Erdogan: Turkish offensive into Syria has started

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"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area", he said, referring to plans to create a Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria.

Separately, the group claimed Tuesday that the Turkish military shelled one of its points in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey in an "unprovoked attack".

Since then, about 1,000 U.S. troops have begun to move out of northeast Syria, leaving their allies, the Kurdish-led Syrian Defence Force (SDF) - seen as enemies of Turkey for the past 35 years.

The U.S. military established a combined joint operations center in Ankara several weeks ago to coordinate with Turkish forces on patrols in a "security mechanism" buffer zone in Syria along the border with Turkey.

"It was shocking to see Mr. Trump seemingly abandon the Kurds without recalling the sacrifice they made to rid Syria of Islamic State militants, known in Arabic as Daesh, particularly as Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan permitted foreign jihadists to cross into Syria in the first place", al Sharif added. Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the group, said six civilians have been killed so far by Turkey's attacks.

Turkey has rid an area of 1,544 square miles (4,000 square kilometers) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations.

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Turkey said on Tuesday that it would begin its long-threatened offensive "soon", after Trump gave what was widely seen as a green light at the weekend, ordering the pullback of U.S. troops who had previously served as a buffer.

Experts who spoke to Al-Monitor said the incursion would likely be limited and face stiff resistance from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have received backing from the Pentagon.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hopes that when faced with the threat from Turkey, the PYD will throw their lot in with him in order to avoid total defeat.

The White House released a statement from President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon, condemning Turkey's airstrikes in Syria as they commence their military incursion into the region.

Amid concerns that Trump had given Erdogan a green light to attack the Kurds in Syria, the president returned to Twitter later on Monday to declare that "if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey". In his statement, Trump emphasized that there are no American soldiers in the area under attack.

"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back".

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The Kurds have always been considered as among Washington's most reliable partners in Syria and in the broader campaign against ISIS in the region. "Leaving them to die is a big mistake", said Nikki Haley, Trump's former United Nations ambassador.

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US has not "abandoned" its Kurdish allies inside Syria, continuing to give a mixed message to Turkey.

Trump's words are at odds with longstanding USA policy of keeping thousands of American troops in the strategically important region, and his decision is being condemned by some of his staunchest Republican allies.

Along with Democrats calling for Trump to change course, Republicans have been increasingly vocal in criticizing Trump on the issue. The US will ask the SDF to continue to keep watch over ISIS detainees and to keep ISIS sleeper cells suppressed and keep the Syrian regime or other forces from entering.

Why is there conflict between Turkey and the Kurds? The US also severely limited Turkey's access to airspace over north-east Syria yesterday, crippling its capability to provide aerial cover throughout the operation.

Turkish armored vehicles cross over into northern Syria as part of the attack.

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