US lawmakers from both parties criticized Trump's decision to regroup USA forces and abandon the Syrian Kurdish fighters, fearing it would lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State (IS) and a humanitarian crisis following the Turkish incursion.
Earlier, Turkey's defence ministry said "all preparations for the operation have been completed", adding that the establishment of the "safe zone" was "essential" for Syrians and for peace in the region.
The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Syrian border "shortly", President Tayyip Erdogan's communications director said early on Wednesday, as Ankara starts a military incursion in the region.
Kurdish officials charged on social media Tuesday that some of those mortars already were being put to use, shelling positions used by the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces near Sere Kaniye, near the Turkish border. We didn't respond to this unprovoked attack. Russian news said Moscow has communicated that position Washington.
Expectations of a Turkish invasion rose after President Donald Trump on Sunday abruptly announced that American troops would step aside ahead of the Turkish push - a shift in USA policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurds, longtime US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.
Given that those same Kurdish groups have fought alongside USA forces against the Islamic State movement in Syria, Trump's decision was seen by prominent figures of his own Republican party as a betrayal.
But Trump also threatened to "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the Turkish push into Syria went too far.
He warned Ankara "any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency". "I concluded that we had finally found the right partner who could help us defeat ISIS without getting drawn into the murkier conflict against [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad's regime", he wrote.
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The first phase of the Turkish attack is expected to begin along a 120km stretch between the border towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain - the same area that U.S. forces evacuated on Donald Trump's orders on Monday.
The Kurdish groups in northern Syria took advantage of the Syrian civil war and their victories against Islamic State to create a self-governing region - which they call Rojava - that spans the border region with Turkey.
"Moved our 50 soldiers out", Trump said in a Twitter post on Wednesday."Turkey MUST take over captured ISIS fighters that Europe refused to have returned. As a result we have moved the U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety", U.S. Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. "This thoughtless decision to withdraw USA forces from Northern Syria comes seemingly at the behest of Turkish and Russian leaders and over the advice of our career military and diplomatic officials".
Turkey has been poised to advance into northeast Syria since U.S. troops began vacating the area in an abrupt policy shift by U.S. President Donald Trump widely criticised in Washington as a betrayal of America's Kurdish militia allies. However, Trump has defended his decision to withdraw from Syria.
Also Wednesday, Iranian state television reported a surprise military drill with special operations forces near the country's border with Turkey, in Iran's Western Azerbaijan province.
He also challenged Trump to see the situation on the ground for himself. One official described them as an air strike, while the other said the site was made "unusable through various means".
Since then, the United States has continued to provide support to the mainly-Kurdish SDF, as they engage in additional clearing operations against IS remnants and sleeper cells across northeastern Syria. Turkey regards the YPG as indistinguishable from the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which both Ankara and Washington consider a terrorist organization.
"This is one of the options that we have on the table", he said. And what of the thousands of Islamic State prisoners being held in Kurdish-run detention centres?