TURKEY has continued shelling northeastern Syria, despite agreeing to a five-day ceasefire.

Here is what we know about the fast developing and lethal invasion, which some fear will end up as a bloodbath on Europe's border, and help revive ISIS.

Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_1
Turkey has been called upon to cease its military action in Syria
Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_2
The Turkish assault on US-allied Syrian Kurdish militia began a week ago
Why is Turkey attacking Syria?

Because the Turkish government fears Kurd-dominated forces in Syria will link up with Kurdish rebels in Turkey, who have been fighting for a breakaway state for decades.

The long-persecuted Kurdish people live in mountainous regions stretching across northern Turkey, Syria and Iraq. And they want their own homeland.

Due to the 2003 toppling of Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, and the ongoing campaign against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad, the Kurds have been able to gain a degree of self-government in those war-torn countries.

But the Turkish hard-line President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fears Kurdish forces in Syria will link up with their brethren in his country.

Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_3
Jubilant Syrian National Army (SNA) members chant as they launch an operation in Syria's Ras al-Ayn villages
What has been happening so far?

October 7 — US pulls its troops from border between north-eastern Syria and Turkey 

October 9 — Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his attack called called "Operation Peace Spring" has begun

October 9 — Air raids and artillery starts pummelling YPG territory, reportedly killing least five civilians and wounding dozens 

October 10 – Three people, including a nine-month old baby, have reportedly been killed. The Turkish military pounded more than 181 Kurdish targets after launching a deadly ground and air assault in northern Syria

October 11 – Turkish forces are reported to have mistakenly shelled a group of US special forces troops in northern Syria

October 12 – The Pentagon demanded that Turkey halt all operations that could require the US to take "immediate defensive action"

October 13 – Trump ordered all US troops to withdraw from the country's north to avoid a bloody conflict between Turkey and US-backed Kurdish fighters 'gets worse by the hour'

October 14 – With the US abandoning their former allies, Kurdish forces near the Syrian border struck a deal with President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian government to fight against Turkey. The move marked a major shift in the on-going Syrian war

October 15 – The US imposes sanctions on Turkish ministries and senior government officials. Donald Trump calls Erdogan to demand an immediate truce

October 16 – The US House of Representatives votes overwhelmingly to condemn Trump's decision to withdraw American forces, paving the way for the carnage in north-eastern Syria

October 17 – The US and Turkey agree to a five-day ceasefire to allow the Kurds to withdraw about 20 miles away from the Turkish border

October 18 – Hours into its so-called ceasefire, Turkey's forces were seen shelling and engaged in clashes, mainly in the border town of Ras al-Ayn

October 24 – ISIS takes "full control" of the al-Hawl refugee camp

October 25 – Erodgan demands the US hand over the commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria after Washington called for negotiations with the Syrian Kurds
Who are the Syrian Kurd YPG?

The People's Protection Units (YPG) is mainly a Kurdish group in Syria founded in 2004 and make up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from their stronghold in the borderlands of North East Syria.

Although Kurds mainly make up the most of the YPG, it also has Arabs and foreign fighters.

They have been backed by the United States during the eight-year-old Syrian civil war against the cruel Assad regime and also Isis — which exploited the conflict and captured territory to form its so called, if not ultimately doomed, caliphate.

Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_4

But Donald Trump has now abandoned his ally.

Last Monday, American troops withdrew from the Kurdish-dominated areas in Syria.

And Turkey is clearly taking the opportunity to attack the YPG and SDF — because it's long feared these rebel forces could boost separatist ("terrorist") Kurds in its own country.

The YPG has been criticised by Turkey over its support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) with Turkey saying the YPG is a terrorist organisation.

Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_5
A Syrian girl displaced by the Turkish military operation weeps in a bus upon her arrival at the Bardarash camp, north of Mosul, Iraq
Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria? Background to the tensions explained_6
A family flees by motorbike from the town of Ras al-Ain along the border with Turkey
How are Donald Trump and the US involved?

Trump is pulling troops from Syria – the US and Turkey are Nato partners and have been close allies for years.

But it's difficult for the US as the Kurds also have a long history.

Trump said on Twitter: “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters.”

In a subsequent message he said that the United States was “helping the Kurds financially” and warned Turkey against unnecessary force.

Trump called his Turkish counterpart Erdogan on October 15 to demand an immediate truce while US Vice President Mike Pence said he would go to the region "as quickly as possible".

The US also imposed sanctions on Turkey's defence and energy ministries.

The move froze their assets in the US and banned transactions with them that involve America's financial system.



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What do Syria's Kurds say?

They have said they are determined to defend its territory "at all costs".

But before the Turkish invasion began, their commanders warned the area they live in was "on the edge of a possible humanitarian catastrophe".

And there is concern over the loss of many "innocent civilians".

Turkey begins invasion of Syria as dozens of military vehicles head to the border and warplanes bomb multiple cities