Turkish military advance against fighters in northern Syria, launching airstrikes and unleashing artillery shelling on Syrian towns, according to Turkey's defense ministry.
There were heavy clashes Thursday in Syrian border villages between advancing Turkish forces and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) soldiers, in the second day of a Turkish offensive in northern Syria.
According to an SDF spokesperson, the attacks are in the Ras al-Ain area. Our forces "confronted a field incursion attempt by the Turkish occupation army on the axis of Tal Halaf and Aluk," the SDF said in a statement
"Fierce clashes are continuing in the villages that [Turkish forces] are trying to enter," said Marvan Qamishlo, an SDF media official.
Kurdish-led authorities said Turkey shelled part of a prison in Syria's Qamishli, where a large number of Islamic State militants were held.
Turkey said its offensive was advancing as planned. It claimed its military hit 181 targets so far with airstrikes and artillery.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Turkish Defence Ministry stated it was targetting shelters, positions, weapons, tools and equipment in addition to what it called "PKK / PYD-YPG and DAESH terrorists," referring to groups of Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants.
"Our heroic commandos taking part in Operation Peace Spring are continuing to advance east of the Euphrates," the Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter. "The designated targets were seized," it said in a later statement.
The Turkish Defense Ministry also released footage of its forces advancing through the night and firing on unseen enemies.
On Wednesday, Turkey bombarded targets in Kurdish-controlled areas to prepare for a Turkish ground offensive.
According to reports, Turkish forces attempted a ground assault on the border town of Tal Abyad on Wednesday but the SDF stated they defended successfully against the attack.
Governments condemn the Turkish offensive
International governments have spoken out against the offensive which began on Wednesday, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday to discuss Syria.
In Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday that the offensive was "unacceptable" and called for an immediate end to the fighting. Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said Turkey's actions would "aggravate" the already complex crisis in Syria.
China said that Syrian sovereignty "must be respected."
According to the Russian news agency RIA, Russia plans to push for dialogue between the Syrian and Turkish governments.
The offensive began after the US announced it would withdraw its troops from the region, where they had been working with the Kurdish to combat IS.
kmm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)