The Turkish military has fully engaged in the invasion of Northern Syria.
Preparations for the offensive began in early October, starting with the withdrawal of American forces from positions near the Turkish border, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a phone call with United States President Donald Trump about plans for a military operation against SDF-held areas east of the Euphrates river.
Syria’s Kurdish militant YPG group, is the target in this invasion. The Syrian Democratic Forces is militarily led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia.
Turkey sees the YPG as a threat due to its link to the separatist PKK, another Kurdish group the Turkish government been battling for decades. It’s considered a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and the European Union.
While the United States government has stated it does not support the Turkish-led offensive, the White House also announced on the 6th of October 2019 that it would not interfere.
The operation began as we reported yesterday, with Turkish airstrikes and howitzers targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces held towns of Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn where thousands of people were reported to have fled the town, Ain Issa and Qamishli.
The date is reportedly the anniversary of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s expulsion from Syria in 1998, by the government of Hafez al-Assad.
In response to the cross-border shelling, SDF’s spokesman claimed that Turkey was targeting civilians. Six rockets were later launched at the Turkish city of Nusaybin as a response by the PKK, and two reportedly hit the Turkish town Ceylanpınar. According to local media, the SDF also announced in response to the start of the Turkish operation they would be halting anti-Islamic State operations, and that two civilians had been killed.
By the end of the day, the Turkish military announced that the ground phase of the operation had begun from three points – including Tell Abyad.
Before dawn this morning and after limited incursions yesterday, the Turkish military officially began the main ground offensive against SDF; they also announced that they had hit 181 targets in northern Syria, and 14,000 rebels backed by Turkey are also reportedly taking part in the Turkish-led offensive.