Turkey has shortly launched a planned military offensive into northeastern Syria just days after the Trump administration announced it was pulling US troops back from the border area. CNN reported.
"Our aim is to destroy the terror corridor which is trying to be established on our southern border and to bring peace and peace to the region," Erdogan tweeted.
He added that Turkey "will preserve Syria's territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists."
Shortly after Erdogan announced the offensive, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) -- a key US ally in northern Syria -- claimed that warplanes had begun carrying out airstrikes on civilian areas. "There is huge panic among people in the region," spokesman Mustafa Bali wrote.
The offensive comes days after US President Donald Trump provoked a storm of criticism, including from his own party, by announcing the pullback of US military forces from the region.
Trump's decision in effect gave Turkey a green light to attack US-backed Kurdish forces, though Trump threatened to punish Turkey economically if it does "anything outside of what we think is humane."
Ankara regards the Kurdish People's Protection Units, also known as the YPG, as a terrorist group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for more than three decades. But the US backs the YPG and credits the Kurds for helping defeat ISIS in Syria.