Turkey launches military operation in northern Syria

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Unwilling to let go of an area they wrested from the Islamic State group, the battle-hardened Kurdish fighters - trained and equipped by the US - have vowed to fight the Turks until the end. "US should never have been in Middle East", Mr Trump said in a series of morning tweets. Hours after, Trump announced his decision to withdraw its troops from the country. He said the USA went to war under a "false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION".

What does the PYD want in northern Syria?

What about the fight against the Islamic State group?

Civilians ride a pickup truck as smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.

De Montchalin said France, Germany and Britain were working on a joint declaration "which will be extremely clear on the fact that we very strongly condemn" the Turkish campaign against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.

This comes days after the U.S. troops backed away from the border area. American troops must leave the region.

The move was announced by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh [ISIS] terrorists in northern Syria".

Trump's recent decision to pull back USA troops leaves those fighters vulnerable. The AP could not verify the report independently.

The Turkish operation meant to create a so-called "safe zone" carries potential gains and risk for Turkey by getting even more deeply involved in the Syria war.

The Turkish operation would ignite new fighting in Syria's eight-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

"People fled and left everything behind", he said in a text message after he reached safety. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is considered a terrorist group by the U.S.

On Monday, Trump warned in a tweetthat if Turkey - a longtime American ally with NATO's second-largest standing army - did anything that he considered to be "off limits", he would "totally destroy and obliterate" its economy.

A Turkish miltary convoy is pictured in Kilis near the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey, Oct. 9, 2019.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close President Trump ally, stepped up his criticism of the president Wednesday, telling "Fox & Friends" that if President Trump "follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency".

The talks made no progress, but such negotiations could be an option again in the event of a wider USA withdrawal.

"We have conveyed those concerns and will continue to convey those concerns directly and we will continue to work closely with the United States and others in terms of what, if any, potential response is to that quite serious situation on the ground". He said he expected Turkey to protect civilians and religious minorities and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the offensive, saying it will "further destabilize the region and strengthen IS".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called on Turkey to halt its military actions and warned the EU would not help pay to set up any safe zone in north-eastern Syria.

The Turkish presidency's communications director urged the global community to rally behind Ankara.

Turkey had been poised to enter northeast Syria since the U.S. troops who had been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against ISIS started to leave in what Trump critics called a betrayal of Washington's allies.

The Syrian Kurdish group urged Moscow to broker talks with the Syrian government in Damascus in light of the Turkish operation.

The Kurdish-led administration that governs the area issued a call for "general mobilization" to fight the Turks.

Syria's Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey's military strike, calling it a "blatant violation" of worldwide law and vowing to repel the incursion.

"They are extremely alarmed that such a lightweight treatment of this extremely delicate subject could ignite the entire region", Lavrov said.

Earlier Wednesday, IS militants targeted a post of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which was once the de facto IS capital at the height of the militants' power in the region. Kurdish authorities run more than two dozen detention facilities, scattered around northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 IS fighters.

In March, they declared the territorial defeat of IS after overrunning the jihadists' last redoubt in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.

El Deeb reported from Beirut.

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