World powers fear Turkish offensive could threaten regional security and allow for the revival of ISIL.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive – which began with air raids on Wednesday – is aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.
The SDF, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has appealed to the US and its allies for a “no-fly zone” to protect it from the Turkish attacks. Turkey considers the YPG a “terrorist” group.
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Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said Washington did not give Ankara “a green light” for a military offensive into Syria.
“That’s just false,” he said, in an interview with PBS channel, but did not elaborate other than to say that Turkey has a “legitimate security concern”.
“They have a terrorist threat to their south,” Pompeo said. “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, while trying to achieve what is in America’s best interest: the threat from radical Islamic terrorism emanating from Syria.”
Pompeo said the US was leaving Syria because it has achieved the goal of eliminating the Islamic State’s territorial hold, which the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces played an instrumental part in.
“We’ll continue to be in a position to do what we need to do to keep the American people as safe as we possibly can from this threat,” he said.
The Turkish lira was steady against the dollar early on Thursday after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies launched a ground operation against a Kurdish militia in northeast Syria overnight.
The lira was quoted at 5.8671/5.8716 against dollar at 04:21 GMT, compared with a day earlier close of 5.8679. It weakened 0.5 percent on Wednesday when the operation began with air strikes.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he had been in contact with the Turkish and US governments overnight, but admitted to being worried about the situation in Syria following Ankara’s announcement of a military operation.
“We are very concerned about what this could potentially mean for the Kurdish people,” he said. “We’re concerned about what this could mean for the potential for the resurgence of Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
Two “high-value” fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) held by Syrian Kurds have been taken into US custody and moved out of the country, a defence official said on Wednesday.
Officials say they took El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, part of a four man cell who beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers in 2014 and 2015, out of Syria to an undisclosed location.
“I can confirm that we’ve taken custody of two high-value ISIS individuals from the SDF,” the defence official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
“They have been moved out of Syria and are in a secure location,” the he added, without naming the location. “They are being held in military custody pursuant to the law of war.”
Read more here.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that tens of thousands of people in the area targeted in Turkey’s offensive are at “great risk”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Anna Nelson, a spokesman for the ICRC, urged all sides to remember their obligations to protect civilians.
US President Donald Trump said he would devastate Turkey’s economy if its offensive in Syria wipes out the Kurdish population there.
Asked by a reporter if he was concerned Erdogan will wipe out the Kurds, Trump replied: “I will wipe out his economy if that happens.”
“I’ve already done it once with Pastor Brunson,” Trump said, referring to US sanctions slapped on Turkey over the detention of a US citizen. “I hope that he will act rationally,” he added.
Kuwait said the Turkish offensive was a direct threat to stability and peace in the region and called for restraint, state news agency KUNA reported.
Several other Arab countries also condemned the offensive, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
A spokesman for the SDF said the group confronted a ground attack by Turkish troops who launched a cross-border operation against it in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad.
“Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters in Til Abyad…No advance as of now,” Mustafa Bali said in a post on Twitter.
Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters in Til Abyad. No advance as of now.
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) October 9, 2019
Clashes involving heavy weaponry took place between SDF fighters and Turkish troops west of Tal Abyad, local sources told Al Jazeera Arabic.
Turkish forces began ground operations in northeastern Syria, entering the country east of the Euphrates River, Turkey’s defence ministry said.
The ministry said the Turkish troops were joined by allied Syrian opposition forces.
The UAE foreign ministry condemned the Turkish offensive in a statement carried by the state news agency WAM.
The ministry’s statement said that the Turkish aggression represents a dangerous development and a blatant and unacceptable move against the sovereignty of an Arab state in contravention of the rules of international law.
The Arab League said foreign ministers from around the region will meet to discuss Turkey’s military operation in Syria.
Hossam Zaki, deputy secretary-general of the pan-Arab organisation, said the meeting will take place in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Saturday.
Iran’s parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani cancelled his scheduled trip to Turkey after Ankara launched its military operation, Iranian state TV reported.
