Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the United Nations General Assembly – Bryan Smith / ZUMA Wire / dpa
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced on Wednesday the start of the military operation in northeastern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish militias and the Islamic State, while ensuring that the integrity of the neighboring country will be preserved.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, have just launched the 'Operation Peace Spring' against the Syrian Kurdish militias YPG, which Ankara considers a PKK subsidiary, and against Islamic State in northern Syria , has reported on his Twitter.
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terrorist corridor on our southern border and bring peace to the area,” said the Turkish president.
The operation, he added, “will neutralize terrorist threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, which will facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.”
On the other hand, Erdogan has assured that Turkey “will preserve Syria's territorial integrity and free local communities from terrorists.”
Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS) of which YPGs are the main component, has confirmed the start of the bombing. “Turkish fighter planes have begun to carry out bombings on civilian areas,” he denounced on his Twitter. “There is a great panic among the population of the region.”
For its part, the Syrian state news agency, SANA, has reported Turkish aerial bombing in Ras al Ain, in Hasaka province.
A Turkish security source has told Reuters that the operation has begun with aerial bombardment and will be supported by artillery and howitzer shots. In this sense, another source has specified that the firing of howitzer has already begun against bases and ammunition deposits of the YPG as well as against armed positions away from residential areas.