The Turkish military has begun an operation in northern Syria that will attempt to take over areas now held by Kurdish fighters, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday. Erdogan's communications director Fahrettin Altun said Tuesday night that the Kurds have "two options ... They can defect or we will have [to] stop them from disrupting our counter-ISIS efforts." The Kurds are U.S. allies, and their Syrian Democratic Forces helped drive the Islamic State out of Syria; they are now guarding about 12,000 ISIS prisoners. On Sunday, the White House abruptly announced that President Trump told Erdogan U.S. troops will "no longer be in the immediate area" of northern Syria, opening it up for Turkey to launch an assault. Erdogan considers the Kurds, who want their own permanent nation state, to be terrorists.

Scroll for 5 things you
need to know now