On Thursday, Turkey agreed to pause military Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK militants from the planned safe zone. The reprieve will end at 1900 GMT on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at the White House after two days of trade negotiations in Washington, US, October 11, 2019
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at the White House after two days of trade negotiations in Washington, US, October 11, 2019 (AP)

October 21, Monday

'Plenty of Turks' died due to border conflicts - Trump

"Plenty of Turks" have died as a result of conflicts on Turkey's borders, US President Donald Trump said in defence of his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria.

"You have to look at it both ways," Trump told reporters as he convened with top officials at the White House. "We’re having very good news coming out. The ceasefire’s holding."

Trump said he does not think "it's going to be necessary" to leave a residual force in northeast Syria, saying "I don't want to leave any troops there." But he acknowledged that Jordan and Israel have requested some US troops remain in a part of the country near the countries.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House at a meeting of his Cabinet also said that the United States never gave a commitment to the YPG/PKK to stay in the region to protect them for the rest of their lives.

Turkish, Russian presidents to discuss Syria in Moscow meeting

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a one-day working visit to Russia's coastal city of Sochi to discuss Syria with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Amid the operation, Ankara is also keeping its high-level contacts with Russia and Iran which are trying to find a solution to the Syrian conflict.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran are guarantor countries which brokered a ceasefire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana talks, which are running parallel to the UN-led Geneva talks.

Keeping some troops in north Syria under discussion - Esper

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that keeping some troops in parts of northeastern Syria near oilfields with YPG-led to ensure that the oil did not fall into the hand of Daesh or others was one of the options that was being discussed.

Speaking with reporters during a trip to Afghanistan, Esper said that, while the withdrawal from northeastern Syria was underway, some troops were still with the YPG/PKK near oilfields and there had been discussions about keeping some of them there.

"I've made no decision with regard to various options. Those are things that we would have to present to the president in due course," Esper said.

US troops cross into Iraq from Syria

US troops have crossed into Iraq from Syria through the Sahela border crossing in the northern province of Duhuk, witnesses told Reuters on Monday.

Video images showed armoured vehicles carrying troops into Iraq, part of the US withdrawal from Syria. Witnesses said that they saw more than 100 vehicles crossing.

About 30 trailers and Hummers carrying heavier duty equipment crossed, with troops in cars coming through, the source added. A second security source in Mosul also said US troops had crossed into Iraq from Sahela.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria are expected to move to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Daesh and "to help defend Iraq".

October 20, Sunday

YPG/PKK terrorists flee Syria’s Ras al Ayn city with cars

Turkey is allowing YPG/PKK terrorists cornered in Syria’s Ras al Ayn city to leave the area with Red Cross ambulances and civilian vehicles, Anadolu Agency reporters said.

In line with Turkey’s agreement with the US on October 17, terrorists used the route opened by Turkish troops and left the city for Qamishli district of Hasakah city.

While the clock is ticking for Turkey’s pause on its counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria, it is estimated that a total of 1,000 YPG/PKK terrorists are positioned in the area.

Erdogan says 762 YPG/PKK terrorists killed or injured

President Erdogan said that a total of 765 YPG/PKK terrorists, including seniors, were killed and injured as part of the country’s counter-terrorism campaign in northern Syria, adding 1,500 square-kilometres of the territory was rescued from the terror group.

Erdogan went on to say that Turkey made the agreement with the US, not YPG/PKK terrorists, and some parties sought to distort this fact.

Stressing that Turkey would enjoy YPG/PKK’s withdrawal from the safe-zone territory, Erdogan said Ankara would take the safe-zone area under protection, adding “We studied well, all projects are ready.”

Turkey condemns Amnesty’s claims 

Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Amnesty International's report on Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria.

"We totally reject the unfounded allegations in Amnesty International’s report on Operation Peace Spring," the ministry said in a written statement.

The ministry said that it considers these "baseless allegations" as part of an ongoing "smear campaign" against Turkey's efforts in countering the terror threat stemming from Syria and aiming at Turkey’s national security.

Previously, Amnesty International in its report on October 13 said that YPG forces in northern Syria had committed war crimes during its battles with Daesh. The human rights body said that thousands of people had been deliberately forced to leave their homes and entire villages were razed to the ground by YPG terrorists.

The ministry stressed that all necessary measures are taken in order to avoid harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.

PKK/YPG terrorists violate safe zone deal 22 times

The PKK/YPG terrorists have violated the safe zone deal with the US 22 times since it came into effect on October 17, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry on Sunday.

The ministry also said a Turkish soldier was killed and another one injured during a patrol when PKK/YPG terrorists attacked them in Syria's Tal-Abyad region east of Euphrates River. 

Security forces retaliated against the terrorist attack within the exercise of their right to self-defence, the ministry said in a statement.

October 19, Saturday

Syria operation to resume if terrorists do not withdraw - Erdogan

Turkey’s 120-hour pause on counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria would be over and the Turkish army would restart targeting terror elements if the agreement with the US is not implemented, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

President Erdogan added Turkey’s stance in the establishment of a safe-zone in northern Syria has always been same and it has not changed.

YPG/PKK terrorists violate Syria deal - Turkish Defence Ministry

YPG/PKK terrorists carried out 14 attacks in last 36 hours, while Turkish Armed Forces have fully complied with the deal on establishment of the safe zone, said the Turkish National Defence Ministry on Twitter on Saturday.

In the last 36 hours, a total of 14 attacks were carried out by PKK/YPG terrorists, 12 of them in Ras al Ayn, one in Tal Abyad and one in Tall Tamr, the ministry said.

October 18, Friday

Turkish, US leaders discuss planned safe zone in Syria

President Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump spoke over the phone on Friday and discussed the safe zone to be established east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

“I hope Turkey-US joint efforts will continue for peace, prosperity and stability of our region,” Erdogan said in a Twitter post.

During their conversation, Erdogan said he shared his pleasure over mutual steps the two countries took to strengthen bilateral relations.

Turkey to continue Syria operation if US does not keep promises – Erdogan

President Erdogan said on Friday if the US does not keep its promises after 120 hours, Turkey will resolutely continue its operation in northern Syria.

The safe zone issue will be solved if the US keeps its promises until the end of the 120-hour period on Tuesday night, Erdogan told reporters at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.

Turkish security forces will not withdraw from northern Syria, he stressed.

Clash in safe zone out of question, Erdogan says

Clash in safe zone between Turkish forces and YPG/PKK terrorists is out of the question, Turkey's president said.

Turkish security forces will not withdraw from northern Syria as part of deal with the US, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

"Within the 120-hour process, the YPG/PKK terrorist organisation will withdraw from the region that we have designated as a safe zone," Erdogan stressed.

