Day 2: Turkish military enters northern Syria; at least 22 killed

Turkey's military advanced into a region east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria on Thursday after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the attack against Kurdish militants leading the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

At least eleven members of the SDF and six from the Turkish side have been killed in clashes focused on the town of Tal Abyad and villages on its outskirts, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It was not immediately clear if the Turkish casualties were from the military or loyalist fighters. An additional five SDF fighters died in a Turkish assault on Ras Al-Ayn, it said.

08:01 - Turkish vice president calls on world to unite in support of Turkey

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said countries across the globe should unite in the battle against terrorism after an offensive by Turkey's military into northeast Syria was met with criticism by many political leaders.

"It is our greatest expectation that the world public opinion will have the same determination in the fight against terrorist organizations," Oktay said in comments on Twitter overnight.

07:43 - Initial clashes, bombings kill at least 22, Syrian group says

The SDF is resisting an offensive by Turkish forces in and around Tal Abyad, where at least 11 members of the SDF along with six attackers were killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday. Five fighters of the SDF were killed in a Turkish air and ground assault on Ras Al-Ayn on Wednesday, it said. Thirty-three members of the SDF were injured in the overall clashes, which included shelling and targeting by medium and heavy weapons in Ras Al-Ayn and other areas stretching from east of the Euphrates river to west of the Tigris. The SDF is hitting areas inside Turkish territory with mortars, the observatory said.

00:51- Damage to U.S. reputation will be extraordinary over cutting deal with Erdogan - Sen Rubio

The U.S. senator Marco Rubio sent a tweet message on Wednesday night slamming President Trump for letting Turkish forces begin the military operation.

22:01- The U.S. has not given Turkey a green light - Sec Pompeo 

The U.S. has not given Turkey a green light to invade Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday evening, but also added that Ankara had “legitimate security concerns” and that President Donald Trump made a decision to move American soldiers out of harm’s way, Reuters reported. 

Speaking to broadcaster PBS in an interview, Pompeo dismissed widespread concerns over the resurgence of Islamic State in Syria, Reuters said.

21:31- Pres Trump: Turkey should pursue operation "humanely" 

At a press conference, U.S. President Trump says Kurds did not help U.S. during World War Two, but "we like the Kurds." Trump says Turkey should pursue operation "humanely" and that if Erdoğan conducts it unfairly "he's going to pay a very big economic price."

Trump says he agrees on sanctions but that consequences could be even tougher on Turkey if he deems its military operation to cross the line.

21:11- U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham announces sanctions bill targeting Turkey

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham agreed sanctions bill proposing extensive measures against Turkey in response to Syria operation, including sanctions on assets President Erdoğan and top cabinet ministers and CAATSA sanctions

20:41- Turkey starts ground offensive in northeast Syria 

The Defence Ministry announced that Turkey started a ground offensive as part of Operation Peace Spring in Syria targeting Kurdish forces.

The ground offensive arrives hours after Turkish warplanes and artillery began hitting territory held by Kurdish-led forces in the region.

20:35 -  Iran's parliamentary speaker scraps Turkey visit

Iran's parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani has cancelled an upcoming trip to Turkey after it launched an operation into Syria, Reuters quoted Iranian state TV as saying

"Larijani was invited by his Turkish counterpart to attend a parliamentary meeting in Turkey. His trip has been cancelled," it quoted the station as saying.

20:25 -  Saudi Arabia condemns Turkish offensive

Saudi Arabia has condemned Turkey’s operation into northeast Syria targeting Kurdish militia, Reuters quoted an official source in the Saudi foreign ministry as saying.

The kingdom is concerned over the incursion, which poses a threat to regional security and peace, the source said. 

 20:15 -  SDF says 5 civilians killed, dozens wounded in Turkish bombing

The majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said five civilians have been killed and dozens wounded following Turkish bombing in the border region on Wednesday, Reuters reported. 

Tree of its own fighter have also been killed in the attack, the SDF said.

20:00 - Military operation into Syria, Rojava trending on Turkish Twitter

Two hashtags pertaining to the Turkish incursion into northern Syria, which began on Wednesday, are trending on Turkish Twitter.

Twitter users are using the hashtags of  #BarisPinarıHarekati, the name given to the incursion, and #Rojova Kazanacak, Rojava will win, in their social media posts.

 19:30 - Erdoğan chairs meeting on incursion in Ankara

The Turkish president chaired a meeting  at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on the military operation into northern Syria.

Turkish ministers, Chief of Staff Yaşar Güler, as well as the Turkish Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, were present during the meeting,  Yeni Şafak said.

