Turkish ground forces pressed their advance in opposition to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Thursday, Turkey’s Defence Ministry mentioned, launching airstrikes and unleashing artillery shelling on Syrian cities and villages the size of its border.

The Turkish invasion, now in its second day, has been broadly condemned around the globe. In northern Syria, residents of the border areas scrambled in panic on Wednesday as they tried to get out on foot, in vehicles and with rickshaws piled with mattresses and some belongings.

It was a wrenchingly acquainted state of affairs for the numerous who, only some years in the past, had fled the advances on their cities and villages by ISIS.

A Kurdish-led group and Syrian activists claimed Thursday that regardless of the heavy barrage, Turkish troops had not made a lot progress on a number of fronts that they had opened over the previous hours. But their claims couldn’t be independently verified and the state of affairs on the ground was tough to evaluate.

Turkey started its offensive in northern Syria on Wednesday in opposition to Kurdish fighters with airstrikes and artillery shelling, earlier than ground troops started crossing the border later in the day. U.S. troops pulled again from the world, paving the best way for Turkey’s assault on Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey has lengthy threatened to assault the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. Expectations of an invasion elevated after U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt choice Sunday to primarily abandon the Syrian Kurdish fighters, leaving them susceptible to a Turkish offensive.

The Kurds, who’ve been America’s solely allies in Syria combating the Islamic State group, stopped on Thursday all their operations in opposition to ISIS extremists in order to deal with combating advancing Turkish troops, Kurdish and U.S. officers mentioned.

The Turkish Defence Ministry assertion Thursday didn’t present additional particulars on the offensive however shared a short video of commandos in motion. The ministry mentioned Turkish jets and artillery had struck 181 targets east of the Euphrates River in Syria for the reason that incursion began.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, mentioned their fighters have repelled Turkish forces ground assaults.

“No advance as of now,” he tweeted Thursday.

Turkey says it desires to create ‘protected zone’ close to border

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor that has activists all through the nation, mentioned Turkish troops tried to push forward on a number of fronts underneath the quilt of airstrikes and artillery shelling however made no tangible progress. The Observatory mentioned that since Turkey started its operation, seven civilians have been killed.

Turkey says it intends to create a “safe zone” that may push the Kurdish militia away from its border and ultimately enable the repatriation of as much as two million Syrian refugees in the world.

Trump’s choice to have American troops step apart in northeastern Syria was a significant shift in U.S. coverage and drew opposition from all sides at dwelling. It additionally marked a stark change in rhetoric by Trump, who throughout a press convention in New York final 12 months vowed to face by the Kurds, who’ve been America’s solely allies in Syria combating ISIS.

Trump mentioned on the time that the Kurds “fought with us” and “died with us,” and insisted that America would always remember.

After Erdogan introduced the offensive, Trump known as the operation “a bad idea.” Later Wednesday, he mentioned he did not need to be concerned in “endless, senseless wars.”

Shortly after the Turkish operation inside Syria had began, a convoy of Turkish forces automobiles drove by means of the Turkish border city of Akcakale. (Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press)

Turkey’s marketing campaign — in which a NATO member rained down bombs on an space the place a whole bunch of U.S. troops had been stationed — drew quick criticism and requires restraint from Europe.

Australia on Thursday expressed considerations the Turkish incursion might impress a resurgence of ISIS and refused to endorse the shut ally U.S. for pulling again its troops from the world. Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentioned he had been in contact with the Turkish and U.S. governments in a single day and admitted to worrying concerning the state of affairs.

In Washington, officers mentioned Wednesday that two British militants believed to be a part of an Islamic State cell that beheaded hostages had been moved out of a detention centre in Syria and had been in U.S. custody.

The two, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, together with different British jihadis allegedly made up the ISIS cell nicknamed “The Beatles” by surviving captives due to their English accents. In 2014 and 2015, the militants held greater than 20 Western hostages in Syria and tortured lots of them.

The group beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and support employees and a gaggle of Syrian troopers, boasting of the butchery in movies launched to the world.

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