Civilians flee with their belongings amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

Turkish forces began a ground offensive in northeastern Syria hours after fighter jets bombarded the border region as Ankara finally unleashed a long-threatened assault on the Kurdish-held territory.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Turkey‘s defence ministry said troops had crossed into bordering Syria east of the Euphrates River alongside allied Syrian rebel forces.

The ground push came hours after aerial and artillery bombardment, with the Turkish military saying it had hit 181 “terrorist positions”.

Announcing the operation on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara’s goal was to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border and to bring peace to

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