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Erdogan Announces Launch of Turkish Offensive into Syria

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Turkish military, Syrian rebel forces to cross into Syria 'shortly': Erdogan's aide

Turkey has been poised to advance into northeast Syria since US troops began leaving the area in an abrupt policy shift by US President Donald Trump.

The decision was a major shift in US policy and drew opposition from all sides at home. Trump denied he had abandoned the Kurdish forces, who were the most capable USA partners in fighting Islamic State in Syria. "US should never have been in Middle East", the president said.

The Turkish army has been poised to cross into war-ravaged Syria since the surprise withdrawal of U.S. troops last weekend.

A U.S. base in northern Syria just a few kilometers away from the Turkish border has been completely abandoned, new footage reveals.

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Ras al-Ain town.

Trump, in a break with many Republicans, has called for less U.S. military involvement overseas and says USA troops completed their mission in Syria of fighting the Islamic State movement.

He said no American forces are in the area.

President Donald Trump has dismissed the idea that the USA would leave the Kurds - who he called "special people and wonderful fighters" - to a grisly fate, warning North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner Turkey of "economic devastation" if their upcoming incursion led to any "unnecessary fighting".

On October 4, Turkey's Defence Ministry announced that the U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting their third joint ground patrol on Friday within a planned safe zone in northern Syria, along the Syrian-Turkish border. The AP could not verify the report independently.

Trump has insisted he is not abandoning Kurds that fought with USA and coalition partners against IS.

However, Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, claimed that Turkish warplanes had begun carrying out attacks in Syria's civilian areas, CNN reported. More than 40 other people had been wounded, according to the Britain-based monitoring group, which has a network of sources across Syria.

Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest foreign ally, said it was not told in advance by Washington or Turkey about any agreements to pull United States troops. It also would ignite new fighting in Syria's 8-year-old war, potentially displacing hundreds of thousands.

The Kurds also said they want the USA -led coalition to set up a no-fly zone in northeastern Syria to protect the civilian population from Turkish airstrikes. The resident, who gave his name as Maher, said the road to Raqqa was packed with vehicles and families, some fleeing on foot "to get away from the bombing".

People were fleeing the town, witnesses said.

Turkey has been preparing for an attack on the Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

The announcement of the drills comes as Turkey says it is about to launch an offensive into northern Syria.

It also called on Kurds in Syria and overseas to protest against Ankara's planned offensive. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday on "Fox & Friends".

Trump later said the U.S.

Trump tweeted about the issue on Wednesday and said the United States should never have been in the Middle East in the first place. I hope we can turn the fight against ISIS over to Turkey.

The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria called up civilians on Wednesday to defend the region against a feared Turkish assault, believed to be imminent.

Matjila also expressed hope that the Security Council would meet soon to discuss the situation in Syria.

There has been no public support from Turkey's Western allies for its plan to settle 2 million Syrians - more than half of the refugees it now hosts - in northeast Syria. "Our message to worldwide community is clear".

Erdogan's communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey had no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize the threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local people from what he called "the yoke of armed thugs". But he warned the military action would not lead to a "good result", saying a political solution was the only way to end the Syrian conflict.

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