“Larijani was invited by his Turkish counterpart to attend a parliamentary meeting in Turkey. His trip has been cancelled,” state television said, without providing further details.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry denounced Turkey’s military push as a “blatant violation of the unity, independence and sovereignty of Syrian territories”.
In a series of posts on Twitter, the ministry said Riyadh “expressed its concern over this aggression as a threat to regional peace and security”.
#KSA pointed out that the seriousness of this aggression on northeastern Syria has negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region, especially undermining the int'l efforts in combating ISIS organization.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) October 9, 2019
The SDF said Turkish bombing of the border region killed five civilians and injured dozens more.
Three SDF fighters were also killed during the air raids, the group said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile put the death toll at 11, including eight civilians.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had “serious concerns” about Turkey’s military push.
“This risks destabilising the region, exacerbating humanitarian suffering, and undermining the progress made against Daesh [ISIL] which should be our collective focus,” Raab said in a statement.
“Turkey has shown considerable generosity in hosting so many Syrian refugees. But we will not support plans for returns until the conditions are in place for a voluntary and safe return home,” he added.
Residents in the northern Syrian cities of Qamishli and Derik took to the streets to protest against Turkey’s military offensive, the SDF said.
Footage posted online purported to show a rally in Qamishli, which was earlier bombed by Turkish warplanes, according to the SDF.
— Baderkhan Ahmad (@baderkhanahmad) October 9, 2019
Trump warned Turkey against attacking Syria, saying its air assault was “a bad idea” not backed by the United States, and called on Ankara to protect religious minorities.
“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
“Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place – and we will hold them to this commitment.”
A Syrian war monitor and a Kurdish activist collective said the Turkish bombardment had killed at least one member of the SDF.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one SDF fighter was killed in the bombing and six others were wounded.
The Rojava Information center, an activist collective in northeast Syria, confirmed that an SDF fighter was killed in the border town of Ras al-Ain.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “very concerned” by the developments in northeastern Syria, United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said.
“Civilians and civilian infrastructure should be protected,” Haq said. “The secretary-general believes that there’s no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry slammed Turkey’s military operation, calling it an “aggression” against Syria’s sovereignty.
In a statement, the ministry condemned “in the strongest words” the offensive and called for the UN Security Council to halt “any attempts to occupy Syrian territories” or “change the demographics in northern Syria”.
It also called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said he had summoned the Turkish ambassador after Ankara launched the military offensive in Syria.
“The Netherlands condemns the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria,” Blok said in a statement. “We call on Turkey not to continue on the path they are going down.”
The UN Security Council will meet on Syria behind closed doors on Thursday, diplomats told the Reuters news agency.
The discussion of the situation in Syria by the 15-member security council was requested by the body’s five European members, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland, the diplomats added.
The SDF halted operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group in Syria amid Turkey’s military offensive, two US officials and a Kurdish military source told Reuters.
“The SDF stopped the anti-ISIS operations because it’s impossible to carry out any operation while you are being threatened by a large army right on the northern border,” the Kurdish military source said.
One of the US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspension also impacted US training of stabilisation forces in Syria.
Turkey sent a diplomatic note to Syria’s consulate in Istanbul to inform Damascus about its cross-border operation into northeast Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said shortly after Ankara launched the offensive.
Speaking to reporters in Algeria, Cavusoglu said Turkey’s operation was based on its rights related to international law and added that Ankara had informed all the necessary actors, including the United Nations and NATO.
The Turkish bombardment of a village west of border town Ras al-Ain killed at least two civilians and wounded two others, the SDF said.
— Coordination & Military Ops Center – SDF (@cmoc_sdf) October 9, 2019
A witness told the Reuters news agency that thousands of people had fled Ras al-Ain deeper into SDF-controlled territory towards Hasakah province.
Turkey “is willingly risking further destabilising the region and a resurgence of IS [ISIL]” by attacking northeastern Syria, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“Syria needs stability and a political process… however, the Turkish offensive now threatens to cause a new humanitarian disaster,” Maas said in a statement, adding that Berlin would “urge Turkey to end its offensive and to pursue its security interests peacefully”.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey should act with “restraint” and any military action taken should be “proportionate”, adding that it was important not to destablise the region any further.
