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Turkey launches ground offensive in northern Syria

October 10, 2019 8:15 am

Turkey has launched a ground offensive in northern Syria, hours after its warplanes and artillery began hitting territory held by Kurdish-led forces.

Troops had entered the area “east of the Euphrates”, Turkish officials said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was to create a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will also house Syrian refugees.

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Earlier, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) vowed to resist any Turkish advance.

Amid growing humanitarian concerns, the SDF asked the US-led coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) to establish a no-fly zone in the area to stop “attacks on innocent people”.

The Kurds – key US allies in defeating IS in Syria – guard thousands of IS fighters and their relatives in prisons and camps in areas under their control and it is unclear whether they will continue to be safely detained if ground battles break out.

The offensive was launched just days after President Donald Trump withdrew US troops from the border area, a decision that was widely condemned at home and abroad.

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