Turkey has now launched a ground offensive after air strikes and artillery fire against Kurdish militias in northern Syria. This was announced by the Turkish Ministry of Defense late on Wednesday evening on Twitter. "Our heroic Turkish forces and the National Syrian Army have begun their ground offensive in the East of the Euphrates as part of the Operation Peace Spring," it said. The Syrian National Army means Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
Turkish media reported in the evening that the army had crossed the border in at least three places. In total, 181 military targets had been attacked since the beginning of the operation, the Turkish Ministry of Defense said.
According to activists, at least 15 people were killed just hours after the attacks started at 4 pm local time. Among the eight civilian casualties are two children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The other dead were fighters of the Kurdish Kurdish militia SDF. The human rights defenders also reported more than 40 casualties, including 13 civilians. (Read a comment here on the Turkish operation in Syria.)
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali dismissed Syrian rebels' reports that they had entered Tal Abyad together with the Turkish army. According to SDF, it was on the other hand, succeeded in repelling the Turkish troops. According to the report, however, a prison had been hit during an air strike in which members of the terrorist militia IS were imprisoned.
Accordingly, the city of Kobane had previously been bombed by Turkey. A camp, in which formerly also the US military should have trained troops for the fight against the terrorist organization IS, was hit accordingly.
Turkey wants to build a buffer zone in Syria – in Kurdish territory
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of the long-planned military operation on Wednesday afternoon. The target of the offensive is the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls a large area in Syria near the Turkish border. Turkey sees in it an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK and thus a terrorist organization.
The offensive triggered international sharp criticism. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Berlin: "Turkey is accepting that it is destabilizing the region further and risking a resurgence of the IS."
Senators in the US Congress prepared a bipartisan resolution for sanctions against Turkey. Many governments and international institutions have called for an immediate halt to the offensive.
US President Donald Trump again threatened Turkey to "wipe out" the economy in Turkey should the Turkish advance eradicate the Kurds in the region. He had previously described the offensive as a "bad idea".