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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that a Turkish military operation into Syria has started. Erdogan said on his official Twitter account Wednesday that the operation, named “Peace Spring,” has begun. He said the operation aims to eradicate “the threat of terror” against Turkey. Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkish jets had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border from Turkey. Turkey had long threatened an attack on the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers to terrorists and an extension of Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from Syria and hand control to Turkey A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria says Turkish warplanes have started targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria. Mustafa Bali of the Syrian Democratic Forces says the airstrikes have caused “a huge panic among people of the region.” Bali’s tweet on Wednesday afternoon came shortly after Turkish President Erdogan announced in tweet that Turkish offensive into northeast Syria has started. Turkey has been massing troops for days in preparation for an attack against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria that Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, citing a focus on the “BIG PICTURE!” Trump tweets Wednesday that “GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!” Trump says “stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!” and he is “slowly & carefully” bringing U.S. troops home. But the decision to leave Syrian Kurds _ who supported the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State militants _ vulnerable to a military onslaught from Turkey has been condemned by some of Trump’s staunchest Republican allies. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that such a move would be Trump’s “biggest mistake” as president.