Stoltenberg told reporters that Turkey had “legitimate security concerns” and had informed NATO about its planned offensive earlier in the day.
“I count on Turkey to act with restraint and ensure that any action it may take in northern Syria is proportionate and measured,” he said, after meeting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “It is important to avoid actions that may further destabilise the region, escalate tensions and cause more human suffering.”
Turkey’s rebel allies in northern Syria said they would have no mercy on Syrian Kurdish fighters in the country’s northeast, who they said had left them no choice but a battle.
“Strike them with an iron fist, make them taste the hell of your fires,” a statement from the so-called National Army, the main Turkey-backed rebel force told its fighters. It also called for sparing civilians and those who defected to the rebels.
Turkish jets were bombing SDF military positions and villages in Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ain, Qamishli and Ain Issa, the Kurdish-spearheaded group said in a post on Twitter, adding there were initial reports of civilian casualties from the strikes.
“Intensive bombardment by Turkish jets on military positions and civilians villages in #Tal_Abyad , #Serê_Kanye, #Qamishlo and #Ain_Issa. According to initial reports there are casualties among civilian people,” the SDF said.
Intensive bombardment by Turkish jets on military positions and civilians villages in #Tal_Abyad, #Serê_Kanye, #Qamishlo and #Ain_Issa.
According to initial reports there are casualties among civilian people.
— Coordination & Military Ops Center – SDF (@cmoc_sdf) October 9, 2019
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged Turkey to halt its military operation and warned the European Union would not help finance the creation of any “safe zone” in northeastern Syria.
“I call on Turkey as well as on the other actors to act with restraint and to stop operations already, as we are speaking, underway,” Juncker told EU legislators.
The EU is paying Turkey more than $6bn to help the country cope with millions of Syrian refugees hosted on its territory in exchange for stopping migrants leaving for Europe. However, Ankara is seeking more money amid concerns that thousands more Syrians could soon cross its border.
A witness in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad told Reuters that sounds of explosions rang out and smoke was rising near the border with Turkey, as people fled the town en masse amid the beginning of the Turkish offensive.
The SDF appealed to the US and its allies for a “no-fly zone” to protect it from Turkish attacks.
“The SDF showed good faith to the security mechanism agreement between the US and Turkey. This left our people defenceless,” the group said.
The US ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry to be briefed on the military offensive into northeastern Syria, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, minutes after Ankara launched its cross-border operation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s long-threatened military operation in northeastern Syria had started.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria,” Erdogan said in a post on Twitter, referencing the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he added.
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
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said Turkish warplanes had started carrying out airstrikes on “civilian areas”.
“There is a huge panic among people of the region,” Bali said in a post on Twitter.
Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas. There is a huge panic among people of the region.
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) October 9, 2019
Tens of thousands of Syrian proxy fighters have been mobilised to take part in the Turkish offensive, a spokesman said.
The Syrian fighters, most of them from northwestern areas controlled by Turkey since previous offensives in 2016 and 2018, were gathered in a former refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Akcakale. They belong to factions of the FSA, a coalition of groups armed and financed by Ankara.
At least 18,000 fighters are due to participate in the first stage of the Turkish offensive, according to Abdelrahman Ghazi Dadeh, spokesman for Anwar al-Haq, a small faction within the FSA. Dadeh said 8,000 would target the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad and 10,000 the town of Ras al-Ain, Dadeh told journalists in Akcakale.
An undetermined number of additional fighters were also expected to be mobilised for an assault on Kobane. All three towns in northeastern Syria are controlled by the YPG.
French President Emmanuel Macron is very worried at the prospect of a Turkish army operation into areas controlled by Kurdish forces in northern Syria, his office said.
Macron met senior Syrian Kurdish official Ilham Ahmed at the Elysee Palace on Monday “to show that France stands alongside the SDF as they are partners in the fight against ISIL and that we are very worried by the possibility of a Turkish operation in Syria,” a presidential aide told AFP.
The aide added that Paris would “pass on these messages” to the Turkish authorities.