Clashes reported after Turkey suspends its operation 

Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups have been reported in a Syrian border town on Friday, a monitor said, despite a Turkey-US agreement on a five-day truce. 

"There are sporadic artillery strikes and you can hear shooting in the town of Ras al Ayn," said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ras al Ayn has been a major goal of the Turkish operation since its launch on October 9.

Turkish troops and Syrian National Army gained ground in Ras al Ayn, Rahman said on Thursday.

October 17, Thursday

Turkey and the US agree to 'pause' northern Syria anti-terror operation

The pause of Turkey's anti-terror operation in Syria is not a ceasefire, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday. A ceasefire can only happen between the two legitimate sides, he added.

"Turkey will end the operation in northern Syria only after YPG/PKK terrorists leave [safe zone]," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference.

"We [Turkey and the US] agreed on collecting heavy weapons of YPG, destructing their positions and fortifications," Cavusoglu added.

Cavusoglu's comments follow an agreement between the US and Turkey to pause fighting in northern Syria for 120 hours. 

"Turkey's military operation will pause for 120 hours," US Vice President Mike Pence told a news conference at the US Embassy to Turkey in Ankara.

Pence went on to say that the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the safe zone has already begun which led to pausing Turkey's military operation.

Turkey will get 32 kilometres of safe zone, Pence added.

Cavusoglu confirmed the length of the safe zone, adding that "Turkey and US agreed that Turkey will control the safe zone in northeast Syria."

Nearly 600 terrorists flee YPG/PKK in northern Syria

Nearly 600 terrorists who were forcefully recruited in the cities of Raqqa and al Tabqah have fled the YPG terror group, security sources said, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

More than 40 terrorists also surrendered to Turkish Armed Forces, the sources added.

Greek anarchists attack Ataturk Museum in Greece

The Turkish foreign ministry has condemned the attack at the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Greece's Thessaloniki city by pro-PKK anarchist groups.

Turkey's deputy foreign minister Hami Aksoy condemned the provocative attack on the museum, saying the place has high spiritual value to every Turkish citizen. 

He said Turkey expects Greece government to take necessary steps against such provocation. 

Earlier, police in northern Greece said they detained at least 12 people who evaded security and staged a protest against Turkey's operation in northern Syria, at the museum.  

The museum grounds are shared by the Turkish consulate. A Greek anarchist group claimed responsibility for the incident and posted a video of the protest online.

Turkish troops gain ground in Ras al Ayn – war monitor

Turkish troops and Syrian National Army gained ground in Ras al Ayn, a key border town where YPG is being fought, a war monitor said.

"There have been intensive air strikes on Ras al Ayn over the past three days," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

Turkish forces and the mostly Arab and Turkmen former rebels in the ground force had "taken about half of the town" by Thursday morning, he said.

Massively outgunned by the Turkish army and its airforce, the YPG quickly lost a long stretch of the border when the assault was launched on October 9.

READ MORE: The propaganda war against Turkey is doomed to fail

YPG killed over 1,000 people in northern Syria – NGO

A rights watchdog has accused the YPG of killing 1,157 civilians in northern Syria from 2012 until September of 2019.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), 203 of the victims were children and 47 people –– including one child ––were tortured to death.

The human rights violations were documented in the provinces of Al Hasakah, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, Hama, and Homs.

Some 3,100 people are in detention centres held by the terrorist group in northern Syria, the SNHR said.

SNHR is a non-profit organisation that documents human rights violations in Syria since 2011.

READ MORE: Donald Trump's Syria policy is still opaque

'Don't be a tough guy' – Trump letter warns Erdogan 

US President Donald Trump warned Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan in a letter about Turkey's operation in Syria "don't be a tough guy".

The October 9 letter was released by the White House on Wednesday as Trump battled to control the political damage following his decision to pull the US troops out of northern Syria, clearing the way for the Turkish operation against America's terrorist allies.

"Let's work out a good deal!" Trump said in the letter. "You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy – and I will."

Trump's letter release came after US lawmakers have been sharply critical of his decision to remove American forces from the conflict zone.

The president wrote that the commander of the US-backed PKK/YPG Mazloum Kobani Abdi was willing to negotiate and to make some concessions.

He said he had confidentially enclosed to Erdogan a copy of a letter Mazloum had sent him. 

READ MORE: Europe’s ambiguity in the Middle East

Pence and Pompeo scheduled to meet Erdogan

Tough talks on Syria are expected in Ankara on Thursday as Turkish President Erdogan is scheduled to meet the US Vice President Mike Pence and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Ahead of their flight, the top US diplomats said they want to find a solution to the situation in Syria that threatens the relationship between Turkey and the US. 

READ MORE: Communications and equipment in former YPG-US held areas is being destroyed

October 16, Wednesday

PKK 'probably worse at terror' than Daesh – Trump 

Trump said on Wednesday that the PKK terror group, which has waged a decades-long terror campaign against Turkey were "probably" a bigger terror threat than Daesh.

"The PKK, which is a part of the Kurds, as you know, is probably worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS [Daesh]," Trump told a news conference at the White House.

"If you look at PKK, take a look at PKK, ISIS [Daesh] respects PKK. You know why? Because they're as tough or tougher than ISIS [Daesh]."

"We are making" the YPG/PKK "look like angels," he added.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK –  listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

READ MORE: Western criticism of Turkey's Syria operation is a joke

YPG/PKK told to lay down arms and withdraw

By tonight all terrorists must lay down their arms, destroy their traps and leave the safe zone Turkey determined, Turkish President Erdogan said in Ankara.

Addressing a session of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Erdogan said Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria will end when all terrorists leave the safe zone.

"The Republic of Turkey never sat at a table with terror groups; we are not looking for a mediator for that," Erdogan said, rejecting US and Russian overtures for a ceasefire.

"Turkey dismantled Daesh with Operation Euphrates Shield," he said. Accusing Turkey's allies of supporting terrorists instead of Ankara, Erdogan said, "Now the YPG/PKK has released Daesh terrorists from prisons – we are going to destroy them both."

He accused Turkey's partners of being "two-faced" and not doing enough.

“Of the six million who fled Syria, four million actually came to Turkey. Let us not forget, almost all of these refugees are Arabs. I want to ask the Arab League how many Syrian Arabs have they accepted.”

He said Turkey presented its recommendations to the Assad regime for peace before Syria plunged into war in 2011.

Erdogan, who is expected to visit the US in November, said he will evaluate that decision after meeting a Washington delegation in Turkey this week.

Female Daesh members released by YPG in Syria – report

At least 10 French female Daesh members jailed in a prison in northern Syria’s Ain Issa were released amid the recent operation, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

The newspaper said the women, along with their 25 children, were told to run away by YPG/PKK members who fled the area amid the conflict.

