Now in its seventh day, Turkey's offensive against Kurdish fighters has caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, has up-ended alliances and is re-drawing the map of northern Syria. President Trump has since ordered the withdrawal of all USA troops in northern Syria.
The Pentagon pulled about 50 service members away from two Syrian border towns before the offensive began, and Trump ordered a quick withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 USA troops in northern Syria on Saturday after the violence spiraled out of control and SDF leaders who had relied on the United States sought help from the Syrian regime, which is backed by Russian Federation and Iran.
One of the most important flashpoints is the city of Manbij, west of the Euphrates river, which Turkey has vowed to capture. A US military spokesman, Col. Myles B. Caggins, confirmed American soldiers had pulled out of Manbij. The area had been patrolled jointly by US and Turkish forces under a deal aiming to persuade Turkey not to invade.
This comes as Russian special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said that clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops "would simply be unacceptable. and therefore we will not allow it, of course".
The removal of U.S. troops from Syria is a huge win for Russian Federation and Iran, on top of Syria, because the two countries have been vying for the Assad regime since 2011, when he attempted to violently crush protests which led to a full blown civil war.
Operation Euphrates Shield and its successors, Operation Olive Branch in 2018 and Operation Peace Spring - launched on October 9 - all aim to eliminate terrorist elements near Turkey's borders, including Daesh and the YPG/PKK.
The US military also tried to hinder the dispatch of Syrian and Russian forces near Manbij, the London-based war monitoring group said. The Kurds, feeling betrayed by the US, in recent days partnered with Syrian government troops to protect themselves.
"The security of the Turkish-Syrian border must be ensured by the deployment of Syrian government troops along its entire length", said Lavrentiev. It said at least 69 civilians have been killed in Syria. On Monday, it slapped sanctions on two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials. Two Turkish soldiers and seven others wounded in a mortar attack from Manbij, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry. European governments in particular are anxious that the chaos in the area could lead to mass breakouts by thousands of IS fighters detained by Kurdish forces.
But with President Trump's orders to withdraw all 1,000 USA troops from northern Syria in the face of a Turkish offensive, those who have served alongside Kurdish forces are left to consider America's new place in the world.
The city, part of the territory controlled by Kurdish fighters backed by the United States until last week, appeared on the verge of being rushed by Turkish troops and Syrian rebel proxies gathered on the city's outskirts.
Speaking to reporters in Washington DC on Monday evening, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the sanctions as "very strong" which would have a severe impact on the Turkish economy.
Trump was sending Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser Robert O'Brien to Ankara to try to begin negotiations to stop the fighting.
What did Trump expect when he green lighted the Turkish invasion by withdrawing USA troops, a garden party?
"I have been perfectly clear with President Erdogan: Turkey's action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes", he said.
If it comes to it, his siblings, like many others, would have no problem staying in Raqqa, so he would have to find a way out alone, he said.
Turkey's rationale for the invasion of Syria is that it is trying to push back Kurdish forces from the border region for establishing a "safe zone".
For now, Syrian forces will not be deployed between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, where Turkey has focused its efforts.
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle descends after receiving fuel from a KC-10 Extender, assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, out of Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, above an undisclosed location, September 1, 2019. "And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground".
"I can't even look at the atrocities", an Army officer who served in Syria a year ago said of videos posted online of Turkish-backed fighters executing Kurdish civilians.
"Cooperation has been organised with the Turkish side", it said.