Macron has on occasion irritated Turkey by hosting in Paris members of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Council.
Ankara insists such groups are merely fronts for the YPG, an arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a 35-year armed campaign against Turkey.
Turkey will inform all relevant countries, including the Syrian government, about its planned offensive, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Speaking at a news conference in Algeria, Cavusoglu said the operation would be carried out in line with international law and that the only targets of the offensive were armed fighters in the region.
He said Erdogan had told US President Donald Trump at the weekend that Ankara would launch the offensive after Washington stalled efforts to form a “safe zone” in the region.
Meanwhile, a vehicle believed to be carrying Turkish intelligence agents has arrived at a border point in Akcakale, Turkey near the Syrian town of Tal Abyad.
The white car, which police said was carrying Turkish intelligence officials, was seen being followed by another vehicle believed to be carrying FSA rebels.
According to local police, the intelligence agents had arrived to carry out inspections.
The head of the Arab League said he was alarmed at Turkey’s planned military offensive into northeastern Syria.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that such an invasion would be a “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and threatens Syria’s integrity”.
He added that Turkey’s planned incursion also threatened to inflame further conflicts in eastern and northern Syria, and “could allow for the revival” of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Turkey to show restraint and avoid military action in northern Syria, and said US forces should leave the region.
“Turkey is rightfully worried about its southern borders. We believe that a correct path should be adopted to remove those concerns,” state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying.
“American troops must leave the region,” he added. “Kurds in Syria… should support the Syrian army.”
Iran’s army began an unannounced military drill in the northwest of the country bordering Turkey, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported, as Turkish troops prepare to enter the territory of Iran’s ally Syria.
ISNA said the drill included rapid reaction units, mobile and offence brigades and helicopters from the Army Ground Force’s Air Unit.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said his country’s preparations and deployments for its planned military offensive were continuing.
It was not clear where Akar was speaking from.
Syria’s territorial integrity must be preserved, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, as Turkish forces prepared to enter the country.
US actions in the region were contradictory and Russia urged dialogue between Damascus and Syria’s Kurds, he told reporters during a visit to Kazakhstan following a surprise withdrawal by US troops.
“Americans have violated their promises many times,” Lavrov said, adding that the US was playing “a very dangerous game”.
The foreign minister also discussed the issue with Kurdish leaders in Iraq.
“They are extremely alarmed that such a lightweight treatment of this extremely delicate subject could ignite the entire region,” he said.
The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria called up civilians to defend the region against a feared Turkish assault, believed to be imminent.
“We announce three days of general mobilisation in northern and eastern Syria,” it said in a statement, urging all civilians to “head to the border with Turkey to fulfil their duty”.
A US-backed force and two Syrian activist groups say ISIL fighters carried out an attack in the city of Raqqa in northern Syria.
The attack targeted a SDF-held post in Raqqa, which was once ISIL’s de facto capital.
The attack came as Turkey was expected to launch an offensive against the Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria.
The Kurdish fighters said ISIL launched three suicide attacks against its positions in Raqqa. There was no word on casualties.
The Turkish military, together with the FSA, will cross the Syrian border “shortly”, Erdogan‘s communications director said, as Ankara prepared to start military action in the region.
In a tweet, Fahrettin Altun said that Kurdish fighters there could either defect or Ankara would have to “stop them from disrupting” Turkey’s struggle against ISIL.
The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly.
YPG militants have two options: They can defect or we will have stop them from disrupting our counter-ISIS efforts.https://t.co/vQByIUQHQB
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) October 8, 2019
The SDF said Turkish forces were attacking one of its positions near the border.
“The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on #SereKaniye Border with Turkey,” the SDF said in a post on Twitter, referencing the key border town of Ras al-Ain.
“There were no injuries to our forces. We didn’t respond to this unprovoked attack. We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE #Syria,” it added.
The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on #SereKaniye Border with Turkey. There were no injuries to our forces.
We didn't respond to this unprovoked attack. We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE #Syria.@mutludc @mustefabali @vvanwilgenburg
— Coordination & Military Ops Center – SDF (@cmoc_sdf) October 8, 2019
Ras al-Ain was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey’s parliament voted to extend by another year a mandate that allows the government to order cross-border military offensives in Iraq and Syria.
