At least eight civilians among 15 people have been killed after Turkish bombardment on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group said in an updated toll. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced the start of the military offensive in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least two of the civilian victims were killed in artillery strikes on the city of Qamishli. Turkey launched its threatened offensive hours earlier, with a limited number of air strikes and mostly artillery fire across most of the width of its long border with Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria.
The Turkish operation would ignite new fighting in Syria's 8-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands of people, and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported that people had begun fleeing the border town of Tal Abyad.
Earlier, Trump had said the US does not endorse Turkey’s military offensive in Syria, describing it as a bad idea, but defended his efforts to pull American forces out of the region.
The White House announced late Sunday that Turkey would soon carry out a military operation in northern Syria and that US troops will no longer be in the immediate area, raising widespread concerns about the safety of the Kurds without American forces to act as a buffer.
“This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said hours after Turkish forces entered northern Syria. There are no American soldiers in the area, he said.
“From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars especially those that don’t benefit the United States,” Trump said.
Turkey, he said, has committed to protect civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place and we will hold them to this commitment.
Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the border between Syria and Trukey was roundly criticized by some of the president’s staunchest Republican allies in Congress and Democrats. They said pulling the US forces back essentially gives Turkey room to go after the Kurds.