Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery aimed at crushing Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Wednesday after U.S. troops pulled back from the area, paving the way for an assault on forces that have long been allied with the United States. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the campaign, which followed an abrupt decision Sunday by U.S. President Donald Trump that American troops would step aside to allow for the operation. Trump's move, which has drawn harsh bipartisan opposition at home, represented a shift in U.S. policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurdish fighters who have been America's only allies inside Syria in the fight against the Islamic State group.
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