AKCAKALE, Turkey – Turkish tanks arrived at the Syrian border Wednesday afternoon as Turkey started a ground operation in northern Syria.
Earlier, turkey attacked Kurdish militia positions in northeast Syria, pounding them with air strikes and artillery barrages in a cross-border military operation just days after U.S. troops pulled back from the area.
Explosions struck the Syrian town of Tel Abyad.
After dark, the red flare of rockets could be seen fired across the border into Tel Abyad, and flames burned near the town.
The assault on the Kurds — for years Washington’s main allies on the ground in Syria — is potentially one of the biggest shifts in an eight-year war that has drawn in global and regional powers.
The Kurds played a leading role in capturing territory from ISIS, and now hold the largest swath of Syria outside of Bashar al-Assad’s government’s hands.
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull forces out of the way was denounced by some Kurds as a “stab in the back” and strongly criticized in Washington, even by loyal senior figures in his own Republican party.
President Trump called the Turkish assault a “bad idea” and said he did not endorse it.
He said expected Turkey to protect civilians and religious minorities and prevent a humanitarian crisis.