Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that civilians would not be targeted in Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.
Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria on Wednesday just days after US troops pulled back from the area, with warplanes and artillery striking militia positions in several towns in the border region.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, announcing the start of the action, said the aim was to eliminate what he called a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border, but European countries immediately called on Ankara to halt the operation.
Thousands of people fled the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain towards Hasaka province, held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Turkish air strikes had killed two civilians and wounded two others, the SDF said.
Turkey had been poised to enter northeast Syria since U.S. troops, who have been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against Islamic State, started to leave in an abrupt policy shift by US President Donald Trump. The withdrawal was criticized in Washington as a betrayal of America’s Kurdish allies.