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Turkey's military operation in Syria: The latest updates

Turkey's military operation in Syria: The latest updates

Heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses ahead with its military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, now in its seventh day, Al Jazeera reported. 
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a "safe zone" to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the area, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.
US senator to introduce Turkey sanctions bill
Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said he will introduce a bill on Thursday sanctioning Turkey for its offensive.
"I will be introducing sanctions against Turkey Thursday and I do appreciate what the (Trump) administration has done against Turkey through executive action but more to follow," the Reuters news agency quoted Graham as telling reporters.
Erdogan rules out ceasefire
Erdogan said he told US President Donald Trump Turkey would never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported.
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said talks with Washington and Moscow on Syria's Kobane and Manbij towns continued, and added it was "not negative" for the Syrian army to enter Manbij as long as fighters in the area were cleared.
He also said he had told the US president that Turkey would "not negotiate with a terrorist organisation" in response to Trump's mediation offer.
US's Pence and Pompeo to visit Ankara
US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Ankara on Wednesday to press Turkey to halt its offensive, the White House said in a statement.
Pence will meet with Erdogan during the visit.
"Vice President Pence will reiterate President Trump's commitment to maintain punishing economic sanctions on Turkey until a resolution is reached," the statement said.
Kremlin envoy says Turkish military must not stay in Syria
Russia's presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey has no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently.
Speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi about the Turkish military operation, Lavrentiev said that, according to earlier agreements, the Turkish military can only cross into Syria and go 5-10kms (3-6 miles) into its territory.
SDF battles to defend Ras al-Ain
Kurdish fighters battled to defend the key northeastern Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain from Turkish-backed forces as Russia seized on a US withdrawal to move its troops into new areas in the region.
The SDF were mounting a desperate rearguard of the town using tunnels, berms and trenches, the AFP news agency reported.
An AFP correspondent in the area said clashes around the town continued despite Ankara's repeated claims it had captured the area, while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Kurdish fighters had launched "a large counterattack against Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies near Ras al-Ain".
New front in Syria's war: Why Manbij matters
As Turkey presses ahead with its offensive, the strategic city of Manbij has become a potential flashpoint between its allied forces and the Syrian army.
French foreign minister calls for meeting of coalition against ISIL
Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's foreign minister, called for a meeting of the international coalition against ISIL to discuss the situation in northeastern Syria.
Speaking at the National Assembly, Le Drian acknowledged there was "some trouble" in the relationship between the European Union and the US. "That is why the coalition needs to meet," he said.
He also called on both the US and Turkey to outline to allies how they intend to keep fighting ISIL.
Turkey to continue push 'with or without world support'
Turkey vowed to pursue its Syria offensive and slammed a "dirty deal" between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and Kurdish forces after the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria.
"We will continue to combat all terrorist groups, including Daesh [ISIL], whether or not the world agrees to support our efforts," Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan's communications director, told AFP.
UK and NATO say Turkish operation must 'end'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed Turkey's military operation needed to end, a spokeswoman for Johnson's office said.
"The Prime Minister and Secretary General both expressed their deep concern at the situation in northern Syria," the spokeswoman said in a statement after the pair met in London.
China urges Turkey to 'stop military action' in Syria
China called on Turkey to stop its military action in northern Syria and "return to the correct way of political resolution".

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