It also said, one of the women contacted the newspaper asking for help as France would not repatriate them.

Other escapees prefered to stay in Syria rather than face imprisonment in France and hoped to join their husbands hiding in Idlib, Le Parisien wrote.

Turkish forces kill 637 YPG/PKK terrorists

Turkish forces have killed a total of 637 YPG/PKK terrorists as part of Turkey's anti-terror operation in Syria, Turkey's National Defense Ministry said.

The announcement came via the ministry's official Twitter account. 

Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria entered its eighth day today.

Communications and equipment being destroyed

Syrian Kurdish sources told TRT World that American forces deployed to northern Syria alongside YPG forces are destroying laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices, which apparently contain communications and other sensitive information regarding the YPG and US relationship. 

"Two days ago, Americans made a big fire, burning cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices in Harabes," a source from southern Turkey told TRT World.

Harabes is a village located between Tal Abyad and Kobani, a border town where the Americans have a military base.

Read more details here.

Turkey's op 'currently' no threat to jails – France

France said on Wednesday that the security of YPG-run prisons holding suspected militants in northern Syria was "currently" not threatened by a Turkish military operation in the region.

"To my knowledge, the Turkish offensive and the positioning of the [YPG-led] SDF have so far not led to the safety and security of these camps ... currently being threatened," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French broadcaster BFMTV and RMC radio.

At least 46 Syrian National Army (SNA) soldiers killed

At least 46 Syrian National Army (SNA) soldiers were killed during Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria since its launch last week.

A total of 136 SNA soldiers have also been injured during Operation Peace Spring.

October 15, Tuesday

Putin invites Erdogan to Russia – Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in Syria in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and invited the Turkish leader to soon visit Russia, the Kremlin said.

Putin invited Erdogan "for a working visit in the coming days. The invitation was accepted", Putin's office said in a statement.

It said the two leaders emphasised "the need to prevent confrontations" between the Turkish army and Assad forces.

The call was initiated by Turkey, the Kremlin said.

Erdogan rejects call for ceasefire in Syria

President Erdogan said he rejected a call from US President Donald Trump to declare a ceasefire and halt Turkey's anti-terror Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria.

Erdogan said, "They say 'declare a ceasefire.' We could never declare a ceasefire against terrorists."

He also said that Turkey's operation in northern Syria will continue until all of its objectives are met and that he is not worried about sanctions, according to a report on local NTV.

The Turkish president added that talks with US and Russia on Syrian towns of Ayn al Arab and Manbij continue.

Erdogan's statement follows a deal reached between Assad regime and the YPG terrorist group in northern Syria after US troops pulled out of the region.

Syrian regime's entry into Manbij 'not very negative' 

Turkish President Erdogan said the Syrian regime's presence in northern city of Manbij was not a "very negative" development for his country, in comments published in the Hurriyet daily on Wednesday.

"The regime's entry into Manbij is not a very, very negative (development) to us. Why? Because it is their own land," Erdogan told journalists in a plane en route from Azerbaijan. He added that although the regime's movement was not concerning, he did not want any terrorists to remain there.

The Turkish president also said that an attack from northern Syria's Manbij town that killed one Turkish soldier, earlier on Tuesday, was launched by Syrian regime forces and Turkey's retaliatory fire had made the regime pay a heavy price in response.

Erdogan's statement follows a deal reached between Assad regime and the YPG terrorist group in northern Syria after US troops pulled out of the region.

Turkish, Russian leaders discuss Syria over phone

Turkey's President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed bilateral relations and regional developments over the phone late Tuesday.

According to Turkey's Directorate of Communications, Erdogan and Putin also discussed Turkey’s counter-terror operation in northern Syria and the Turkish president apprised his Russian counterpart of the operation's contribution to protecting Syria’s territorial integrity and political resolution process.

US VP, top diplomat to visit Turkey for talks

Pence will depart for Turkey to hold talks with top officials regarding Ankara’s ongoing Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria, Trump said.

Pence will be accompanied by Pompeo when he departs Wednesday, Trump said in remarks delivered at the White House.

The vice president's office released a statement adding Pence will be further accompanied by National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, and Trump's special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition James Jeffrey.

"In Turkey, the Vice President will voice the United States’ commitment to reach an immediate ceasefire and the conditions for a negotiated settlement," it said.

Pence is set to meet with Turkish President Erdogan a bilateral meeting for a bilateral meeting, according to the office.

Operation Peace Spring clears 1,000 sq km of terrorists 

Just seven days after it began, Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation has cleared a vast area of northern Syria from terrorist oppression, according to Turkish President Erdogan.

“As of this morning [Tuesday], we have liberated an area of around 1,000 square kilometres from the occupation of the separatist terror group,” Erdogan told the 7th Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council) in Azerbaijan's capital Baku.

“Terror groups are the biggest source of threat to peace, tranquillity, and stability in our region,” Erdogan said.

Britain backs Turkey at NATO meet

Close allies of Britain have condemned it for defending Turkey's operation in northern Syria in a Nato meeting in London, The Telegraph reported on Monday. 

It said the UK was left isolated after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the gathering that "Turkey needs to do what it sometimes has to do to defend itself."

"It is absolutely clear that Turkey has had, and still does have, a threat emanating towards it from groups such as the PKK, a terrorist organisation in this country as well, and that Turkey needs to do what it sometimes has to do to defend itself," Wallace said.

"However, it is our view that what has happened at present needs to be taken in a measured way in order for that security to take place for Turkey, but in a way that upholds the value of international law and humanitarian rights."

UN says 160,000 refugees flee region

The UN humanitarian aid coordinator said at least 160,000 civilians in northeast Syria have been displaced amid Turkey's anti-terror Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.

Spokesman Jens Laerke of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says most of the displacement has taken place from the towns of Ras al Ayn and Tal Abyad, where people are fleeing south.

Separately, spokesman Rupert Colville of the UN human rights office said it was "not seeing large numbers of civilian casualties" so far – "a few each day" – but people were being killed on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border.

Volkswagen delays decision on new Turkey factory

Volkswagen has delayed a decision over whether to build a new factory in Turkey over Ankara's anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria, a spokesman for the German car giant said.

While an announcement had been expected on a new factory worth up to $1.3 billion (1.5 billion euros) with 4,000 jobs, "the Volkswagen board has delayed the decision. We are carefully observing the present situation and view current developments with concern," the spokesman said.

Turkey kills 595 terrorists

A total of 595 YPG/PKK terrorists have been killed since the beginning of Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria, the National Defence Ministry said.

The ministry updated the figure in a Twitter post.

