Ground forces advancing in northern Syria, says Turkey

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border

After launching the assault with air strikes and intense artillery fire on Wednesday, the Turkish army and its Syrian proxies crossed the border into Kurdish-controlled areas.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 10 rejected worldwide criticism of the military operation east of the Euphrates River, reiterating that the offensive was aimed at "eliminating terror" along Turkey's borders.

The Kurdish-led SDF have spent years expanding its control across northern and eastern Syria, helped by the USA -led coalition against ISIS.

The Kurds, who have been America's only allies in Syria fighting ISIS, stopped on Thursday all their operations against the extremists in order to focus on fighting advancing Turkish troops, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

At least 23 fighters with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and eight civilians, two them SDF administrators, have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The SNA forces - composed of various opposition groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad regime of Syria - entered the areas occupied by the YPG/PKK terrorists as part of the Turkey's fresh anti-terror operation.

The visit by NATO's chief to Turkey will include meetings with the president and foreign minister, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The Sultan Murad Division was established in 2013.

There has also been no public support from Turkey's Western allies for its plan to resettle two million Syrians in northeast Syria.

The Ahrar al-Sharqiya group, founded in 2016, comprises mostly of fighters from the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor.

One major concern for the worldwide community is the fate of thousands of suspected IS prisoners, including many foreign nationals, being guarded by Kurdish-led forces in the region.

Turkey's foreign minister said Turkish troops intend to move some 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep into northern Syria and that its operation will last until all "terrorists are neutralized", a reference to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

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"Empty words of a disgraced politician looking at many years in prison on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges", Altun said.

"It's not clear what will happen to them, but unfortunately that may be the beginnings of the next generation of fighters". SDF has not indicated whether all of its forces would participate in defending the region against the Turkish incursion.

Ankara brands the YPG militia as terrorists due to their ties to militants who have waged an insurgency in Turkey.

Kurdish leaders accuse the United States of stabbing them in the back.

In the build-up to the offensive, Syria had said it was determined to confront any Turkish aggression.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union - has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

"Children in Syria who have fled Isis-held areas are innocent and swept up in horrific events far beyond their control".

The SNA was founded this month after a merger among several Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups, Turkish and Syrian media said.

"Turkey has founded the SNA to present it as a disciplined force after major abuses they committed in areas such as Afrin", analyst Kinno said.

The Turkish invasion is widely condemned around the world.

United Nations organizations and human rights groups have often said that rebel forces have carried out systematic violations against Kurdish civilians in Afrin.

Broadly, there are fears the incursion could inflame further conflicts in Syria and the region, potentially allowing for a revival of ISIS, as well as another surge of Syrian refugees.

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