Turkey Launches Military Invasion into Northeastern Syria
By Staff, Agencies
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s military forces and the Turkish-backed militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army FSA launched a long-threatened offensive in northeastern Syria against Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units [YPG] to push them away from border areas.
“Operation Peace Spring will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. We will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists,” Erdogan wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Syria's state-run television reported that the Turkish army launched an operation in the country's north by carrying out an airstrike on the city of Ras al-Ayn in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah.
The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF], an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants where YPG forms the backbone, stated that Turkish warplanes are pounding the area, causing “huge panic among people.”
Ankara views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
Two fighter jets took off from Diyarbakir air base in southeastern Turkey as Ankara launched the military operation into northeastern Syria, AFP news agency reported.
According to Turkish-language CNN Turk television news network, several large explosions rocked Ras al-Ayn, and the sound of planes could be heard flying overhead.
The report added that smoke could be seen rising from buildings in the city.
CNN Turk also reported that Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had called on US Ambassador to Ankara David M. Satterfield to brief him on the country’s military offensive into northeastern Syria.
Earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish planned military offensive on Kurdish positions in northeastern Syria, stressing the Damascus government's determination to confront the “Turkish aggression by all means.”
The ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday that the Syrian government condemns the “aggressive intentions of the Turkish regime” as well as the Turkish military build-up near the Syrian border, which it said constitutes a “blatant violation to the international law.”
This “aggressive behavior” exposes the “expansive ambitions” of Turkey in Syria, noting that the anticipated Turkish offensive cannot be justified under any pretext, the statement read.
The ministry also blamed Kurdish-led SDF militants for the current situation in northeastern Syria, saying they had been warned not to bet on the US support to them and not to be a tool that serves the US
The ministry underlined that the Syrian government is determined to confront the Turkish aggression by all means, stressing that the door is left ajar for Kurdish forces who want to “return to their senses” and reach deals with the Syrian government.