War in northern Syria breaks out as Turkey attacks Kurdish sites

Turkey’s president claimed the offensive would prevent “a terror corridor,” but some Kurdish fighters guarding ISIS prisoners left their posts to fight Turkey, a U.S. official told ABC News.
4:40 | 10/09/19

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Transcript for War in northern Syria breaks out as Turkey attacks Kurdish sites
And we begin tonight with the military operation under way right now. Just days after president trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. Troops from a key part of Syria after a phone call with Turkey's president. Turkey is now striking the very U.S. Allies, the kurds, who helped the U.S. Fight ISIS. Turkey's military first launching air strikes on kurdish and tonight, there are reports that civilian targets have been struck, as well. Civilians now trying to flee to safer ground. Officials there are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe tonight. And it's those U.S. Kurdish allies who are guarding ISIS fighters in Syria. President trump just days after talking with Turkey's president now saying today what Turkey is doing is a bad idea. ABC's senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell leading us off tonight from Iraq. Reporter: Tonight, war in northern Syria. An all-out Turkish offensive against America's kurdish allies has begun. Jets bombing kurdish positions and towns in an operation Turkey's president claims will prevent a terror corridor and but the panic on the ground tells a very different tale. The kurds reporting multiple civilian targets have been struck, killing at least two. With no notice, locals forced to run for their lives, fleeing artillery fire. Cramming into the back of pickup trucks with whatever belongings they can. Officials now warning of a humanitarian disaster. We've been on the front lines with the kurds, watching their troops beat back ISIS for years, fighting alongside American forces. But facing an invasion, the kurds tonight are halts their fight against ISIS alongside the U.S. A U.S. Official now telling ABC news some kurdish fighters guarding ISIS prisoners have now left their posts to reinforce the front line against Turkey. The onslaught coming just days after president trump appeared to give the green light. Abruptly pulling U.S. Forces back from the border after a call with Turkey's president erdogan. But today president trump claiming "The United States does not endorse" the operation, calling it "A bad idea." And are you concerned that erdogan will try to wipe out the kurds? I will wipe out his economy if that happens. I'm sure that he -- I hope that he will act rationally. Reporter: The president pressed, too, on those ISIS prisoners. What if ISIS fighters escape and pose a threat elsewhere? Well, they're going to be escaping to Europe. That's where they want to go. They want to go back to their homes. Reporter: With a ground invasion under way, critics, even in his own party, blasting the president's decision to abandon the United States' kurdish partners. If he follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency. Reporter: Representative Liz Chaney saying "Impossible to understand why Donald Trump is leaving America's allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS." And Ian, tonight, you've reported that some kurds are no longer securing those ISIS prisons as they now try to defend themselves. How are they likely to respond to Turkey? Reporter: Well, David, look, the kurds have far less firepower than the Turkish military, but they are highly motivated. So, what we should expect is for them to step aside and allow the Turkish military to come in on the ground, as they have already tonight and then engage them guerrilla style, just as they did so successfully against ISIS. David? All right, Ian Pannell on the ground for us. And one more note on this, not only have many of the kurds left their posts securing those ISIS prisoners, now the fight against ISIS the U.S. Had been teaming one the kurds, that fight has stopped. Let's bring in Martha Raddatz tonight. We were just on the Syria border. You know U.S. Military leaders were telling me that the fight against ISIS was very much alive, still a serious threat. So, what are you learning tonight about the mission now suspended in Syria and those ISIS prisoners? Reporter: Well, the kurds feel they have no choice to leave those prisons as Turkey invades, but you and I both know how dangerous those prisons are. 11,000 ISIS prisoners could simply blend in with the population or flood surrounding areas and Pentagon officials feel this could get much worse if president trump pulls out all the American troops quickly, and I am being told many are doing their best to try and talk him out of it. David? All right, an extraordinarily delicate situation. Martha, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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