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Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkey’s military said it had seized designated targets. There are reports of heavy fighting in the central border region, and seven civilian deaths.

Tens of thousands of people are reported to be leaving their homes.

The assault on Kurdish-led forces, key US allies, follows US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops.

Turkey says it wants to create a “safe zone” on the border for many of the Syrian refugees on its territory.

On Thursday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send the refugees to Europe instead if it characterised the Turkish offensive as an occupation.

Many in the US, including some of Mr Trump’s Republican allies, saw the withdrawal of troops as effectively giving a green light for the Turkish offensive, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday denied that was the case.

But Mr Trump told a news conference the Turks and Kurds had “been fighting each other for centuries”, and said that Kurdish fighters “didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with [the D-Day landings in] Normandy”. Read more

Read also: Explaining the Pelosi-Trump standoff over a full House vote on an impeachment probe

Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.

Turkish forces are stepping up air strikes and a ground offensive, as their incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria enters a second day.