Turkey launches military offensive in Syria

By Fernando Alfonso III and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 9:19 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019
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10:10 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Netanyahu: “Israel strongly condemns Turkish invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria”

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out sharply against Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria, and said Israel stands ready to give humanitarian aid to the “gallant Kurdish people.”

“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” Netanyahu said, speaking on the issue for the first time since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria.

The Israeli premier, who is one of the few world leaders to openly call for the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, did not specify how Israel would provide humanitarian aid. Israel has no diplomatic relations with Iraq or Syria, while relations with Turkey have been strained for several years. 

In breaking his silence, Netanyahu made no specific mention of Trump, a close ally of the Israeli PM.

9:41 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

UK Foreign Secretary calls for restraint amid Turkish military operation in northern Syria

From CNN's Sarah Dean

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Thursday that he had spoken to his Turkish equivalent, Mevlut Cavusoglu, of the UK's disappointment over Turkey's offensive in Syria.

In a post on Twitter, Raab said the military operation risks "greater humanitarian suffering and undermines the focus on countering Daesh [ISIS]."

9:11 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Moscow intends to seek dialogue between Turkey and Syria

From CNN's Darya Tarasova in Moscow

File photograph of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Baghdad on October 7.
File photograph of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Baghdad on October 7. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Moscow will seek to promote discussion between Damascus and Ankara, as well as between Syrian authorities and Kurdish organizations, state news agency TASS reported.

"Now we will seek the need to establish a dialogue between Turkey and Syria. We have reason to believe that it is in the interests of both parties. At the same time, we will negotiate that nevertheless the contacts will be established between Damascus and Kurdish organizations that reject extremism and terrorist methods activities," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said the situation in northern Syria could be resolved on the basis of current agreements.

“From the very beginning of the crisis in Syria, we have always drawn attention to the fact that we understand the Turkish Republic’s legitimate concerns about the security of its borders. At the same time, we have strongly emphasized the need to resolve these concerns within the framework of the agreements that exist between Damascus and Ankara, the so-called 1998 Adan Agreement," Lavrov said, according to TASS.

He continued, "Unfortunately, the effective implementation of this agreement, which involved joint efforts to curb terrorist attacks on the border between Turkey and Syria, was complicated by the Americans and their coalition on the east bank of the Euphrates."

8:38 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Mortar rounds have landed inside Turkey

From CNN’s Murat Baykara

The Turkish border town of Akcakale was hit by several mortar rounds and wounded several people on Thursday, Turkish officials told CNN. 

Officials said several mortars landed in the garden between the governor’s office and the riot police headquarters. A public worker who was inside the building said two mortars landed by the entrance to the governor’s office and at least six civilians were injured. 

"That of course will be deeply unwelcome news for those living here, who have seen the offensive get underway and wondered quite what the Syrian Kurdish response would be, if indeed those mortar shells were fired by the Syrian Kurds, which seems like the most likely conclusion," said CNN's Nick Paton Walsh from the Turkish-Syrian border.

7:47 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Erdogan threatens to send 3.6 million refugees to Europe

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce, Hamdi Alkhshali and Lauren Said-Moorhouse

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a stern warning to Europeans on Thursday.

In a defiant address to lawmakers from his party just moments ago, the Turkish President said he would continue the operation in northern Syria, adding that if Europe criticizes his military moves, he would open the flood gates and allow 3.6 million Syrian refugees to travel onwards. 

Erdogan also claimed that so far 109 "terrorists" have been neutralized in northern Syria since "Operation Peace Spring" began Wednesday.

CNN's Clarissa Ward, reporting from northern Syria, said: "He is making it very, very clear that he is not going to tolerate any criticism from the international community despite the bloodshed, and despite real questions about where this military operation ends and how many more civilians will die."

7:38 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Three civilians have been killed in northern Syria, SDF says

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

The Turkish Army struck a civilian convoy in the town of Tal Abyad in northern Syria on Thursday, leaving at least three civilians dead and others wounded, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has said in a tweet.

Mustafa Bali, the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces media office, wrote: “A civilian convoy was hit by Turkish army en route to Til Abyad. 3 civilians were killed and many others were wounded acc. to initial reports.”

Earlier, the SDF reported eight were killed on Wednesday on the first day of the Turkish military operation.

6:55 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

US official: Turkish operation may end up wider in scope

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on the Turkish-Syrian border

A US official tells CNN their assessment is that Turkey aims to clear a substantial stretch of the Syria border area. This would initially at least stretch between the towns of Ras Al Ain and Tal Abyad, about five miles deep, an area initially covered by the US-Turkish security mechanism that has since been discarded.

The official added the operation may end up wider in scope and encompass the “whole stretch” of the border.

Turkey has not stated its immediate goals or territorial objectives in this phase of the operation. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown the UNGA a map showing ambitions to take much of the Turkish border with Syria, and extend 18 miles deep into it.

6:01 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Kurds say they have scuppered a ground incursion attempt

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Thursday that they had been able to repel a ground incursion attempt by the "Turkish Occupation Army" in the hub of Tal Halaf, and the town of Sluk in northeastern Syria.

"Our forces have foiled the infiltration attempts of Turkish Occupation Army," the SDF said in a post on their press page.

5:07 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Turkey hails what it says is successful operation

The Turkish Defense Ministry says operations in northern Syria are continuing "successfully" Thursday.

"Peace Spring Operation was successfully carried out by air and land during the night. The targets set were achieved. Operation continues successfully as planned," the Turkish Ministry of Defense said in a post on Twitter Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, a convoy of Turkish and Free Syrian Army forces was seen heading towards Syria.

A CNN team on Turkey-Syria border heard and witnessed a number of explosions in the Syrian territory on the outskirts of the town of Tal Abyad. The cause of the explosion was unclear.