Turkey's planned move to root out Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria, after President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of USA troops there, has sparked fierce debates in Washington and could open a unsafe new front in Syria's eight-year-old war.
The U.S.is tracking people who are being displaced from the Syrian cities of Ras al-Ayn, Tal Abyad, Qamishli and Ain Issa, the official says, reflecting a span of some 140 miles along the north and northeastern border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announcing the start of the action, said the aim was to eliminate what he called a "terror corridor" on Turkey's southern border. It concluded by saying that "removing" IS fighters, weapons and bomb materials "remains a top priority" as the group "continues to plot attacks against innocent civilians and our partners throughout Iraq and northeast Syria".
Donald Trump controversially withdrew U.S. troops ahead of the action but says Turkey may face economic consequences.
Erdogan discussed the incursion by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeastern Syria issued a "general mobilization" call along the Syrian border with Turkey on Wednesday as Ankara poised for an imminent invasion of the area in the latest major escalation in the war-ravaged country.
NATO-ally Turkey has said it intends to create a "safe zone" for the return of millions of refugees to Syria. A USA military official in Syria tells NPR's Tom Bowman that US troops are also near Kobane, but the airstrikes are to the west of where US troops are located.
They said they would hold their erstwhile United States ally and the whole worldwide community responsible for any "humanitarian catastrophe" that unfolds.
US military officials confirmed that they have repositioned about 50 USA special force members, who had been operating along the Turkey-Syria border, out of harm's way.
The SDF, which are led by the Kurdish YPG militia, has long angered the Turkish government and Erdogan.
Kurdish authorities in the town called for protesters to gather at the border later on Wednesday and hoisted flags on tents.
One of the officials said United States training of forces in Syria had also been affected. Later Wednesday, he said he didn't want to be involved in "endless, senseless wars".
Kurdish forces have dug trenches and tunnels in both areas, covering streets with metal canopies to block the cameras of Turkish drones.
Turkey launched its offensive Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in Syria, who have helped the USA against the Islamic State.
Trump has faced a barrage of criticism, including from close allies in Washington, for appearing to leave USA allies to their fate.
Damascus has long viewed Turkey as an occupying power with designs on northern Syria.
"There is massive bipartisan opposition in Congress, which you should see as a red line you should not cross".
"We are also very concerned about what this could potentially mean for the Kurdish people".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, accused the USA of playing "very risky games" with the Syrian Kurds. Lone Kurdish fighters now watch over the vacant facility as they await a fresh Turkish offensive.
Chaos could present Islamic State with an opportunity to stage a revival and the SDF has been conducting operations against IS sleeper cells since capturing its final territorial foothold earlier this year.
The Observatory said the attack involved two IS fighters who engaged in a shootout before blowing themselves up.
"I call on Turkey as well as the other actors to act with restraint and to stop operations already, as we are speaking, under way", Juncker said.