People stand together as they flee Ras al Ain town, Syria, Oct. 9, 2019, during an offensive by Turkish troops. National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin and VOA's Kurdish and Turkish Services contributed to this report.
Turkey has begun a long-planned military operation in northeastern Syria to take out Kurdish forces branded by Ankara as terrorists, but viewed by much of the West as key partners in the fight against Islamic State.
Hours after airstrikes in the region, the second phase of Turkey's assault began, as Turkish ground troops crossed the border into northeast Syria, the Turkish Defense Ministry said late Wednesday local time. The Ankara Defense Ministry tweeted, "Turkish armed forces hit 181 targets" in Syria. It did not provide any other details.
However, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Mustefa Bali announced on Twitter, "Ground attack by Turkish forces has been repelled by SDF fighters" in the Tal Abyad region. "No advance as of now." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday the start of the operation, called "Peace Spring" and said it was aimed at eradicating "the threat of terror'' against Turkey.
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