Turkey launches military operation in Syria
Turkey has launched its military operation into northeastern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. The announcement came after his phone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army [rebel groups backed by Turkey], just launched the Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish militias and the ISIS group (banned in Russia) in northern Syria," the Turkish leader wrote on Twitter.
Erdogan said the offensive would aim to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and the ISIS militants, and enable the return of Syrian refugees in Turkey after the formation of a “safe zone” in the area.
"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area," he added. "We will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists."
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart by phone to avoid any steps in Syria that could damage its peace process, the Kremlin press service said, adding that both leaders agreed in the phone call that Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.
According to CNN, several large explosions rocked the northeast Syrian town of Ras al Ain, on the border across from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar.