Turkish warplanes have reportedly begun bombing Kurdish positions in Syria, a day after the US announced it was pulling troops from the region in a move slammed as a “stab in the back”.
The bombings started late on Monday, with Turkish Air Force jets targeting the Semelka Border Crossing at the Iraq border in northeast Syria, local media reported.
There were also reports of artillery bombardment targeting the border area between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, with the Turkish Foreign Minister describing the actions as a “temporary measure”.
“They abandoned us in the middle of struggle against ISIS,” General Mazloum Ebdi, commander of the majority Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, told ABC News through an interpreter.
Gen. Ebdi told the US broadcaster the Turkish offensive could lead to ethnic cleansing. He said the decision to pull out “hurt the credibility” of the US, adding, “When you broke or hurt the credibility or the confidence, it’s not an easy thing to recover it.”
Earlier on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his army was ready to strike against Kurdish militants “at any moment”, i24 News reported.
“There is a phrase that we always say — we can come any night without warning,” Mr Erdogan told reporters. “It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups.”
Turkey’s Defence Ministry tweeted just after midnight that its troops were ready to fight to protect its 82 million citizens. “If we die we are martyrs, if we don’t, we are war veterans,” the account wrote.
In a follow-up tweet, the Defence Ministry said the establishment of a safe zone was essential and that it would never tolerate a “terror corridor” on its border. “All preparations for the operation have been completed,” it added.
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) October 7, 2019