Turkey has launched a military operation in northeast Syria.
Turkish troops are continuing their advance into northern Syria following a ground offensive launched as part of Operation Peace Spring, the Defense Ministry said early Thursday.
“Our heroic commandos who are participating in Operation Peace Spring continue to advance [into the region] east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Turkey launched the operation Wednesday to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
“Turkey, acting within the framework of its rights arising from international law and the ‘right of self-defense’ set out in the UN Charter, is determined to drain the swamp of terror that threatens our borders and poses a threat to the whole world. ”
Turkey has said the PKK terrorist group and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-kilometer (19-mile) wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij.
However, the presence of terrorist groups such as the PKK, PYD and YPG risk its formation.
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, effectively abandoning the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against ISIL.