World should either join Turkey or accept refugees – Erdogan

In an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal , Erdogan said that in the absence of an alternative plan to deal with the refugee crisis in the Middle East, the international community should either join Turkey's efforts to end the humanitarian crisis and address the violence and instability that are the root causes of irregular migration in the region or begin admitting refugees.

Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey spent $40 billion as it took in 3.6 million Syrian refugees – more than any other country – and "shouldered the burden of hosting millions of war victims with very little help from the international community".

He added that Turkey's Operation Peace Spring was launched along the same lines to clear northern Syria of terrorist elements that are "preventing Syrian refugees, including some 300,000 Kurds, from returning home".

Erdogan further said that the Turkish state has no argument with any ethnic or religious group but stressed that Ankara's mission is simultaneously to combat the terrorist organisation known as the PKK, along with its Syrian affiliates YPG, and Daesh.

He emphasised on Ankara's objection to "equation of the PKK with the Syrian Kurds" as well as the "equation of ISIS [Daesh], which has murdered thousands of innocent people, with Islam."

Erdogan also expressed his resolve to "ensure that no ISIS [Daesh] fighters leave northeastern Syria."

He also slammed European and Arab League countries and asked: "Since they are so unhappy with Turkey’s efforts to reunite Syrian refugees with their ancestral lands, how many war victims have they admitted? How much did they contribute to efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria? Which political initiatives did they support to stop the civil war?"

October 14, Monday

US imposes new sanctions on Turkey

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions Monday on two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials over Turkey’s anti-terror operation.

Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and also on Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

"We are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Government of Turkey officials and entities, as necessary," the department said in a statement.

According to US law, those mentioned on the sanctions list face blocking of their properties (if any) and are prevented from having trade relations with the US.

Pence heads to Mideast

Pence says he's being dispatched to the Middle East by Trump.

Pence says Trump spoke with Turkey's leader earlier on Monday and called for an immediate end to Turkey's operation in Syria.

Pence says the president is "very concerned about instability in the region" and is denying that Trump gave Turkey the green light to launch the operation when he announced a troop pullout.

Pence says the US is "simply not going to tolerate Turkey's invasion of Syria any longer."

Pelosi wants to 'overturn' withdrawal from Syria

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she and a leading Senate Republican want Congress to produce bipartisan legislation to "overturn" Trump's withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

The California Democrat says the measure must be stronger than sanctions on Turkey Trump announced Monday.

Pelosi says she spoke Monday to South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

He's been drafting a bipartisan measure to bar weapons sales to Turkey and impose sanctions on the US assets of Turkish leaders.

The top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have said they will introduce similar legislation.

Will press NATO to take measures against Turkey – Esper

Esper said Monday he would ask NATO allies to punish Turkey for its anti-terror operation in Syria, saying Turkey's operation in the country had resulted in the release of Daesh detainees.

"This unacceptable incursion has also undermined the successful multinational 'Defeat ISIS' mission in Syria, and resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS [Daesh] detainees," Esper said in a statement.

Esper said he would travel to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week to ask allies "to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response to these egregious Turkish actions."

McConnell warns about US pullout in Syria

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the withdrawal of US troops from Syria threatens a "strategic calamity" and "catastrophic outcome" for American interests in the region.

Without mentioning Trump, the Kentucky Republican used a written statement Monday to criticise Trump's recent decision to pull US forces from the area.

McConnell says he is "gravely concerned" about the move. It was his strongest criticism of Trump's move and underscores near-solid bipartisan opposition in Congress.

McConnell says the withdrawal would let Daesh terror group rebuild and would boost Iran's and Russia's influence in the region. He said he anticipates discussing the problem with lawmakers and senior administration officials.

US troops leaving Syria to stay in Middle East

President Trump says the roughly 1,000 US troops he has ordered to leave Syria will remain in the Middle East to prevent a resurgence of Daesh threat.

In a written statement Monday announcing his authorisation of economic sanctions on Turkey, Trump made clear that the withdrawing troops will leave Syria entirely.

He said the troops will "redeploy and remain in the region." He described their mission as "monitoring the situation" and preventing a "repeat of 2014," when Daesh militants who had organised in Syria as a fighting force swept into neighbouring Iraq and took control of Iraq's north and west.

Trump confirmed that the small number of US troops at a base in southern Syria will remain there.

Macron warns Trump "to prevent re-emergence" of Daesh

French President Emmanuel Macron made clear to Trump "the absolute necessity to prevent a re-emergence" of Daesh, after the US pulled its troops out of northern Syria

Macron warned, in a telephone call, that the troop pullout and Turkey's operation in the region increased the threat of Daesh resurgence, the presidential palace said.

The French leader also held talks with President Erdogan and Iraqi counterpart President Barham Saleh, the presidency said.

Trump orders Turkey sanctions

Targeting Turkey's economy, Trump announced sanctions Monday aimed at restraining Turkey's operation in Syria – an assault Turkey began after Trump announced he was moving US troops out of the way.

In Washington, Trump said in a statement that he was halting trade negotiations with Turkey and raising steel tariffs. He said he would soon sign an order permitting sanctions to be imposed on current and former Turkish officials.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he added that steel tariffs will again be raised to 50 percent and negotiations for a $100 billion trade deal will be stopped "immediately" by the US Commerce Department.

American troops consolidated their positions in northern Syria on Monday and prepared to evacuate equipment in advance of a full withdrawal, a US defence official said.

PKK/YPG militants set Daesh terrorists free – officials

PKK/YPG deliberately released Daesh prisoners held at a jail in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, ahead of the Turkish forces' raid, senior Turkish officials said on Monday. 

"Turkish forces raided a prison in Tal Abyad earlier today, expecting to take custody of Daesh terrorists held there," a senior government official told reporters.

"Before they got there, PKK/YPG terrorists set free the Daesh militants in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area," he said, claiming that no doors had been broken in the prison.

"The folly of trusting a terrorist group for keeping watch over another is exposed for all," said the Turkish official.

Some relatives of the Daesh families in the Ain Issa camp told AFP news agency that PKK/YPG guards had forced the women and children to leave.

Turkey won't back down from Syria campaign – Erdogan

Erdogan said that Turkey will not back down from Syria offensive, adding that the battle would continue until ''ultimate victory'' is achieved.

''We are determined to continue the operation until the end, without paying attention to threats. We will absolutely finish the job we started. Our battle will continue until ultimate victory is achieved,'' Erdogan said during a speech in Baku.

He also slammed the European Union and Arab League for their criticism of Turkey's operation and asked for international funds for Ankara's ''safe zone'' plans in northeast Syria. 

Turkey spent $40 billion "on our guests" [Syrian refugees] and we will continue investing on our guests "because our understanding of civilisation requires us to do it," President Erdogan added. 

