Turkey on Wednesday launched its planned military offensive into Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. The United States had on Monday announced that Turkey was planning the attack in northwestern Syria against the Kurds.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against [Kurdish groups] PKK/YPG and Daesh [Islamic State] terrorists in northern Syria,” Erdogan tweeted. “Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.”
Erdogan added that Turkey “will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists.” He said the Turkish offensive will establish a safe zone, which will allow the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.
However, Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, claimed that Turkish warplanes had begun carrying out attacks in Syria’s civilian areas, CNN reported. “There is huge panic among people in the region,” Bali said.
Ankara regards the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as a terrorist group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and has been battling the groups for two decades. However, the PKK and YPG are allies of the United States.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency said a source in the country’s foreign ministry condemned the Turkish invasion. “The hostile behaviour of Erdogan’s regime appears clearly through the Turkish expansionist ambitions in the Syrian territories, and it couldn’t be justified under any pretext,” the source told the agency.
Meanwhile, United Nations Security Council President Jerry Matthews Matjila appealed to Turkey to exercise “maximum restraint” and to “protect civilians” during its military operations in Syria, AFP reported.
Matjila also expressed hope that the Security Council would meet soon to discuss the situation in Syria. Belgium, Germany and Kuwait are the council members designated to follow the humanitarian situation in Syria.
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