JERUSALEM, Israel - The carnage has begun in northern Syria: More than 100 dead including civilians. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and Syriac Christians of Northeast Syria, have issued a desperate plea to President Donald Trump: establish a no-fly zone over northeast Syria or expect a tremendous massacre.
The Turkish Defense Military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 Kurdish targets so far. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that so far, 109 "terrorists" were killed in the offensive, a reference to the US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters
Tens of thousands of Christians live on the northern border of Syria near Turkey. Thousands have fled for their lives since the invasion began Wednesday evening.
Only a few years ago, this same scene unfolded when thousands were forced to flee on foot from the emerging Islamic State.
CBN News interviewed Pastor Zani Bakr of the Church of the Brethren in Kobane on the Turkish/Syrian border earlier this year. Wednesday night he issued this plea just after his wife Chinar and their son fled for their lives.
"There is fear and panic among the people. Most of the people left. My family and the families of the believers left. The men only stayed in Kobani. We're waiting and praying to see what God would do till tomorrow morning. We're asking God for the nations to intervene, and for the UN Security Council to stop this war, and the displacement from Kobani and Tall Abyad and Ras el-Ein, in about six hundred kilometers of war and fire along the border," Bakr said.
The Syriac Christians of Northeast Syria also released a statement pleading with President Trump to establish a no-fly zone over northeast Syria and not to let Christianity to be driven out of the region. They issued the following warning:
"When Turkey invades all the major cities housing Christians and Kurds along the Turkish border, this invasion will include Turkish troops and their mercenaries such as the so-called Free Syrian Army, and a massacre will happen on a larger scale than what
happened in Afrin."
In Afrin last year, the Free Syrian Army – a jihadist group – destroyed churches and hunted down Christians.
The Free Syrian Army has joined forces with Erdogan again for this week's invasion and are attacking Syrian Democratic Forces. Air attacks, shelling, and Turkish ground troops are advancing into territory controlled by the US's main ally in the battle against ISIS.
Kurdish authorities said Turkey bombed a prison in the city of Qamishli Wednesday night holding ISIS terrorists from more than 60 nationalities. The Kurds say the prison attack is "a clear attempt" to help the jihadists escape.
"These attacks on prisons holding Daesh (ISIS) terrorists will lead to a catastrophe the consequences of which the world may not be able to handle later on," the statement said.
The Kurds are fighting back and at least five Turkish border towns have been hit by dozens of mortars since Wednesday.
The large-scale Turkish invasion is coming just days after President Trump announced he would pull US troops from the area. Most observers felt it gave Turkey a green light.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been one of the loudest critics of Trump's decision.
* Did not work before WWII.
* Did not work before 9/11.
* Will not work now.
When it comes to fighting ISIS it's a bad idea to outsource American national security to Russia, Iran, and Turkey.
To believe otherwise is very dangerous.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 9, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refuted the green-light claim saying, "That's just false. The United States didn't give Turkey a green light."
And the White House said, "Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place…" But Turkey considers the Kurds to be terrorists and not civilians.
Yet the humanitarian crisis is underway, Christians are not being protected and civilians are being indiscriminately bombed.
A group of 14 international aid agencies warned Thursday of an escalating humanitarian crisis. They said civilian lives are at risk and "humanitarian work is suspended."
Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and the Norwegian Refugee Council all co-signed the statement and said an estimated 450,000 people live within 3 miles of Syria's border with Turkey "and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritize the protection of civilians."
It added there already are more than 90,000 internally displaced people in the region. There are also tens of thousands of fighters with families held in camps and detention centers.
BELOW: 'This Is in Many Ways a Jihad': Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell Explains Turkish Invasion of Syria