Air strikes reported as Turkey begins operation against Syrian Kurds
Turkey launched air strikes in northern Syria as Erdogan announced his country's operation against Kurdish militants in the area had begun.
"The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army (rebel groups backed by Ankara), just launched #OperationPeaceSpring," Erdogan wrote on Twitter in English, shortly before an explosion was heard near the Turkish border.
An AFP correspondent said a cloud of white smoke rose had risen over the Ras Al-Ain border and that warplanes could be seen flying overhead, while dozens of civilians tried to flee.
Erdogan said the offensive was targeting Kurdish militants and the Islamic State group in northern Syria.
"Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area," he wrote.
Turkey has long been planning military action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria due to their ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
(With news agencies)