Turkish offensive in Syria a success, will go on, leaders say

Oct. 10 (UPI) — A day after it launched a military operation into northern Syria to clear the region near its border of Kurdish forces, Turkey announced Thursday that the plan has so far been a success and will continue.

Ankara, which had planned the incursion for weeks, launched the military action Wednesday.

“Operation Peace Spring was successfully carried out by air and land during the night,” Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense tweeted Thursday. “Operation continues successfully as planned.”

The ministry said the operation was carried out “respectfully” to the territorial integrity of Syria and within the framework of international law.

“Only the [Kurdish] and [Islamic State] terrorists and their shelters, positions, weapons, tools and equipment are targeted for the planning and execution of Operation Peace Spring,” the ministry said.

The Turkish military said Wednesday it had struck 181 targets in its initial attack.

Activist group Rojava Information Center said at least seven civilians, including two children, were killed and 15 were injured in night attacks.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a British-based human rights monitor, said, contrary to Turkey’s claim, that all advancing Turkish ground troops failed to advance and the Syrian Democratic forces and allies thwarted the attack.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office, said it had “repelled” the Turkish army and there was “no advance as of now.”

The number of military casualties was not reported, but SOHR said at least 11 SDF forces and six Turkish-aligned members were killed in the fighting.

The attack came after U.S. President Donald Trump gave tacit approval to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday by removing the remaining U.S. troops from the region. The move has come under heavy bipartisan criticism, seen by many as abandoning a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.

Trump ally and Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, announced a bipartisan outline to impose sanctions against Turkey for the attack, calling it “unlawful” and “unwarranted.”

In a tweet, Graham pleaded with Trump to change his mind.

“America is better than this,” he said. “Please stand up to Turkey, Mr. President.”