Turkey's military operation in Syria: All the latest updates

SANA news agency says Syrian army at Manbij's main square as Turkish president vows to press ahead with offensive.

    Heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses on with its military operation, now in its eighth day, against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the military action aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create 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 area, 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.

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    Here are the latest updates:

    Wednesday, October 16 

    Turkey's Erdogan may visit Russia by end of October

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan may visit Russia for talks by the end of October, the RIA news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

    On Tuesday, Erdogan spoke over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia, a close ally of Damascus, has been critical of Turkey's military operation.

    Russia's presidential envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said on Tuesday that Turkey has no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently.

    Tuesday, October 15

    US senator to introduce Turkey sanctions bill

    Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said he will introduce a bill on Thursday sanctioning Turkey for its offensive.

    "I will be introducing sanctions against Turkey Thursday and I do appreciate what the (Trump) administration has done against Turkey through executive action but more to follow," the Reuters news agency quoted Graham as telling reporters.

    Erdogan rules out ceasefire

    Erdogan said he told US President Donald Trump Turkey would never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported.

    Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said talks with Washington and Moscow on Syria's Kobane and Manbij towns continued, and added it was "not negative" for the Syrian army to enter Manbij as long as fighters in the area were cleared.

    He also said he had told the US president that Turkey would "not negotiate with a terrorist organisation" in response to Trump's mediation offer.

    Separately, the Turkish presidency said Erdogan had told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that Turkey's operation in northeastern Syria would contribute to counter-terrorism efforts, Syria's territorial integrity and a political solution process

    US carries out 'show of force' to Turkish-backed fighters: Report 

    US military aircraft carried out a "show of force" in Syria after Turkish-backed fighters came in close proximity to the country's forces, a US official told Reuters.

    The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said US military aircraft were flown over the area after troops in northeastern Syria felt the Turkish-backed fighters were too close. The Turkish-backed fighters dispersed after the show of force, the official said.

    The Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to journalists in Istanbul, Turkey, October 13, 2019
    Erdogan has repeatedly vowed Turkey will press ahead with its offensive despite widespread international criticism of the operation [Presidential Press Office handout via Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies