The planned military campaign came after the US abruptly pulled its forces out of the region, leaving its longtime Kurdish allies there vulnerable to the Turkish offensive.
The developments led the Kurds to reach out to the Damascus government for support, reaching an agreement with Syrian troops to enter towns near the border with Turkey, Presstv Reported.
Here are the latest updates on Ankara's military incursion on Tuesday:
Syrian troops enter Manbij
Syria’s Ikhbariya state TV reported that Syrian government troops have deployed inside the northern city of Manbij in Aleppo Province.
The broadcast included footage of Manbij residents celebrating the arrival of Syrian forces.
Kurds resist invasion near Ras al-Ain
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of mainly Kurdish militants, had put up stiff resistance around the northeastern city of Ras al-Ain in Hasakeh Province.
The SDF “launched a major counterattack overnight against Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies near Ras al-Ain,” the UK-based monitoring group said.
The Kurdish militants, it added, have managed to hold off Turkish efforts to seize the city due to “fortifications, tunnel networks and a continuous supply of reinforcements.”
Ankara claimed earlier that its forces had captured Ras al-Ain from Kurdish militants.
Kurds report halt in intl. aid
The self-proclaimed Kurdish authority in northeastern Syria complained that the Turkish invasion has forced all international humanitarian organizations out of the region.
“The humanitarian plight of the displaced in areas targeted by the aggression has worsened with all humanitarian aid being cut and all international organizations ceasing their activities,” it said in a statement.
The Kurdish authority also estimated that the Turkish campaign has displaced more than 275,000 people, including over 70,000 children.
Qatar takes Turkey’s side
Qatar defended Turkey’s Syria operation, saying Ankara has only acted against a threat.
Speaking at a Global Security Forum meeting in Doha, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said Ankara had been forced to respond to an “imminent threat for Turkish security,” stressing, “We can’t put all the blame on Turkey.”
“In the beginning (Turkey) said ‘don’t support these groups,’” he said, referring to US-backed YPG militants. “Nobody listened. They have been trying to solve this issue now for more than a year with the United States, to create a safe zone to get the threat away from their border.”
“(Turkey) couldn’t reach any solution with the US, they couldn’t handle this threat until it became explosive for them,” the top Qatari diplomat added.
UN demands probe into executions
The UN human rights office said Turkey could be “deemed responsible” for summary executions by an affiliated militant outfit of several Kurdish militants and a politician in Syria.
Speaking at a briefing in Geneva, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville referred to footage of the killings, apparently carried out by Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sharqiya militants near Manbij.
“Turkey could be deemed as a state responsible for violations by their affiliated groups as long as Turkey exercises effective control of these groups or the operations in the course of which those violations occurred,” Colville said. “We urge Turkish authorities immediately to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation.”
Stop Syria incursion: China to Turkey
Meanwhile, China has urged Turkey to stop its military action and respect Syria’s sovereignty.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned that the operation “may result in terrorists fleeing out” and the Daesh terrorist group “to stage a comeback.”
“The sovereignty, independence, unification, and territorial integrity of Syria should be respected and upheld,” Geng said. “We call on Turkey to stop military action, and return to the correct way of political resolution.”
Turkey vows to continue operation until ‘objectives achieved’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that the Syria operation would not stop until “our objectives have been achieved.”
“God willing, we will quickly secure the region stretching from Manbij to our border with Iraq and ensure that, in the first stage, one million, and then two million Syrian refugees return to their homes of their own free will,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Baku.
He further said that 1,000 square-kilometers of Syrian territory had so far been “liberated from the separatist terrorist organization.”