YPG 'may be releasing' Daesh prisoners – Trump

President Trump suggested Monday that PKK/YPG militants may be releasing imprisoned Daesh terrorists to force the United States to remain involved in northeastern Syria.

"Europe had a chance to get their ISIS [Daesh] prisoners but didn't want the cost. 'Let the USA pay,' they said..." Trump tweeted.

"....Kurds [PKK/PKK] may be releasing some to get us involved. Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly."

Erdogan slams foreign media, EU leaders

Turkish President Erdogan said he does not think any problems will emerge in Syria's Ayn al Arab after a Syrian National Army deployment is executed along the border.

"It seems there will be no problem [during the operation] in Kobani [Ayn al Arab] with Russia’s affirmative approach. Also, we are in the process of carrying out [the operation] in Manbij as we planned".

He also said a US move to withdraw some 1,000 troops from northern Syria was a positive step.

"We will not get into Manbij once it is cleared of terrorists instead the true owners of the land and the tribes will enter the region and we want to ensure their safety," the Turkish president added while also criticising the role of foreign media while covering Ankara's operation in northern Syria.

Erdogan also stressed that European leaders are subjected to serious misinformation about Turkey's operation. 

"I spoke to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel yesterday and to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the day before. I’ve seen that they, unfortunately, do not know many of the facts and are under the pressure of very serious disinformation," he said. 

He also urged NATO members to act according to Article 5 of the bloc.

Erdogan was speaking at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul before departing for Baku to attend the seventh Summit of the Turkic Council.

France says securing military in Syria as US begins withdrawal

France said on Monday it was taking measures to ensure the safety of its military and civilian personnel in northeastern Syria as the United States begins to withdraw its forces from the area. 

"Measures will be taken in the coming hours to ensure the safety of French military and civilian personnel present in the zone as part of the international coalition fighting Islamic State [Daesh] and humanitarian action," the French presidency said in a statement after an emergency defence cabinet meeting. It did not provide further details.

October 13, Sunday

Turkey to fight Daesh until total end of terror group

Turkey will continue its fights against Daesh until the terrorist group is completely wiped out, said a Turkish official on Sunday.

“Daesh is an enemy of Turkey, and we will not stop fighting them until they are completely eradicated,” Communications Director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.

“Turkey is focused and determined to continue the fight against Daesh, and is also a country that is fully dedicated to fighting these cowardly terrorists,” he stressed.

Altun shared a video of Erdogan, with his remarks on Daesh and Turkey’s ongoing Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.

“Turkey is the only country that actually fought against this coward terrorist organisation [Daesh]. Regarding the Daesh remnants who are still in Syria, I’m emphasising that we are ready to take on all responsibilities,” said Erdogan on Sunday.

“Despite this, those who continue to push accusations about our country regarding Daesh have no good intentions,” he added.

Top Turkish Cypriot officials back Turkey’s Syria op

Senior officials of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Sunday voiced support for Turkey’s recently launched operation in northern Syria.

“We're always together [with Turkey]. … The only right way for us is to act with Turkey and to stand shoulder to shoulder in this cause. People of TRNC stands by Turkey in it s Operation Peace Spring,” Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar told Turkey’s Communication Director Fahrettin Altun over the phone.

Tatar’s statement came after TRNC President Mustafa Akinci’s remarks against Turkey's military operation in Syria.

On Akinci’s remarks, Tatar said: “Turkish people should know that Ersin Tatar and his colleagues, National Unity Party, and other nationalists do not agree with those comments.”

People in Hasakeh as Syrian regime forces to deploy to north

Crowds of people gathered in the streets of Hasakeh late on Sunday to celebrate a decision by the Syrian regime forces to send troops to the north, Syrian regime news agency SANA reported.

US pulling out of northern Syria

Defense Secretary Esper said that President Trump had directed US troops in northern Syria to begin pulling out "as safely and quickly as possible." He did not say Trump ordered troops to leave Syria, but that seemed like the next step in a combat zone growing more unstable by the hour.

Esper, interviewed on two TV news shows, said the administration was considering its options.

"We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation," Esper said.

US withdraws forces from observation post in Syria

The US withdrew its forces from military observation post in south of Ayn al Arab in northern Syria, according to security sources.

The US started to withdraw from Ayn al Arab, also known as Kobani, at 15:00 pm local time 1200GMT.

Earlier, US Secretary of Defense Esper said that the US is preparing to evacuate about 1,000 US troops from northern Syria.

The decision came a week after Trump announced that the US would pull back its forces from the Syrian border after a telephone call with Turkish President Erdogan.

Macron holds emergency meeting

Macron held an emergency security meeting Sunday night to discuss the Turkish operation, and said he's working with Germany on unspecified new initiatives to end it.

Speaking Sunday alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, Macron said the Turkish offensive is creating "unsustainable" humanitarian problems and risks "helping the Islamic State [Daesh] group re-emerge in the region."

Merkel echoed that view, insisting that the offensive "should be stopped."

She acknowledged that Turkey has "legitimate security concerns" but said different solutions need to be found for the region.

Germany and France have suspended arms sales to Turkey, and Macron said he and Merkel will continue to coordinate on "initiatives in the coming hours and days."

Merkel spoke by phone to Erdogan earlier Sunday.

Tal Abyad liberated by Turkish and allied forces – reports

The city centre of Syria's Tal Abyad district has been cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists.

Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian National Army have taken control of the district, the second city centre after Ras al Ayn that was taken control of within the scope of the ongoing Operation Peace Spring.     

So far, a total of two city centres, one town, and 56 villages have been liberated from YPG/PKK terrorists.     

Anadolu Agency reporters in Turkey's border district of Akcakale in southeastern Sanliurfa province shot footage in which fighters of Syrian National Army can be seen cheering after taking control of the Tal Abyad city centre.     

Turkey takes key M-4 highway in Syria

Turkey's defence ministry said that its forces had taken control of the key M-4 highway in northern Syria as part of its operation against PKK/YPG militants. 

"Following successful operations as part of Operation Peace Spring, the M-4 highway has been brought under control after a 30-35 km-deep incursion," the ministry announced on Twitter.

Pentagon says up to 1,000 US troops to withdraw 

Esper said on Sunday Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 1,000 troops from northern Syria.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Esper told CBS's "Face the Nation."

Esper told Fox News that the number of troops being pulled back totaled "less than a thousand."

Syrian Kurds 'biggest' supporters of Turkish campaign

President Erdogan said on Sunday that they received the biggest support for Turkey's Operation Peace Spring from Syrian Kurds. 

"Our operation is not targeting the Kurds," Erdogan said in Istanbul. 

