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Turkey begins military offensive in Syria: Live updates

A photo taken from Turkey's Sanliurfa province shows smoke rising over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn.
A photo taken from Turkey’s Sanliurfa province shows smoke rising over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn.

It is absolute gridlock here in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey, as people try to flee to safety with little idea of what the Turkish military has in store for them.

For civilians living in this Kurdish stronghold, it’s their worst nightmare playing out before their eyes.

There was a hope up until the last minute that perhaps the US would stand in support of its Kurdish allies and prevent this incursion from happening.

But now there is widespread fear of what Turkey — which views the YPG-controlled zone as an existential threat — will do next.

So far, Turkish airstrikes have largely hit Kurdish military targets, but once you have mortars flying, there is always a potential for civilian casualties. We witnessed what appeared to be six different strikes and a fire at what locals told us was a cotton factory.

Chaotic scenes are unfolding now, with roads choked with hundreds of fleeing families, motorcycles piled with five to six people, mattresses strapped to cars. Thick black smoke can be seen rising from a number of different areas.

People don’t know where they will go, where they will sleep tonight, or what they can expect from this Turkish operation.

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