Turkish offensive begins in Kurdish-held Syria

Turkish warplanes taking off marked the beginning of that country's new offensive into northern Syria.

And with it, airstrikes in areas held by Kurdish forces and artillery fire.

The Kurdish-led militias, the Syrian Democratic Forces, say the explosions are creating panic among the local population.

The buildup of Turkish troops and their Arab militia allies on the border has lasted for days.

Just hours before the offensive started, video surfaced said to show a convoy of American troops leaving the area.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan says his military is creating a "safe zone" clear of the Kurds: a place for refugees who fled Syria to resettle in, also a buffer between Turkey and Kurdish fighters they consider terrorists.

An SDF spokesman, Ahmad Moussa, released this statement:


"The world knows the reason behind the attack on northeast Syria. Therefore we call on human rights organizations and democratic countries, the European Union, and United Nations to take a stand against the Turkish attack. Anyone that is not moving against the Turkish attack is considered a supporter of it."

It's notable that the Kurdish statement doesn't mention the United States.

The Kurds have decried the decision for U.S. troops to leave the area as a stab in the back after years spearheading Washington's efforts in Syria.

The SDF is now making overtures toward Moscow and the Syrian government in Damascus as the U.S. withdraws, a new chapter in the complicated tangle of alliances in this eight-year conflict.

In the hours before the offensive began, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the cost in money and American lives was too much to justify his country's involvement in the quote, "endless wars" of the Middle East.