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Turkish military campaign against Kurdish forces begins in NE Syria

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-10-08 09:42

A Turkish military helicopter flies over as Turkish and US troops return from a joint US-Turkey patrol in northern Syria, as it is pictured from near the Turkish town of Akcakale, Turkey, Sept 8, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

DAMASCUS - The Turkish military campaign against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began on Monday night in northeastern Syria, Syria's state TV reported, branding the military operation as a "Turkish aggression."

The Turkish attack targeted the SDF-held Tal Tawil area in the northeastern countryside of Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, said the report.

The attack comes as Turkey has been threatening recently to start a military operation in northeastern Syria against the Kurdish-led groups, which it deems as terrorist groups.

It's not yet clear whether the attack is a fully-fledged one or just a limited one.

Meanwhile, the TV aired some footages purporting to show night shelling by Turkish forces on the aforementioned area.

It said there are no human losses from the Turkish attack.

It's worth noting that the Syrian state media outlets have been branding the SDF as a "separatist Kurdish movement" as this group and its broader umbrella of the People's Protection Units (YPG) control areas in northern and northeastern Syria with the backing of the United States.

Earlier in the day, the United States pulled out forces from observation points in northeastern Syria along the borderline with Turkey amid threats by Ankara to launch a military campaign against the US-backed Kurdish forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The US withdrew forces from observation posts at Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain in northeast Syria.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unleashed his strongest warning yet, threatening to launch a military operation against the US-backed Kurdish militia groups in northeastern Syria.

In August, the US and Turkey agreed to have joint patrols into designated Kurdish areas near the Turkish border as a prelude to imposing a safe zone.

In his speech on Saturday, Erdogan said the deal with the US to secure the border with Turkey was faltering.

Meanwhile, the SDF said in a statement Monday that the US didn't live up to its pledges to defuse the tension with Turkey despite the "flexibility" the Kurdish militia has shown regarding the US-Turkish understanding to create a safe zone in northern Syria.

The SDF said that the Turkish campaign will undermine the SDF war on terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and will endanger the security and safety established in Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria.

On the ground, the Turkey-backed Syrian rebels started crossing from Syria into the Turkish territories on Monday to be transported to areas opposite to the Kurdish-controlled parts in northeastern Syria as part of the preparations for the Turkish campaign.

Turkey sees the YPG and its allied SDF as "separatists and terrorists," citing their links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

The Kurdish militia forces have been controlling areas in northern Syria since the early years of the crisis in Syria, in order to force Damascus to recognize a federal rule or autonomy for the Kurds in northern Syria.

However, Syrian government officials repeatedly said that Kurdish federalization in Syria or self-rule is out of the question.

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