Turkey intensified artillery and aerial strikes against Syrian border’ towns and villages, shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the official launch of a cross-border operation aimed at establishing a long-aspired safe zone.
In a televised phone conversation with his nation’s Defense Minister, President Erdogan wished success to the Turkish Armed forces, “our heroes” taking part in the military campaign, dubbed: “Operation Peace Spring.” He then voiced his belief, “together with the Syrian National Army, Turkish Armed Forces will achieve a big success against PKK, YPG and Daesh in northern Syria,” to eradicate Kurdish and Islamic State terrorists that are situated in what he perceives as “the terror corridor” vital for Turkey’s national security.
Shortly thereafter, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that its armed forces and their Syrian paramilitary allies entered northeast Syria last night, to launch the anticipated land offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
In response, the SDF coalition appealed to the United Nations, European Union and all democratic countries to oppose the Turkish incursion, insisting that “Anyone who is not moving against the Turkish attack” will be considered as its supporter. Furthermore, the SDF spokesperson Ahmad Mousa emphasized that while the Kurdish-led force “will not target Turkey,”“if they insist on attacking us and occupying our lands, we will trigger our right to self-defense until the last drop of blood.” Mousa concluded with the statement, “We are ready to face any kind of attack.”
The Ankara-based Anadolu news agency released footage of Turkish armored vehicles crossing the border into northeast Syria late last night, in what was said to be ‘the direction of SDF-held territories.’ The mobilization prompted local Syrian civilians to flee their towns this morning. One such refugee told Reuters that his family fled after two tanks were spotted at the entrance of his village, out of fear his “might get hurt following the shelling.” He added that, “ Most residents of the village left, but some young men stayed.”
Meanwhile in Paris, French Minister for European Affairs announced that her nation, Germany and Britain are finalizing a joint of Turkey’s military offensive in Syria. According to Minister Amelie De Montchalin, the statement “will be extremely clear about the fact that we condemn very strongly and firmly what has been reported,” adding that “We are taking it to the United Nations Security Council and seeking the biggest possible coalition to bring the subject to discussion as quickly as possible.”
Speaking at a press conference in Paris, Minister Amelie De Montchalin further revealed that a separate European declaration is also in the making – although not all of the European Union’s 28 member states are keen on signing the proposed denunciation of the Turkish invasion.
In light of a growing number of condemnations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Ankara will inform all relevant actors, including Damascus, about the progress of the Turkish operation. Speaking alongside his Algerian counterpart Sabri Boukadoum; the Turkish top diplomat insisted that Ankara is within its rights under international law to ensure the security of its southern border. “First of all, this is our right that stems from U.N. agreements, U.N. Security council resolutions and international laws,” said Cavusoglu, stressing that “Within the framework of international laws, both our military and foreign ministry will inform the United Nations and necessary countries, including Syria.”