The latest: Monitor says at least 1 dead Kurdish fighter

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Events following President Donald Trump's decision to abandon Syrian Kurdish fighters before the expected Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria (local at all times): 7:05 p.m. A Syrian war monitor and a Kurdish activist collective say that the Turkish bombing of northern Syria has killed at least one member of the Kurd-led force. The Syrian observatory of Human Rights based in Great Britain said that a fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Kurds and backed by the United States was killed and six others were injured. The Rojava media center, an activist collective in northeastern Syria confirmed that an SDF fighter was killed in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn. Turkey began a military operation on Wednesday against Kurdish fighters attacking areas in northeastern Syria with air strikes and artillery bombardments. The SDF said in a statement that Turkish airstrikes reached a depth of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border. He said 16 SDF posts were attacked. ___ 6:20 p.m. Germany's Foreign Minister is condemning Turkey's offensive in northern Syria and asked Ankara to end the military action, saying it threatened a new humanitarian catastrophe and greater displacement of people. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement Wednesday that we condemn the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria in the strongest possible terms. He said Turkey was at risk of further destabilizing the region and strengthening the IS, referring to the so-called Islamic State group. Maas said Syria needed stability after eight years of war and that the first step should be to convene a constitutional committee in the near future: We call on Turkey to end its offensive and pursue its security interests peacefully. ____ 6:15 pm The NATO secretary general urges Turkey not to further destabilize the region through its military action in northern Syria. Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Rome that Turkey, a NATO ally, has legitimate security concerns, has suffered horrific terrorist attacks and has welcomed thousands of refugees. He said that NATO has been informed about Turkey's ongoing operation in northern Syria. He added that it is important to avoid actions that can further destabilize the region, increase tensions and cause more human suffering. He said that Turkey should act in moderation and that any action should be proportionate. Stoltenberg will discuss military action with the leader of Turkey on Friday in Istanbul. ___ 6 p.m. Turkey's state news agency says two mortar grenades have been fired at a Turkish city, on the border with Syria. No one was injured in the attack. The Anadolu Agency said the projectiles arrived in the city of Ceylanpinar on Wednesday. They were fired from the Syrian Kurdish city of Ras al-Ayn, Anadolu reported, shortly after Turkey launched a military operation with the aim of moving Syrian Kurdish forces away from the border with Turkey. Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities declared an area along the Turkish-Syrian border beyond the reach of civilians. ___ 5:35 p.m. Turkey's state news agency says Turkish artillery units are bombing suspicious targets of Syrian Kurdish forces across the border in the Syrian city of Tal Abyad. The Anadolu Agency said howitzers hit the city on Wednesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of a Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. The Turkish Ministry of Defense said the offensive began at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT). Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish planes were carrying out air strikes against Syrian Kurdish positions in the city of Tal Abyad and showed smoke coming out of selected areas. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, including the US ambassador David Satterfield, were being informed about the operation. ___ 5:25 p.m. A senior European Union official is asking Turkey to stop its military operation in northern Syria and warns that the EU will not pay to help Ankara establish a safe area there. Speaking to EU lawmakers on Wednesday, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: I ask Turkey, as well as the other actors, to act in moderation and stop operations, as we are talking about, in progress. While acknowledging that Turkey has security concerns on its border with Syria, Juncker says that if the Turkish plan involves the creation of a so-called safe zone, do not expect the European Union to pay for any of that. The EU is paying Turkey 6 billion euros ($ 6.6 billion) to help the country deal with almost 4 million Syrian refugees in its territory in exchange for stopping migrants heading to Europe. But Ankara is looking for more money amid concerns that thousands of Syrians may soon cross their border. ___ 4:35 p.m. A spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish force in northern Syria says Turkish fighter jets have begun attacking civilian areas in northern Syria. Mustafa Bali of the Syrian Democratic Forces says that the airstrikes have caused a great panic among the people of the region. The Bali tweet on Wednesday afternoon came shortly after Turkish President Erdogan announced in a tweet that a Turkish military offensive had begun in northeastern Syria. Turkey has been accumulating troops for days in preparation for an attack against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria that Ankara considers a terrorist organization. ___ 4:30 pm. A US official says Turkish airstrikes in northeastern Syria are not coordinated with the US military and are considered dangerous for coalition forces and civilians in the area. