Turkey opens ground assault on Syria’s Kurds

    People stand together as they flee Ras al Ain town, Syria October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said

    Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies attacked Kurdish militia in northeast Syria on Wednesday, pounding them with air strikes and artillery before starting a cross-border ground operation that could transform an eight-year-old war.

    The assault began days after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled American troops out of the way, prompting denunciations from senior members of his own Republican Party who say he abandoned the Syrian Kurds, loyal allies of Washington.

    “The Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian National Army have launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river as part of the Operation Peace Spring,” the Turkish defence ministry tweeted after nightfall, following a day of pounding the area from the air.

    Turkish media reported troops entering Syria at four points, two of them close to the Syrian town of Tel Abyad and two close to Ras al Ain further east.

    Turkey told the United Nations Security Council in a letter seen by Reuters that its military operation would be “proportionate, measured and responsible.” The 15-member body will meet on Thursday to discuss Syria at the request of the five European members, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland.

    The 22-member Arab League said it will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday.