The Turkish operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria has begun, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
“The Turkish armed forces and Syrian National Army [rebel groups backed by Ankara] have began Operation Peace Spring in the north of Syria,” he wrote on Twitter.
He said the offensive targeted Kurdish militants and ISIS in northern Syria.
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he wrote.
A Turkish security official said that the operation launched with air strikes and will be supported by artillery fire.
“Turkish warplanes have started to carry out air strikes on civilian areas,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.
Syrian state media and a Kurdish official separately said bombing hit the town of Ras al-Ain in the northeast along the Turkish border.
The US ambassador to Ankara has been summoned to the foreign ministry to be briefed on the Turkish operation , CNN Turk reported.
Turkey has long been planning military action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria due to their ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
The Turkish operation comes after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US forces from northeastern Syria, which is currently administered by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), often referred to as Rojava.
The NES’ armed wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has accused Turkey of seeking to “take over new lands for ISIS.”
President Trump threatened on on Monday threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy if Turkey took any action he considered “off-limits.”