 19:15 - Istanbul mosques sound prayers in support of incursion

Mosques across Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul called out special prayers for Turkey’s operation into northern Syria, pro-government Sabah newspaper reported.

Called on an order, the prayer preceded the daily night prayers, Sabah said. 

19:00 - Erdoğan advisor tells CNN Turkish, U.S. presidents in agreement on details of incursion

Senior advisor to the Turkish President, Gülnur Aybet, tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over the details of the Turkish incursion.

18:45 - Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition HDP calls for united stance against occupation

The opposition pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has called on the country to unite against the “occupation’’ of northern Syria, stressing that Turkey needs peace at home instead of cross-border operations. 

“We are calling on the people of Turkey to say no to war,’’ pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency quoted HDP officials as saying.

18:30 - U.N. Security Council to meet over Turkish incursion on Thursday

The U.N. Security Council is set to meet behind closed doors on Thursday to address the Turkish incursion in northeast Syria, the New York Post reported.

The meeting follows a request the five European members, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland, it said citing diplomats .

France, Britain and Germany  “are finalizing a joint statement that will be extremely clear on the fact that we condemn very strongly and firmly what has been reported,” it said, quoting French European Affairs Minister Amélie de Montchalin.

18:30 - Border regions of  Şanlıurfa province under special security 

Parts of Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province which border with Syria have been declared special security regions by the governor’s office, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported.

18:10 - White House says Turkey operation a ‘bad idea’

President Donald Trump says the United States “does not endorse’’ Turkey's assault on Syria, calling the operation “a bad idea,’’ AP reported.

The U.S. President, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said that Turkey had committed to “protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place,''

“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form.  We expect Turkey to abide by all of its commitments, and we continue to monitor the situation closely.'' Trump said.

18:00 - Turkish media shares images of Erdoğan following developments  

Pro-government Yeni Şafak has posted images on its Twitter account of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the developments on Turkey’s incursion.

17:45 - U.S. House Minority leader calls on Turkey to stop incursion

U.S.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called for Turkey to immediately stop its incursion into Syria  and continue to work with the United States to secure the region.

17:45 - Egypt calls for emergency Arab meeting 

Egypt has called for an emergency meeting of the League of Arab States over Turkey's offensive into Syria, Reuters quoted the country's foreign ministry saying.

“Egypt condemned in the strongest terms the Turkish aggression on Syrian territory,” the ministry said.

 17:30 - EP official says Turkish incursion a disruption in possible future EU partnership

Sergey Lagodinsky, Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee of the European Parliament, has said the Turkish incursion is a disruption for any future partnership while calling on the  EU will not finance any resettlements of refugees outside of the Turkish territory. 

"We should neither condone nor finance forceful demographic shifts in Northern Syria, especially those that come at cost of people who already had to flee their homes once,’’ Lagodinsky said. 

17:25 - Six rockets strike Turkish city of Nusaybin

Six rockets fired from Syria's Qamishli have struck Turkey's border town of Nusaybin, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

17:20 - Trump ally condemns U.S. president over Turkey's Syria operation

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a staunch ally of Donald Trump, has condemned the U.S. president for "shamelessly abandoning" Syrian Kurdish forces that participated in the U.S.-backed global coalition against ISIS. Trump agreed to allow the Turkish military operation during a phone call with Erdoğan on Sunday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Graham vowed in a tweet he would lead Congress to make Erdoğan "pay a heavy price."

17:15 - Civilians fleeing Tel Abyad

Thousands of civilians are fleeing the city of Tel Abyad as Turkish forces and Syrian factions amass across the border, North Press Agency reported.

The civilians are headed towards Ein Issa and Kobani, the agency said.

17:00 - Turkey's top religious body calls on mosques to support incursion

The Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate has called on all mosques across the country to take part in prayers on Thursday.  The directorate has asked for the "conquest prayer" be recited across the country's mosques in support the cross-border operation into Syria, Dokuz8 news site said.

16:45 - Former U.S. anti-ISIS envoy says Turkish army targeting Tel Abyad

Turkish forces have begun moving into Syria, with their first target the town of Tel Abyad, ex-U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk said on Twitter. The former Special Presidential Envoy in the fight against ISIS said Erdoğan had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin before moving forces into the region. 

"The coming weeks will see a slow-moving train-wreck as US policy remains divorced from any achievable objective (get Iran out?) under a president that wants out altogether," McGurk tweeted. "The belief that we can now contain Turkey’s ambition into one small area is delusional. Cat’s out of bag."


