Turkish warplanes have bombed parts of north-eastern Syria at the start of an offensive which could lead to conflict with Kurdish-led allies of the US.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was to create a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will also house Syrian refugees.

The strikes caused civilian casualties, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said.

Turkish ground forces have also been massing on the border.

The offensive was launched just days after President Donald Trump controversially withdrew US troops from northern Syria, a decision announced after a phone call with Mr Erdogan that sparked widespread criticism at home and abroad.

The Kurds – key US allies in defeating the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria – guard thousands of IS fighters and their relatives in prisons and camps in areas under their control and it is unclear whether they will continue to be safely detained.

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