The mandate has allowed the country to battle Kurdish rebels, ISIL fighters and other groups that Turkey views as “terrorists” in Iraq and Syria and has been extended every year since 2014.
The current mandate expires on October 30.
Umit Yalcin, Turkey’s ambassador to Britain, urged states to take back suspected ISIL fighters amid Turkey’s seemingly imminent military push into northern Syria.
“All the countries should take back their own ‘terrorist’ fighters or ‘terrorists’. That is the ideal thing. Because when they were leaving their countries, they had their nationalities and passports,” Yalcin told UK broadcaster Sky News.
“Those countries should take those people back to their own countries and they can bring them justice, or take them to court or rehabilitate them,” he added.
The SDF is currently holding 12,000 suspected ISIL fighters – some of whom are foreign nationals – in several detention facilities spread across northern Syria, as well as some 58,000 family members, according to reports.
US President Donald Trump consulted with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley “over the last several days” about a possible Turkish strike in Syria, a spokesman for the US Defense Department said.
“Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally. As a result, we have moved the US forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety. We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria at this time,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Russia’s security council said it was important to avoid hindering the peace process in Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The influential council discussed the creation of a constitutional committee in the country and “remarked that at this stage everyone should avoid any actions that can inhibit the peace process in Syria,” Peskov said.
Peskov had earlier said Russia was not informed about the withdrawal of the US from the region.
“We still don’t know which troops are being withdrawn, in what amount, and whether they are being withdrawn at all,” he added.
Ankara plans to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria within which it can resettle millions of Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey.
But some critics of the proposal have cast doubts over its feasibility.
Read more here.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the US on November 13 at the invitation of Trump, a White House spokesman said.
Trump said Erdogan was visiting as his “guest” in a series of earlier tweets defending his decision this week to withdraw US forces from northern Syria.
With Turkey seemingly poised to cross its frontier with Syria imminently, analysts weighed what a military confrontation between Washington’s long-time Kurdish allies and its fellow NATO member might look like.
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Britain said it was “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s looming move to target Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British government had been “consistently clear with Turkey that unilateral military action must be avoided as it would destabilise the region”.
Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, called on Syrian Kurds to rejoin the government side rather than “plunge into the abyss” as Kurdish militias in the country’s northeast brace for an imminent Turkish attack.
“The homeland welcomes all its sons and Damascus will solve all Syrian problems in a positive way, away from violence,” Mekdad was quoted as saying by the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper.
“We advise those who have gone astray to return to the nation, because the nation is their final destiny,” he added , vowing to “defend all Syrian territory”.
Mekdad’s comments were the first Syrian government reaction since Trump‘s announcement on withdrawing US troops from the northern region.
The US government had not “abandoned the Kurds”, Trump said in a post on Twitter, despite seemingly giving the green light for the Turkish operation by pulling US troops from the region.
“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Trump said.
We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good. Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2019
The Turkish defence ministry said it was all set to launch its military push into northeast Syria.
Turkey’s armed forces “will never tolerate the establishment of a terror corridor on our borders. All preparations for the operation have been completed,” it said in a post on Twitter.
“It is essential to establish a safe zone/peace corridor to contribute to our region’s peace and stability, and for Syrians to achieve a safe life.”
Read more here.
The Turkish military carried out attacks targeting the Syrian-Iraqi border overnight to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce northeast Syria, two Turkish officials told the Reuters news agency.
“One of the fundamental goals was to cut off before the operation in Syria the transit route between Iraq and Syria,” a security official said. “In this way, the group’s transit to Syria and support lines, including ammunition, are shut off.”
It was not clear what damage was caused or whether there were casualties.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the situation in northeast Syria with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, by telephone.
A Russian foreign ministry statement released no details of the conversation but said the two ministers agreed to continue a close dialogue.
Russia, a major military ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aiding his forces in the fight against rebels, has emerged as a leading power broker in Syria and has said that the country’s territorial integrity must be respected by all outside powers.