He said Turkey will not allow the establishment of a terrorist state in northern Syria. 

The ongoing military operation has killed 440 terrorists, injured 26 and captured 24, the president added. 

"So far, there have been 652 mortar and rocket attacks on Turkey's provinces of Sanliurfa, Mardin, Sirnak, and Gaziantep fired by the YPG/PKK terrorists," Erdogan said. 

He noted that 18 civilians, most of them children, were killed in PKK attacks on Turkey's border provinces and 147 people were wounded.

Battle for Tal Abyad rages on

Clashes between the Syrian National Army and PKK/YPG terrorists continues in the city of Tal Abyad as Turkey's Operation Peace Spring continues.

The area is an important location in Turkey's plan to create a safe zone in northern Syria to the east of the Euphrates River.

Turkish armed forces together with its allies, the Syrian National Army, have been successful in dismantling the terrorist corridor established by the PKK/YPG.

Turkish and SNA soldiers are currently trying to advance from the east and west of Tal Abyad's city.

They are facing resistance by PKK/YPG terrorists.

Turkish armed forces have deployed additional reinforcements to the area to assist in the battle.

Since the operation began five days ago, almost 500 terrorists have been killed.

District in Tal Abyad liberated

Turkey's Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria liberated a district in the city of Tal Abyad from terrorists on Sunday as it before moving into the city centre.

Suluk in southeastern Tal Abyad was cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists.

Turkish armed forces and its allies, the Syrian National Army are combing the area to ensure the safety of civilians.

So far, 42 villages in Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn have been liberated.

PKK/YPG to withdraw 30km from Turkey's border

Trump has defended his decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria and once again repeated a threat of sanctions against Turkey.

Trump also said PKK/YPG terrorists are intending to withdraw from an area 30 kilometres from the border with Turkey

But his main focus was on US troops as he spoke at the annual Values Voter Summit  in Washington, DC.

"I don't think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can't guard our own borders at home," Trump says 

“Sometimes we have to know what we are fighting for and we can’t stay there forever, we have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home.”

October 12, Saturday

Ras Al Ayn liberated

Successful operations in northern Syria by Turkey and Syrian National Army have lead to the liberation of the town Ras al Ayn from PKK/YPG terrorists as Operation Peace Spring continues, Turkey's Defence Ministry said.

According to the ministry, the battle for the strategic town was relatively quick as Turkish forces and Syrian National Army took control of surrounding villages first. 

Earlier, the ministry also confirmed that overnight raids in the region were conducted successfully.

Land and air assaults were carried out resulting in a total of 459 terrorists being killed since the operation began.

Turkish-backed Syrian National Army have reached strategic M4 highway in northern Syria, as forces continue their advance deeper into the region as part of Operation Peace Spring, 

In Turkey, a civilian succumbed to his wounds sustained from a cross-border mortar attack by YPG/PKK terrorists on Friday.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar and senior commanders are visiting the operations centre on Turkey-Syria border as Ankara's anti-terror campaign enters its fourth day.

Over 100,000 displaced

More than 100,000 people from the towns of Ras al Ayn and Tal Abyad have been displaced by the escalation of violence in Syria, the UN World Food Programme said on Saturday.

The World Food Programme and its partners will still support people in the northeast despite a deterioration in the security situation, it said.

About 580,000 of the people it feeds in the region are currently living in YPG-controlled areas

October 11, Friday

Turkey's Ministry of Defence denies targeting US post

Turkey's National Defence Ministry rejected claims that the Turkish army had targeted a US observation post east of the Euphrates in northern Syria amid its counter-terror operation.
"It is out of the question that any fire targeted the US's observation post", the ministry said in a written statement.

The statement outlined that every kind of measure was being taken in order not to harm the US base, adding that terrorist sources of harassment fire 1km south of the US observation post were targeted. 

It further said that fire was halted as a precautionary measure when the US conveyed its concerns.

A US official said earlier that an explosion occurred near a US military outpost in northern Syria, but no personnel were reported hurt.

Death toll in YPG/PKK attacks rises to 17

Turkish authorities say eight civilians have been killed in a Turkish border town following a mortar attack from Syria, bringing the civilian death toll in Turkey since the beginning of its cross-border operation to 17.

The governor's office of Mardin Province said in a statement on Friday that 35 others were injured in the border town of Nusaybin.

Nusaybin is across the border from Ras Al Ayn, which is part of northeastern Syria controlled by the YPG/PKK terror group. 

Dozens of mortar shells from YPG territory have landed in Turkey since Wednesday, when the offensive began. 

Two civilians killed in YPG/PKK attack from Syria

Two civilians were killed in southeastern Turkey on Friday by a terrorist YPG/PKK mortar attack coming from across the border in northern Syria, Turkish officials said.

The killings took place in the border district of Suruc in the Sanliurfa province amid Turkey’s newly launched anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

More YPG/PKK terrorists killed

A total of 342 terrorists have been killed since the start of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria this week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry says it's confident that the operation will help ensure peace and stability in northern Syria.

The Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul also released a message of support saying, "unfortunately the establishment of peace is not possible by peaceful means sometimes"

Day 3 of operations commence

Explosions send plumes of smoke into the sky in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad as Turkey's Operation Peace Spring commences with day three of strikes to rid the area of terrorists.

Turkey's Defence Ministry reports that one Turkish soldier was killed during the military campaign in northern Syria.

Turkish armed forces killed 49 more YPG/PKK terrorists during overnight strikes.

Meanwhile, France says EU sanctions against Turkey is 'on the table' over its military operation in Syria.

October 10, Thursday

Turkey kills 228 terrorists in Operation Peace Spring

A total of 228 terrorists have been killed so far since Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, the Turkish National Defence Ministry said late Thursday.

“Nine more PKK/PYD-YPG terrorists neutralised in air operation within the scope of Operation Peace Spring. A total of 228 terrorists neutralised so far since Turkey started Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria," the ministry said on Twitter.

Russia accuses US of 'demographic engineering' in Syria

The US-led anti-Daesh coalition's "demographic engineering" in northeastern Syria prompted Turkey's military operation in the area, Russia's envoy to the UN charged Thursday.

"This operation is a result of demographic engineering that some of the coalition partners did in the northeast of Syria," Vassily Nebenzia told reporters at the international body's New York headquarters.

"Now, in fact, the coalition is reaping the fruit of their demographic policies in that part of Syria."

The Russian diplomat delivered his remarks following a closed-door Security Council session on the situation in Syria.

During the session, the divided UNSC did not agree on Turkey's operation in northeast Syria, despite Europeans demanding a halt to military action.