16:41 - Images from Ras al-Ayn show inhabitants leaving

A video posted by Agence France-Presse shows inhabitants of Ras al-Ayn leaving as plumes of smoke rise from the city.

16:26 - Turkey informed Syrian Consulate in Istanbul about the operation

Foreign MinisterTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, talking live about the operation, said Syria's mission in Istanbul had been informed before the beginning of the assault.

Çavuşoğlu will speak to his U.S. counterparty Mike Pompeo this evening.


16:15 - Turkish opposition leaders voice support for Peace Spring

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey's secularist main opposition Republican People's Party, has offered prayers for the Turkish soldiers involved in Operation Peace Spring.

"We always stand beside our armed forces and our soldiers, and they have our prayers," said the party's mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu.

16:15- France, Britain call for emergency UN Security Council meeting

Britain and France have called the UN Security Council to an emergency meeting, according to CNN Türk.

16:07 - NATO Secretary General defends Turkish operation

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency has quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying Peace Spring was a response to "legitimate security concerns."

“And Turkey, as all countries, has the right to self-defence,” Hürriyet Daily News quoted Stoltenberg as saying. The NATO official stressed that this needed to be done “in a proportionate and measured way.” 


15:58 - Germany urges Turkey to halt operation

Germany on Wednesday urged Turkey to halt a military operation in northern Syria, saying the incursion would destabilise the country and risk helping a resurgence of the Islamic State (ISIS), Reuters reported.

“Turkey is risking a further detribalisation of the region and a reinvigoration of Islamic State,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “The Turkish offensive could lead to a new humanitarian disaster as well as new refugee flows.”

15:53 - Russian Foreign Minister calls for dialogue, Syrian Kurds ask Russia to act as guarantor

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for dialogue between the Syrian government and Kurdish groups as the "only way to solve problems, and all stakeholder should support it," Russia's embassy in Britain tweeted.

Syrian Kurdish officials welcome talks with Damascus and have asked Russia to act as a guarantor, Russian state news outlet TASS said on Wednesday, citing a report from Jordanian outlet al-Hadath.

15:47 - Mobile services cut in Akçakale

Mobile phone operators have cut services in the border town of Akçakale, Turkish news outlet NTV reporter Nizamettin Kaplan reported. 

Schools have been closed in the town until Monday, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported.

15:43 - UN Security Council President appeals to Turkey to protect civilians

Arab News reports that UN Security Council President Jerry Matthews Matjila has urged Turkey to exercise "maximum restraint" in its military operation.

15:37 - EU calls on Turkey to halt offensive

The European Union has called on Turkey to halt its Syria offensive, which France has "strongly condemned," Agence France-Presse reports. EU figures say they will not pay for Turkey's planned settlements for refugees in the safe zone, the AFP report said.

Meanwhile, Britain and France have called the UN Security Council to an emergency meeting, according to CNN Türk.

15:39 - EU's Juncker calls on Turkey to stop incursion

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calls on Turkey to show restraint and stop its military operation in northeast Syria, Reuters reported.

“Turkey has security concerns at its border with Syria, that we must understand. However, I call on Turkey, as well as other actors, to act with restraint,” Reuters quoted Juncker as telling the EU parliament.

15:28 - Defence Ministry announces launch of operation

 The Turkish Defence Ministry announced Operation Peace Spring was launched at 4 p.m. local time "to secure our borders ... eliminate terrorists and terrorist organisations including Da'esh (ISIS) and the YPG that threaten our national security and create the necessary conditions to return displaced Syrians to their homes and territory."

15:15 - Ankara summons UN Security Council representatives

Turkey's Foreign Ministry has summoned diplomatic representatives of the United Nations Security Council, Voice of America reported on Wednesday.

15:11 - Turkey bombards key border towns

Turkish F-16 jets have begun bombarding Ras al-Ayn, while artillery has been shelling targets in Tel Abyad, Turkish daily Hürriyet reports.

15:01 - U.S. ambassador summoned before operation

Turkey summoned the U.S. Ambassador, David Satterfield, to inform him of the operation before it was launched, Turkish secularist daily Cumhuriyet reported.

But American politicians, who backed the YPG and SDF in the global coalition against ISIS, are angry, and plan to sanction Turkey.

"Turkey must pay a heavy price for attacking our Syrian Kurdish partners. Senators on both sides of the aisle won't support abandoning the one regional group most responsible for putting ISIS on its heels," tweeted Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. "Our bipartisan sanctions bill is being finalized now."

15:00 GMT - Turkey launches Operation Peace Spring

Turkey officially confirmed it had launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their partners the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Wednesday afternoon.