Turkey's offensive into Syria: More casualties, displacement

President Erdogan speaks to his ruling party officials in Ankara on Thursday

In response to the Turkish bombardment, a barrage of shells from the Syrian side rained down on the Turkish border town of Akcakale, where the streets were practically empty.

The offensive was launched days after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the way in an abrupt policy shift that followed a phone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

On the accusations of betraying the Kurdish fighters, Trump on Wednesday stated that he condemned the Turkish military operation and said: "In no way have we abandoned the Kurds".

The Syrian Kurdish militia was the only U.S. ally in the campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.

Reuters journalists heard gunfire there from across the frontier in the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. But their claims could not be independently verified, and the situation on the ground was hard to assess.

He was referring to the Kurdish People's Protection Units, a group that began fighting ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015-with support from the US -but is considered a terrorist group by Turkey because of its push to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border.

He did not elaborate, and the reports on the ground did not indicate anything remotely close to such a large number of casualties.

Turkey President Erdogan defiantly declared on Thursday that he would permit Syrian refugees in Turkey to move to Europe if European Union countries described his forces' move as an occupation. "It should speak about the illegal military presence in that country", Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters, referring to the presence of US troops in Syria.

Signed in Turkey's southern city of Adana, the agreement is aimed at easing Ankara's concerns regarding the PKK terrorist group.

Cavusoglu has said the military intends to move 30 kilometers (19 miles) into northern Syria and that its operation will last until all "terrorists are neutralized". Such a zone would end the Kurds' autonomy in the area and put much of their population under Turkish control.


Erdogan also noted that Syrian refugees will be sent from Turkey to the safety zone to be created in northern Syria.

In an apparent attempt by Kurdish-led forces to retaliate, mortar fire from Syria killed three people including a child in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, hospital and security sources said.

"The three countries are finalizing a joint statement that would clearly state our strong condemnation of the Turkish operation", Montchalin told the Foreign Affairs Committee.

SDF commander Amed Amude claimed that Kurdish forces had downed Turkish drones and destroyed five tanks as he pledged resistance would continue. In a tweet, he called it "the first village to win freedom".

News of the soldier's death came as the campaign against Syrian Kurdish fighters entered its third day and opposition to the action grew. It didn't provide details.

Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, but added that the USA "does not endorse" Turkey's operation.

On Wednesday Trump defended USA policy towards Kurds, saying it had sent them "tremendous amounts" in arms and funds.

"No one is accepting responsibility for them", the USA -based rights group said, calling for urgently improving prison conditions and ensuring lawful detention.

Trump has called the Turkish assault against the US -aligned Kurdish a "bad idea" and has reiterated that he did not endorse it. Later Wednesday, he said he didn't want to be involved in "endless, senseless wars". Both the Observatory and Hawar said US warplanes flew over the base immediately after the incident. US officials have anxious Islamic State detainees would sieze on such an opportunity for a prison break.

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