Turkey has launched a military operation in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other senior officials have said, as Kurdish fighters reported that warplanes were attacking the region.
Several large explosions rocked the north-east Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, on the border across from the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar, a CNN Turk reporter said, adding that the sound of planes could be heard above.
He said smoke could be seen rising from buildings in Ras al-Ain.
Kurdish military leaders inside Syria have been braced for an attack since Donald Trump announced earlier this week that US troops were withdrawing from the area.
Erdoğan said the offensive, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, would aim to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and Islamic State militants, and enable the return of Syrian refugees in Turkey after the formation of a “safe zone” in the area, he said.
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said on Twitter. “We will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish government said the US president had handed it the leadership of the military campaign against Islamic State, and warned its forces would be crossing into Syria “shortly”.
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