AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) — Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the campaign, which followed an abrupt decision Sunday by U.S. President Donald Trump that American troops would step aside to allow for the operation.
Trump’s move represented a shift in U.S. policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurdish fighters who have been America’s only allies on the ground in Syria. They were longtime U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.
After Turkey’s offensive began, there was sign of panic in the streets of Ras al-Ayn— one of the towns under attack with residential areas close to the borders. Cars raced to safety, although it was not clear if they were leaving the town or heading away from border areas. Near the town of Qamishli, plumes of smoke were seen rising from an area close to the border after activists reported sounds of explosion nearby.