Turkey launches ground offensive in northern Syria

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Turkey launches ground offensive in northern Syria

Turkey has launched a ground offensive in northern Syria, hours after its warplanes and artillery began hitting territory held by Kurdish-led forces.

Turkish troops and Syrian rebel allies entered the area “east of the Euphrates”, Turkish officials said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was to create a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will also house Syrian refugees.

Kurdish-led forces who were key US allies had vowed to resist.

The Kurds – who helped defeat the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria – guard thousands of IS fighters and their relatives in prisons and camps in areas under their control and it is unclear whether those held will continue to be safely detained if ground battles break out.

The offensive was launched just days after President Donald Trump withdrew US troops from the border area, a decision that was widely condemned at home and abroad.

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