YPG/PKK shelling kills civilians 

At least six civilians, including a nine-month-old baby boy were killed and 46 injured as rockets and mortar shells fired by YPG/PKK terrorists in Syria hit Turkish border towns, Turkish authorities said.

Rocket and mortars fired from YPG/PKK-occupied regions in Syria hit Akcakale, Birecik and Ceylanpinar towns of Sanliurfa as well as Nusaybin town of Mardin in southeastern Turkey.

Syrian baby Muhammed Omar lost his life after terrorist group PKK/YPG fired mortar shells and rockets from Syria into Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province.

Meanwhile, a total of 174 terrorists have been killed since the launch of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Erdogan says Daesh won't have presence in northeast Syria

Turkish President Erdogan guaranteed that Daesh will not have a presence in northeast Syria after Turkey completes its Operation Peace Spring in the region.

Erdogan added that doors were open to anyone who leaves terrorist PYD/PKK, acts to protect their homes and honour, whether Arabs, Kurds or others. 

“I call on Arabs, Kurds, all who have been forcefully recruited to YPG, to leave the terror group right away and start fighting for their honour and land along with our forces” said the Turkish president.

Turkey's plan with Operation Peace Spring is to make sure refugees can safely return home, Erdogan emphasised while addressing governing AK Party members in Ankara.

"We will not accept anyone being harmed by Operation Peace Spring, especially civilians,"  he said.

Erdogan further said that Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria has killed 109 terrorists since its start on Wednesday.

Besides, the Turkish president, referring to NATO treaty Article 5 said that NATO countries have no right to stay silent when a NATO member country is being attacked.

The Turkish president also slammed the EU, and warned, "If you try to describe our operation as ‘a push to occupy,’ we'II open our borders and send 3.6 million refugees to Europe."

"We are hosting 300,000 Kurds from Kobani, Syria," Erdogan said while rebuffing claims that Turkey is anti-Kurdish.

Russia ‘understands’ Turkey’s border security concerns

Russia understands Turkey’s concerns over its border security, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“Since the start of Syrian crisis, we emphasise that we understand Turkey’s concerns over its border security,” Lavrov told reporters on the side lines of the meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Foreign Ministers in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Lavrov said Russia also emphasised that these concerns would be eased within the framework of the agreement that was signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998, known as the Adana agreement.

Turkish troops capture initial targets in northern Syria

Turkish forces carrying out a military offensive into northeast Syria have captured initial targets and the operation is continuing successfully as planned, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

It said the operation continued throughout the night by land and air.

Turkish troops advance into northern Syria

Turkish troops are continuing their advance into northern Syria following a ground offensive launched as part of Operation Peace Spring, the Defence Ministry said early on Thursday.

"Our heroic commandos who are participating in Operation Peace Spring continue to advance [into the region] east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria," the ministry said on Twitter.

"Our army continues its fight against terrorists, while its main priority is to protect civilians from harm," Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter, touching on the purpose of the operation.

October 9, Wednesday

Turkish Armed Forces hit 181 targets belonging to terror organisations

Turkish air strikes and howitzers hit 181 terror targets as part of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, said Defence Ministry on Thursday.  

"Within the scope of the Operation Peace Spring; Turkish Armed Forces hit 181 terrorist positions with air forces elements and fire supporter vehicles," a tweet from the Operation Peace Spring Twitter account said. 

US moves two British Daesh members from Syria

Two British militants, believed to be part of a Daesh group that beheaded hostages and was known as "The Beatles", have been moved out of a detention centre in Syria and moved to US-controlled location out of the war-torn country.

Trump said that the US moved some of the Daesh prisoners as a contingency for in case  the situation in northern Syria gets out of control.

Erdogan prevented scattering of Syrian refugees - Trump

Trump said Wednesday that millions of Syrian refugees would be scattered around the world if Turkey were not hosting them.

Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump said Erdogan wanted to repatriate the refugees.

"Right now, he’s holding, in all fairness to him, he’s holding millions of people that would be all over the place if he wasn’t holding them," said Trump.

"So he wants to repatriate, he wants to have them go back into the area that he’s looking at."

Trump also acknowledged that the PKK - designated a terror organisation by the US, EU and Turkey - "have worked with us".

Trump blamed former US President Barack Obama for aligning with PKK, calling the terror group the "mortal enemy of Turkey". 

Ground operation begins in northern Syria

Turkey's Defence Ministry has said its ground forces have crossed the border into Syria as part of the Operation Peace Spring.

In a statement, the ministry said Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army have started land operations in east of the Euphrates River.

Turkish fighter jets fly 30 km deep in northern Syria

Turkish jets destroyed YPG/PKK targets 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) deep east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria as part of Operation Peace Spring.

YPG/PKK targets at the Rami Airbase and its ammunition depot near Ayn Isa district, as well as five villages, including Aluk and Tal Fender, were hit by Turkish F-16 jets. 

The airstrikes also hit the terrorist elements in the city of Ras al Ayn, as well as those in the rural areas of Derik and Qamasli districts. 

Meanwhile, an Anadolu Agency footage showed YPG/PKK terrorists burning tires in Ras al Ayn to block the recording of Turkish drones and the view of fighter jets. 

The footage recorded black fumes covering the city sky after tires were burned.

Operation targets terrorists - defence ministry

Operation Peace Spring is only targeting terrorists in northern Syria, as did previous Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.

"It is carried out respectfully to the territorial integrity of Syria in line with the country’s right borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions on fighting against terrorism and under the right to "self-defence" of the UN Charter," it said.  

"As in the Euphrates Shield Operation and the Olive Branch Operation, only terrorists, their shelters, positions, weapons, tools and equipment are targeted in the planning and implementation of the operation," the defence ministry said, adding all kinds of attention and sensitivity are shown to prevent the damages of civil/innocent people and historical, cultural, religious structures, infrastructure facilities and elements of friendly and allied countries in the region.

Mortar shells hit Turkish border town

Two mortar shells hit Turkey's border town of Ceylanpinar, but there were no casualties, Turkish broadcaster NTV said.

The shells landed shortly after Turkey and its Syrian opposition and rebel allies launched an offensive against YPG terror group in northeastern Syria, it said.

Turkey informs NATO, UN, countries about operation

Turkey informed the US, UK, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, NATO, and the UN about its Operation Peace Spring, Turkish National Defence Ministry said.

"The US, Russian Federation, the UK, Germany, France and Italy, NATO and United Nations secretary-general were informed about the Operation Peace Spring from 1100 GMT," said the ministry on Twitter.  

Turkey had 'legitimate security concerns'

Turkey has said its military operation in northeastern Syria will be restrained, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Stoltenberg told reporters that Turkey had "legitimate security concerns" and had informed NATO about its attack earlier in the day.

