Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Turkey's incursion into northeastern Syria Thursday, vowing to assist the "gallant Kurdish people."
"Israel strongly condemns Turkey's military invasion into Kurdish areas in Syria," Netanyahu said on Twitter, adding that "warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies." According to Netanyahu, "Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people."
In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's communications director Fahrettin Altun tweeted: "Empty words of a disgraced politician looking at many years in prison on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. The Syrian Kurds, including the 300,000 exiles in Turkey, are under Turkish protection. We will eliminate all terrorists in the area and help Syrians return home."
U.S. President Donald Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of the area in advance of the Turkish incursion.
Trump tweeted, "Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time" and that "I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS. Talking to both sides."
"We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way," Erdogan said in speech to lawmakers from his AK Party.
"The operation is currently continuing with the involvement of all our units... 109 terrorists have been killed so far," Erdogan also said in the speech.
Earlier Thursday, Iran's foreign ministry called on Turkey to immediately halt its military offensive in Syria and pull its forces out of that country.
In a statement posted on its official website, the ministry expressed concern about the humanitarian situation and the dangers posed to civilians in the conflict zone.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran... emphasises (the need for) an immediate stop to the attacks and the exit of the Turkish military from Syrian territory," it said.
A top Syrian Kurdish official said on Thursday that Turkish attacks weaken the ability of security forces in northeast Syria to guard prisons holding Islamic State detainees.
Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters that this may lead to the escape of jihadists and that the number of prison guards is reduced as fighting with Turkey intensifies
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