2nd LD-Writethru: Turkish president announces launch of Operation Peace Spring into northern Syria

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ANKARA, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday that Turkey has launched Operation Peace Spring into northern Syria.

"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched Operation Peace Spring against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party)/YPG (People's Protection Units) and Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists in northern Syria," Erdogan tweeted.

"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area," he said.

"Operation Peace Spring will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. We will preserve Syria's territorial integrity and liberate local communities from terrorists," he added.

Turkish military has hit targets in Ras al-Ayn town across the Turkish border in Kurdish-controlled part of northern Syria, local TV footage showed.

The footage showed the explosions in the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn area and Turkish warplanes in the area. Turkey has initially launched an aerial campaign into the area, a Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Turkish warplanes struck its region in the northeast. "Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.

The YPG, which controls the east of the Euphrates, was a key partner of the United States in the fight against the IS, but Ankara considers it as a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed PKK in Syria.

Last Sunday, the White House said it will not support or be involved in the Turkish operation in northern Syria and will withdraw its troops from "the immediate area." The move was widely considered as "giving a green light" to a Turkish incursion into Syria. Enditem

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