ANKARA, Turkey: The Turkish military has taken control of specific People’s Protection Units (YPG/PKK) targets in northern Syria and Operation Peace Spring is successfully proceeding as planned, the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.
The ministry released a statement on its official Twitter account, citing details about the ongoing military operation.
The military has hit over a hundred YPG/PKK targets in northern Syria, as it advanced to the east of Euphrates.
“Using air forces elements and fire support vehicles, the Turkish Armed Forces have opened fire on a total of 181 targets belonging to the terrorist organization [YPG] under the scope of Operation Peace Spring,” the ministry said.
Smoke was billowing from buildings in the Syrian towns of Ras-Al-ain and Tel Abyad as jets hit their first targets, marking the beginning of the operation.
Meanwhile, homes in Turkey’s border town, Ceylanpinar, were hit by rocket shells launched from Syria.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Our ally Turkey is at the forefront of the crisis and has legitimate security concerns.”
“It has suffered horrendous terrorist attacks and it hosts millions of Syrian refugees.”
He said NATO was informed by Turkish authorities about their ongoing operation in northern Syria.
“It is important to avoid actions that may further destabilize the region, escalate tensions and cause more human suffering,” Stoltenberg cautioned.
The UN Security Council is set to meet for an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the operation.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry has announced that only terrorists and their shelters, weapons, positions and equipment were targeted while extra attention was paid to prevent damage to civilians as well as cultural and historical structures.
The operation was announced by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.
The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria. Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 9, 2019
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in interview, “Even if we’re alone in this matter [operation], we’ll do whatever is necessary to bring Syrians back to their land,” he emphasized.
He said the government had no problem with its “Kurdish brothers” and its aim was to eliminate “terrorists” in Syria.
While United States President Donald Trump, in a recent statement to media, said, “They [Kurds] didn’t help us in Second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy [France].”
“We have spent tremendous amounts of money on helping the Kurds in terms of ammunition, in terms of weapons, in terms of money, in terms of pay with all of that being said we like the Kurds.”
He went on to say that US forces worked with PKK “through off group”.
President Trump, in his latest tweet, has asked Turkey to “Take over captured ISIS fighters that Europe refused to have returned”.
Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East. Moved our 50 soldiers out. Turkey MUST take over captured ISIS fighters that Europe refused to have returned. The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending! https://t.co/Fbcem9i55Z
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2019
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, “They [Turkey] have a terrorist threat to their south. We’ve been working to make sure that we did what we could do to prevent that terror threat from striking the people in Turkey.”
Pompeo said the US was leaving Syria because it has achieved the goal of eliminating the ISIS’s territorial hold.
Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have “condemned” the Turkish military operation, whereas United Kingdom and Iraq have expressed “serious concern”.
Iran’s military has initiated unannounced military drills near its northwestern border with Turkey in the wake of the recent attack.