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NATO’s second-largest army prepared to roll into northern Syria today with its jihadist allies ahead of what has been described as an “ethnic cleansing” operation against Kurds.
Turkish forces had been prepared for a ground invasion since the US withdrew troops from the area on Monday, despite warnings of a genocide and the resurgence of Isis.
Turkish government spokesman Fahrettin Altun said: “The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly.
“YPG militants have two options: They can defect or we will have to stop them from disrupting our counter-Isis efforts.”
Early this morning sources inside Turkey told the Star that lorry-loads of machine guns were being sent to the border.
It is believed that they were destined for fighters in the FSA — an alliance of former al-Qaida and Isis militants.
Turkey has long been accused of supporting jihadists both inside the country and in northern Syria, where former Isis fighters are heading up Turkish controlled battalions as part of its occupation of Afrin.
Shelling of Kurdish towns and villages across the border began today with footage of residents fleeing Tell Abyad area for their lives as Turkish forces prepared for their ground invasion.
Earlier this morning heavy artillery was seen rumbling down a major road into the border town of Akcakale. It is known as the jihadi highway with the town a notorious recruitment centre for global jihadism.
Sources told the Star that phone lines were cut on the Turkish side of the border leaving people unable to contact their loved ones.
A group of doctors from the leftist union Turkish Medical Association have not been heard from for days.
They were mobilised there by the state around two-weeks ago with no reason given.
It is believed this was part of the planning of the military invasion, with Turkey supplying medical support to jihadists from the Free Syrian Army.
Last year 11 members of its executive committee were detained on terrorism charges for speaking out against Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of northern Syria.
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was the only group in Turkey’s parliament to oppose Ankara’s war.
HDP MP for Ankara Filiz Keresrecioglu told the Star: “Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Ankara suicide bombing. This operation is paving the way for more of these massacres.”
At least 109 people were killed by jihadist bombers at a peace rally there four years ago. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of ordering the attack by European intelligence reports.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he was “worried” by Turkey’s actions while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for restraint and an end to operations.
But HDP Ankara co-chair Zeyno Bayramoglu told the Star that condemnation was not enough and said world powers must do more, including closing their airfields.
“There are no terrorists there. All the terrorists are locked up and about to be freed.”
As the Star went to press jihadists in the al-Hol camp had overpowered guards during rioting.
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