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One hundred thousand terrified civilians have fled the Turkish incursion into Syria, it has emerged as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s troops continue to advance — with Ankara claiming it has killed 342 Kurdish fighters

One hundred thousand terrified civilians have fled the Turkish incursion into Syria, it has emerged as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s troops continue to advance — with Ankara claiming it has killed 342 Kurdish fighters.

Air strikes, artillery bombardments and small arms fire raged throughout border settlements along the 75-mile front for a third day, with Foreign Minister Hulusi Akar today announcing Turkey’s forces had ‘neutralised’ hundreds of ‘terrorists.’

The United Nations estimated 100,000 people had fled, piling trucks and cars high with their possessions as shells decimated their hometowns, in a grim echo of how they sought refuge from marauding ISIS fanatics only a few years before.  

France said EU sanctions ‘were on the table’ today, amid widespread international condemnation for the invasion, with Emmanuel Macron warning Turkey risked ‘helping Daesh (ISIS) rebuild a caliphate.’ 

President Donald Trump, who pulled his Kurd-backing forces out of Syria earlier this week, declared last night the US was faced with three options: ‘Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!’  

Trump’s tweet follows backlash from within his own Republican ranks over the perceived betrayal of the Kurds, who were pivotal in defeating ISIS in Syria earlier this year. 

Furthermore, the Kurds have been guarding some 10,000 ISIS prisoners and Russian President Vladimir Putin joined British and US politicians today in expressing fears that they might escape. 

‘I’m not sure whether the Turkish army will be able to take this under control — and how soon,’ Putin said in televised remarks.’This is a real threat to us.’  

Scroll down for video. 

Turkey backed fighters of the Syrian National Army, a rebel Syrian militia which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allied with in his fight against the Kurds, carry light machine guns and bandoliers slung over their shoulders as they rally at the border today

Turkey backed fighters of the Syrian National Army, a rebel Syrian militia which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allied with in his fight against the Kurds, carry light machine guns and bandoliers slung over their shoulders as they rally at the border today

Turkish-backed Syrian forces cross the border into the north of their homeland today as smoke rises in the horizon from one of the shelled border towns

Turkish-backed Syrian forces cross the border into the north of their homeland today as smoke rises in the horizon from one of the shelled border towns

Syrian fighters loyal to Turkey pass through a gap in the border wall on Friday as they prepare to take on Kurdish militias

Syrian fighters loyal to Turkey pass through a gap in the border wall on Friday as they prepare to take on Kurdish militias

An armoured car rounds the border wall as a Turkish-backed soldiers of the Syrian National Army prepare to take the fight to the Kurds on Friday

An armoured car rounds the border wall as a Turkish-backed soldiers of the Syrian National Army prepare to take the fight to the Kurds on Friday

An armoured car heads into battle as it supports ground troops moving over the border into northern Syria today

An armoured car heads into battle as it supports ground troops moving over the border into northern Syria today

A Pro-Turkish Syrian fighter crosses the border backed by his comrades, wielding an AK-57 and a grenade launcher, as he readies for battle

A Pro-Turkish Syrian fighter crosses the border backed by his comrades, wielding an AK-57 and a grenade launcher, as he readies for battle

Syrian forces backed by Erdogan cross the frontier today, the third day of the Turkish offensive against Kurd militias in northern Syria

Syrian forces backed by Erdogan cross the frontier today, the third day of the Turkish offensive against Kurd militias in northern Syria

Pro-Turkish Syrian fighters march on the Turkish side of the border wall as they prepare to battle Kurdish militia over the other side

Pro-Turkish Syrian fighters march on the Turkish side of the border wall as they prepare to battle Kurdish militia over the other side

Clouds of smoke rise from a settlement in northern Syria on Thursday as seen from across the border in Ceylanpinar, in Sanliurfa, Turkey

Clouds of smoke rise from a settlement in northern Syria on Thursday as seen from across the border in Ceylanpinar, in Sanliurfa, Turkey

President Donald Trump, who pulled his Kurd-backing forces out of Syria earlier this week, tweeted last night after facing backlash from within his own ranks

President Donald Trump, who pulled his Kurd-backing forces out of Syria earlier this week, tweeted last night after facing backlash from within his own ranks

Syrian rebels stand on top of an armoured vehicle driving towards the border to cross into Syria, in Ceylanpinar on Friday morning

Syrian rebels stand on top of an armoured vehicle driving towards the border to cross into Syria, in Ceylanpinar on Friday morning

Members of the Syrian National Army, backed by Turkey, smoke morning cigarettes atop an armoured vehicle on Friday as they head towards the front from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar

Members of the Syrian National Army, backed by Turkey, smoke morning cigarettes atop an armoured vehicle on Friday as they head towards the front from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar

Turkey says it intends to create a 'safe zone' over an area about 30 miles deep and 75 miles wide to push Kurdish militia away from its border and eventually allow the repatriation of up to two million Syrian refugees. The area is rich in fertile lands and encompasses oil fields in the far northeast

Turkey says it intends to create a ‘safe zone’ over an area about 30 miles deep and 75 miles wide to push Kurdish militia away from its border and eventually allow the repatriation of up to two million Syrian refugees.The area is rich in fertile lands and encompasses oil fields in the far northeast

Kurdish forces announced camps packed with 20,000 displaced people, including the wives and children of ISIS fighters, were to be evacuated south after they were hit by Turkish shelling.

Meanwhile, at the Al-Hawl camp further south, notorious for housing British ISIS bride Shamima Begum, rioting and escape attempts were reported as news of Erdogan’s offensive reached the facility. 

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'Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,' Erdogan said in a speech to parliament in Ankara on Thursday

‘Hey EU, wake up.I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,’ Erdogan said in a speech to parliament in Ankara on Thursday

Doctors Without Borders said it was forced to shut down a hospital, which served more than 200,000 people, because of the spreading violence.  

Despite the global outrage, Erdogan yesterday threatened Europe he would ‘open the doors’ for 3.6million refugees to flood into the continent if his incursion was defined as an occupation. 

European Council President Donald Tusk responded to the threat today, warning Erdogan the EU would never bow to such a threat.

‘Turkey must understand that our main concern is that their actions may lead to another humanitarian catastrophe,’ Tusk said in Nicosia.’And we will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us. President Erdogan’s threats of yesterday are totally out of place.’ 

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper told Turkey to halt its advance, with the Pentagon warning it could have ‘serious’ and istanbul escort ‘irreparable’ consequences for Ankara.

Esper told his counterpart Akar that the military actions ‘place at risk’ the progress made to defeat ISIS. 

On Thursday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad called the Kurdish-led forces traitors and said they had given Turkey an excuse to violate his country’s national sovereignty.

Maqdad rebuffed suggestions made by the Kurds earlier this week that talks could be re-opened with Damascus, saying these ‘armed groups had betrayed their country and committed crimes against it.

‘We won’t accept any dialogue or talk with those who had become hostages to foreign forces …There won’t be any foothold for the agents of Washington on Syrian territory.’

This afternoon an explosives-laden vehicle detonated and killed at least three civilians and wounded nine more in a busy neighbourhood of Qamishli, a stronghold of the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, SDF officials said.

The attack, which Kurdish officials said caused several casualties, came as Kurdish forces were trying to hold off a massive cross-border assault by Turkey and its proxies.

On Friday morning, Turkish jets and artillery struck around Syria’s Ras al Ain. Gunfire could also be heard inside the town, a Reuters journalist in Ceylanpinar said.   

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