Turkey Begins an Offensive Against Kurdish Fighters in Syria

Protesters gathered outside Sydney's Town Hall

Erdogan's administration has announced it plans to establish a "safe zone" in northeastern Syria to resettle around 2 million Syrian refugees there, alarming Western allies.

Turkey has been preparing for an attack on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

Tamara Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy, also pointed out a frightening potential knock-on effect if Turkey is allowed to attack the Kurds: a mass prison break by ISIL detainees.

The YPG has been a key ally for the United States in fighting the Islamic State group, but the White House this week announced it was withdrawing special forces from the area that had been effectively preventing a Turkish offensive.

Ankara has said it intends to secure a stretch of territory along its southern border with Syria that runs more than 480 kilometers (300 miles) long toward the Iraqi border and is 30 kilometers deep.

But on Wednesday Mr Trump said the USA did not endorse Turkey's assault on northern Syria and had made it clear to Ankara that its incursion against Kurdish fighters who helped the U.S. battle the Islamic State (IS) group was a "bad idea".

"The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea", Trump said.

U.S. officials meanwhile reportedly said they had no plans to take control of prisons holding Islamic State (Isil) suspects if their Kurdish guards withdrew, further raising fears that jihadists could escape amid the offensive.

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

Trump says U.S. troops completed their mission in Syria of fighting the Islamic State movement.

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In Ras al-Ain, Kurdish-led security forces set up new checkpoints and stockpiled tyres to set alight to blur the vision of Turkish military pilots, an AFP correspondent reported.

Turkey is likely to pound the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with artillery fire and airstrikes before beginning a ground incursion.

In the second operation previous year, Turkey captured the Syrian-Kurdish controlled enclave of Afrin.

Turkish warplanes on Wednesday bombed parts of north-eastern Syria as part of the country's military offensive.

Trump has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum for "abandoning the Kurds", who say they lost some 11,000 fighters in battles against IS.

He added that Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, had launched what they called "Operation Peace Spring" against Kurdish fighters to eradicate what Mr Erdogan called "the threat of terror" against Turkey.

Following these announcements, air traffic increased at the eighth Main Jet military base in Turkey's southeastern Diyarbakir province.

On October 6, Erdogan spoke with Trump on phone, discussing the safe zone in Syria and concerns regarding YPG presence in Turkey's border. An activist collective known as Raqqa is being Silently Slaughtered reported an exchange of fire and an explosion.

IS claimed responsibility, saying one of its members killed or wounded 13 SDF members.

Critics of Mr. Trump's decision fear a Turkish operation could have destabilizing consequences for the region, while both Democrats and Republicans have warned that a Turkish attack could lead to a large number of fatalities among the Kurds, who are holding thousands of captured IS fighters and their families. Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Mehmet Guzel in Akcakale, Turkey; Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow; and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.

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