Turkey launches attack on Syria after US announces withdrawal of troops
Oct. 10, 2019
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said they did not give Turkey a 'green light' for the offensive
Turkey has launched an attack on northern Syria after US president Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing US troops from the border area.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said they had not given Turkey a green light to begin the offensive, after the withdrawal of US troops caused concern internationally.
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the aim had been to prevent the creation of a terror corridor on the border.
Mr Erdogan tweeted: "The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationsPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.
"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area."
Troops from Turkey are hoping to establish a safe zone free of Kurdish militias, which could house Syrian refugees.
But there are fears the operation could lead to the removal - or ethnic cleansing - of the Kurdish population and a resurgence of the Islamic State militant group.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey should not "further destabilise the region" with its military action in Syria.
He added that Turkey has legitimate security concerns after suffering horrendous terrorist attacks and hosting thousands of refugees.
Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, condemned the offensive and said it would strengthen the so-called Islamic State.
The Kurds, who helped defeat IS in Syria and were key US allies, guard thousands of IS fighters and their relatives in prisons and camps.
They fought for almost five years alongside the US, and lost thousands of troops.
US president Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and enable the Turkish offensive by saying the Kurds "didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy as an example."
He added: "They mention the names of different battles, they weren't there."
He said the US had spent "a tremendous amount of money" helping the Kurds.
In an interview with the PBS network in the US, Mr Pompeo defended the president, adding that Turkey had a legitimate "security concern" and "a terrorist threat" to their south.
Towns and villages were hit by air strikes and artillery fire on Wednesday, forcing people to flee their homes.
According to Kurdish forces, at least seven people - including two children - have been killed with 19 people critically injured.
The UN Security Council will meet later today and the Arab League will hold a meeting in Cairo on Saturday.
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