"Our ally Turkey is at the forefront of the crisis and has legitimate concerns. It has suffered horrendous terrorist attacks and hosts millions of refugees," Stoltenberg said.

"I am ensured that any action it may take in northern Syria is proportionate and measured," he said after meeting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

"It is important to avoid actions that may further destabilise the region, escalate tensions and cause more human suffering," he added.

EU says won't pay for 'safe zone'

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker urged Turkey to halt its military operation in northern Syria, telling Ankara the bloc would not pay for any so-called "safe zone" that might be created.

"I call on Turkey as well as the other actors to act with restraint and to stop operations already as we are speaking under way," Juncker said at the European Parliament.

Turkey of risking Daesh resurgence – Germany

Turkey "is willingly risking further destabilising the region and a resurgence of IS" [Daesh] by attacking northeastern Syria, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

"Syria needs stability and a political process... however, the Turkish offensive now threatens to cause a new humanitarian disaster," Maas said in a statement, adding that Berlin would "urge Turkey to end its offensive and to pursue its security interests peacefully."

Turkish military targets Tal Abyad

Turkish military is using howitzers on targets in Tal Abyad town as part of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, Anadolu Agency reported.

Tal Abyad is 100 kilometres from Ras al Ayn in northeastern Syria, near the border with Turkey. 

Turkey launched military Operation Peace Spring on Wednesday, with the first air strikes hitting the border town of Ras al Ayn.

READ MORE: Twitter reactions to Turkey's Operation Peace Spring

Turkey's military offensive in Syria begins – Erdogan

Turkish troops and the newly-regrouped Syrian National Army (SNA) began Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria, Erdogan said on Wednesday.

The operation aims to protect Syria’s territorial integrity and save the people of the region from the grip of terror, Erdogan tweeted at the start of military action in Ras al Ayn in northeastern Syria.

The Turkish president said the operation will neutralise terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone that will facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.

"We will preserve Syria's territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists," Erdogan said.

'Thousands of Syrian fighters mobilised'

Tens of thousands of Syrian fighters were mobilised to take part in a Turkish offensive that appeared imminent against PKK/YPG militants in Syria, spokesman for Anwar al Haq, a small faction within the Free Syrian Army said.

The Syrian fighters, most of them from northwestern areas backed by Turkey since previous offensives in 2016 and 2018, were gathered in a former refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Akcakale.

They belong to FSA, a coalition of groups backed by Ankara, which is now regrouped as the Syrian National Army.

At least 18,000 fighters are due to participate in the first stage of the Turkish offensive, according to Abdelrahman Ghazi Dadeh.

He said 8,000 would target the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad and 10,000 the town of Ras al Ayn, Dadeh told journalists in Akcakale.

An undetermined number of additional fighters were also expected to be mobilised for an assault on Kobane.

All three main towns in northeastern Syria are controlled by YPG.

Trump says moved troops out ahead of Turkish operation

Trump said his country's troops should never have been in the Middle East and the US moved "our 50 soldiers out" ahead of imminent Turkish operation in northern Syria. 

Trump, however, said Turkey must take over captured Daesh members "that Europe refused to have returned."

"The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!"

Trump said the US has spent $8 trillion "fighting and policing in the Middle East."

"We went to war under a false and now disproven premise – weapons of mass destruction. There were none. Now we are slowly and carefully bringing our great soldiers and military home."

Erdogan talks to Putin over Turkish operation

Turkey's President Erdogan and Russia's President Vladimir Putin discussed in a phone call Turkey's planned operation into northeastern Syria, the Turkish presidency said, as Ankara gears to launch its cross-border offensive.

In the call, Erdogan told Putin that the Turkish incursion will contribute to peace and stability in the country and open the way for the political process to resolve the conflict, the presidency said in a statement.

PKK/YPG 'wants to divide Syria' – Turkey's FM

Turkey will inform all relevant countries, including the Syrian regime, about its planned offensive into northeastern Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

He said, "There's a terror organisation on our southern border. This poses serious threats to our security. We often confiscate American weapons inside our own borders. Those were given to the YPG."

He said the YPG and the PKK are the same terrorists who also oppress the local people. 

"Over 300,000 Syrian Kurds were sent to Turkey as refugees because they disagreed with them," he said.

"This is a separatist terrorist organisation and wants to divide Syria, while we support Syria's territorial integrity. So, we've decided to start an operation against them," Cavusoglu said.

Turkey, US discuss steps for Syria 'safe zone'

Senior Turkish and US officials discussed measures for the formation of a "safe zone" in northeastern Syria and possible steps after a Turkish offensive in the region, broadcaster NTV said, as Ankara poised to launch its operation.

Ibrahim Kalin, an aide to President Erdogan, told US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien in a phone call that Turkey's operation aimed to clear its border of militants and to ensure the return of Syrian refugees, NTV said.

'Rally behind Turkey' – Top Erdogan aide tells global community

Turkish military forces, together with the recently branded Syrian National Army will cross the Syrian border "shortly," President Erdogan’s communications director said early on Wednesday, as a surprise withdrawal of US troops made way for the Turkish operation.

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Turkish Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the US has borne the brunt of the anti-Daesh campaign for a long while.   

"Turkey, which has NATO's second-largest army, is willing and able to take the lead now and drive it home, bringing millions of refugees back to Syria in the process," Altun wrote.    

"At this critical juncture, the international community must rally behind Turkey's rebuilding and stabilisation efforts," he added.   

"The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly," he said.

READ MORE: The need for a Syria safe zone explained

PYD calls for human shields

Russia on Wednesday warned US policies in Syria could "ignite" the whole region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned of the risks of Washington sending mixed signals on an American withdrawal from northern Syria.

Also on Wednesday, the PYD ruling parts of northeastern Syria called up civilians to head to the border with Turkey ahead of planned Turkish operation.

"We announce three days of general mobilisation in northern and eastern Syria," it said in a statement, asking all civilians to "head to the border with Turkey to fulfill their duty."

READ MORE: Four myths about the PKK/YPG terrorist group 

October 8, Tuesday

Syria opposition coalition throws support behind Turkey

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said it is ready to fight against terrorism with Turkey.

The coalition late on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and cooperating with its partners to defeat terrorist organisations.

The umbrella organisation, also known as the Syrian National Coalition, "is ready to combat terror in cooperation and joint action with the brothers in Turkey so as to safeguard the national interests of the Syrian people with all their Arab, Kurd, Turkmen, Assyrian, and other components," it said in a statement.

"The coalition hopes these efforts will succeed in finding a solution that will ensure the defeat of the PYD [YPG] militia and the trans-border terror groups that turned this region into a hotbed of chaos, violence, and terrorism," it added.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies