erdogan has recently talked about pushing even deeper into Syria, beyond the proposed "safe zone" region to the cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, in order to allow still more refugees to return to Syria.

Turkey said on Tuesday that its preparations for the invasion of northern Syria were "complete".

"As threats and mobilization of the Turkish Army and its mercenaries escalate. we call on our go to the area bordering Turkey to carry out their moral duty and show resistance at these sensitive historical moments", an SDF statement said.

The Syrian Kurdish forces were long-time USA allies in the fight against the so-called Islamic State group. "Operation has not been launched yet", the official told Agence France-Presse.

He said many of these fighters are of European origin and that he had given European nations four chances to take responsibility for them. The South Carolina Republican said the decision could give ISIS the opportunity to regroup after Kurdish forces played a decisive role in defeating the terrorist group.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford reports live from Akcaklae, near the Turkish-Syria border.

A U.S. defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and a Kurdish official in Syria said the SDF had suspended operations against IS militants because of the Turkish operation.

"This morning, Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, invaded Syria", the White House said in a statement.

Russian Federation and Iran, the other two major foreign powers in Syria, strongly support President Bashar al-Assad - unlike Turkey and the United States which both called for him to stand down and supported rebels fighting to overthrow him.

"Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years".

Another senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Monday said Turkey "would bear full responsibility" if the Islamic State (IS) reconstitutes in the wake of the crisis, but did not make clear how the United States planned to hold Ankara responsible for maintaining overcrowded detention facilities now under Kurdish control, including Al-Hol.

Trump has threatened to "obliterate" Turkey's economy unless the Turkish military uses restraint but Keane said "I don't know any military incursion that wouldn't do harm".

The US withdrawal from the area will leave Kurdish-led forces long allied to Washington vulnerable to attack by the Turkish Armed Forces.

In the build-up to the expected offensive, Syria had said it was determined to confront any Turkish aggression by all legitimate means.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, front centre, is flanked by Turkish army's top commanders before he speaks at the National Defence University, in Istanbul.

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