Tens of thousands of Syrian fighters mobilised by Turkey

A Turkish military vehicle returns after a joint U.S.-Turkey patrol in northern Syria as it

He said that Turkish forces, with Ankara-backed Syrian fighters known as the Syrian National Army, had begun to eradicate what he called "the threat of terror" against Turkey.

Kurdish military leaders inside Syria have been braced for an attack since Donald Trump announced earlier this week that USA troops were withdrawing from the area. "This attack will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded", the group said in a statement. The Turkish regime, however, has been massing troops for days along its border with Syria, vowing that it would go ahead with the attack and not bow to the USA threat. Witnesses reported hearing the sound of planes overhead and said smoke could be seen rising from buildings in the border town.

"There are millions of Syrians that Turkey is actually hosting and now it seems we have to deal with a large community of IS fighters and their families in Syria, thus this is raising important questions", said former ambassador and political commentator Oguz Demiralp.

Russian Federation criticizes "reckless attitude" of U.S.

"The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea", Trump said. Erdogan said Wednesday that the long-anticipated offensive aims to establish "a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes".

Syrian Kurdish leaders have long warned that the SDF may not be able to continue holding IS prisoners if the situation was destabilised by a Turkish invasion.

"According to initial reports there are casualties among civilian people", it said in a statement.

It was hard to know what was hit in the first hours of the operation.

The US-backed Kurdish-lead SDF said the Islamic State fighters launched three suicide attacks against its positions in Raqqa, which was once the group's de facto capital.

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Turkey has angrily rejected worldwide criticism of its attack on a Kurdish militia in Syria, reporting progress by its forces on the second day of an operation that world powers fear could further destabilise a region in turmoil.

US military officials confirmed that they have repositioned about 50 USA special force members, who had been operating along the Turkey-Syria border, out of harm's way. It also would ignite new fighting in Syria's 8-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands.

Turkey has been preparing for an attack on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

But Trump also threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.

In the U.S., Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing an ally, the Syrian Kurdish forces, and undermining Washington's credibility. He has said he will convene a donors conference to help meet the cost and has called on European nations to share the burden, warning that Turkey could be forced to open the "gates" for an influx of migrants to Western nations.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International are also urging Turkey's military to act with restraint and ensure civilians' safety.

Italy condemned the offensive as "unacceptable", saying military action in the past always led to terrorism. Turkish troops would team up with Free Syrian Army rebels, Altun wrote, a group that the Central Intelligence Agency covertly armed until 2017.

In a column published Tuesday by The Washington Post, Erdogan's communications director, Fahrettin Altun said that Erdogan and US President Trump had agreed to "transfer the leadership of the counter-Daesh campaign" to Ankara, offering that Turkish forces "together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly". "It should also be emphasized that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria".

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