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to inform journalists. Turkish President Erdogan announced Wednesday that air strikes began in Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria. - By Sarah El Deeb. ___ 4:25 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that he has started a Turkish military operation in Syria. Erdogan said in his official Twitter account on Wednesday that the operation, called Peace Spring, has begun. He said the operation aims to eradicate the threat of terror against Turkey. Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish planes had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border with Turkey. Turkey had long threatened an attack against Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists and an extension of Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from Syria and hand over control to Turkey ___ 4:10 p.m. President Donald Trump is defending his decision to withdraw US troops from northeastern Syria, citing a focus on the GREAT IMAGE! Trump tweeted Wednesday that GOING TO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY! Trump says Stupid endless wars, for us, they are ending! and he is slowly and carefully taking American troops home. But the decision to leave Syrian Kurds, who supported the United States in the fight against Islamic State militants, vulnerable to a military attack in Turkey, has been condemned by some of Trump's most staunch Republican allies. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox Friends on Wednesday that the move would be Trump's biggest mistake as president. ___ 3:35 p.m. The US-backed Syrian Kurdish group is asking Moscow to negotiate talks with the Syrian government in Damascus, in light of the planned military invasion of Turkey in northeastern Syria. The Syrian Kurdish-led administration said in a statement Wednesday that it is responding positively to the Moscow calls that encourage the Kurds and the Syrian government to resolve their dispute through talks. A Syrian Kurdish official also says they have contacted Damascus and other parties before the planned Turkish operation. The official declined to provide details and said that an agreement has not yet been reached. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with journalists. The call to talks with Damascus reflects the desperate reach of the Kurdish forces after a partial setback of the United States, leaving them exposed to the Turkish attack. —Sarah El Deeb in Beirut; ___ 3:05 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed his plans for a raid in northeastern Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan's office said the Turkish leader told his Russian counterpart in a phone call on Wednesday that Ankara's planned military action in the region east of the Euphrates River will contribute to peace and stability and also pave the way for a political process in Syria. Erdogan added that Ankara attached importance to the protection of the rights and interests of the Syrian people and that Turkey appreciated Russia's constructive attitude in the matter. ___ 2:40 p.m. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has condemned Turkey's plans to invade northeastern Syria, calling it a flagrant violation of international law and promising to repel the incursion with all means. Wednesday's ministry statement blamed some Kurdish groups for what is happening, saying they were used as a tool to help an alleged American project. He said Syria is ready to welcome its lost children if they return to their right mind, referring to the United States. Kurdish fighters The ministry says that the announcements surrounding the planned invasion reflect the hostile behavior of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ankara's expansionist ambitions in Syria. Turkey has been concentrating troops along its border with Syria before an imminent military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters. ___ 2:30 pm. Turkey's Foreign Minister says his country will inform Syria, the United Nations and others about a planned Turkish raid in northern Syria. Mevlut Cavusoglu states that the planned incursion in the region is in line with international laws on Turkey's right to defend itself. He spoke during a visit to Algeria on Wednesday. Cavusoglu says Ankara will provide information to the United States and other countries, including Syria, in accordance with international laws. He added that Turkey's only objective is terrorists in northeastern Syria and that the raid would be Ankara's way of contributing to Syria's border integrity. Expectations of a Turkish invasion rose after President Donald Trump announced abruptly on Sunday that US troops would withdraw before a Turkish push. ___ 2:25 p.m. A spokesman for Syrian Kurdish-led fighters says all options are open if Turkey invades northeast Syria. Kino Gabriel, spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, said Wednesday that Kurdish-led fighters will use all their capabilities to defend themselves. He says that Kurdish forces are also leaving the door open for cooperation with the Syrian government or other regional powers to defend the area. He did not give more details. Gabriel says that the Syrian forces led by the Kurds control approximately 30% of Syria. He says there are currently no contacts with the government side. Syrian troops, backed by Russia and Iran, have a presence in the south and west of the Kurdish-controlled territories. ___ 1 pm. The head of the Arab League says he is alarmed by Turkey's planned military offensive in northeastern Syria, against Syrian Kurdish fighters there. Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement Wednesday that such an invasion would be a flagrant violation of Syria's sovereignty and threatens Syria's integrity. He added that Turkey's planned incursion also threatens to inflame more conflicts in eastern and northern Syria, and could allow the revival of the Islamic State group. Turkey has been preparing for an attack against Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom Ankara considers allied terrorists with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. This happened after President Donald Trump said earlier this week that the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have fought alongside the Americans for years. ___1 2:30 pm. Turkey's defense minister says preparations for a planned Turkish raid in Syria continue. Hulusi Akar made the comments on Wednesday, days after President Donald Trump abruptly announced that US troops would depart to allow a Turkish push in northeastern Syria. Turkey has long threatened an attack against Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom Ankara considers allied terrorists with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. Akar told the state agency Anadolu: Our efforts regarding the offensive continue, deployment, preparations continue. ___ 11:20 a.m. Iranian state television says the Islamic Republic launched a surprise military drill with the army's special operations forces near the country's border with Turkey. The exercise occurs amid Iran's opposition to the planned invasion of Turkey from northern Syria against Syrian Kurdish fighters there. The Syrian Kurds were allies of the United States in the war against the Islamic State group. The sudden Iranian exercise was announced Wednesday. The television report says he is supervised by Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, head of the Iranian army. However, state television did not mention the expected Turkish operation nor gave details on the number of troops that participated in the drill in Qushchi, in the western Azerbaijan province of Iran. The area is about 620 kilometers, or 385 miles, northwest of Tehran. Iran and Russia are key allies of the long-fought government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Both have troops on the ground in Syria. While they may publicly oppose a Turkish incursion into Syria, they probably do not mind an operation that diminishes Kurdish forces. ___ 11:10 a.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is accusing the United States of playing very dangerous games with the Syrian Kurds, whose fighters were the main US allies in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria. Lavrov said during a visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday that the United States first supported the near-Syrian Kurdish state in northeastern Syria and is now withdrawing its support. He says that such a reckless attitude towards this sensitive issue can set the entire region on fire, and we have to avoid it at all costs. Russian news agencies carried Lavrov's comments and reported that Moscow has communicated that position to Washington. Lavrov did not directly address the issue of the early invasion of Turkey in northeastern Syria, but said Moscow is encouraging the Kurds and the Syrian government to resolve their dispute through talks. The top Russian diplomat stressed that both Damascus and the Syrian Kurds have said they are open to dialogue, and we will do everything we can to help start discussions on this issue. ___ 10:30 a.m. The Kurdish-led civil administration in northeastern Syria issued a call for general mobilization along the border with Turkey, while Ankara concentrates troops before an imminent invasion. The local authority, known as the Autonomous Administration of the North and East of Syria, says: We call on our people, of all ethnic groups, to move to areas near the border with Turkey to carry out acts of resistance during This delicate historical time. He also asked the international community to fulfill his responsibilities, since a humanitarian catastrophe could happen to our people in northeastern Syria. Turkey has been preparing for an attack against Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom Ankara considers allied terrorists with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. President Donald Trump announced abruptly on Sunday that US troops would withdraw before the Turkish momentum, a change in American politics that essentially abandoned Syrian Kurds, former US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. ___ 9:40 a.m. A senior Turkish official says Turkey's army will shortly cross into Syria along with allied Syrian rebel forces after President Donald Trump announced that US troops would withdraw from the area. Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for the Turkish presidency, asked the international community in a Washington Post opinion article on Wednesday to join behind Ankara. Altun says Turkey seeks to neutralize Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and free the local population from the yoke of armed thugs. He wrote: The Turkish army, along with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly. Turkey considers Syrian Kurdish fighters, allied with US forces in the fight against IS, as terrorists linked to illegal Kurdish rebels within Turkey. ___ 09:30 am A US-backed force and two Syrian activist groups say Islamic State militants have carried out an attack in the city of Raqqa, in northern Syria. The attack on early Wednesday was aimed at a post of the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the US-backed Kurds in Raqqa, which was once the de facto capital of the extremists. The attack comes when Turkey is expected to initiate an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. Kurdish fighters say IS launched three suicide attacks against their positions in Raqqa. There was no news about victims. Raqqa is being killed in silence, an activist collective, reported an exchange of gunfire and an explosion. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory, based in Great Britain, a war watch group, says the attack involved two Islamic State fighters who participated in a shooting before it broke out. This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)

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