Civilians rush to escape Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria

Civilians rushing to escape Turkish airstrikes in Syria

Last Updated Oct 10, 2019 7:06 PM EDT

Thunderous explosions echoed across northern Syria on Thursday as Turkish artillery paved the way for an all-out ground assault. The Turkish military said they've struck more than 180 "terrorist targets" along a 150-mile path.

They said ground troops have already crossed into the stretch of land between Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn, the two border towns where U.S. special forces vacated bases earlier this week.

CBS News found some of the tens of thousands of people who have fled the intense shelling, bottle-necked on the main road leading out of the border city of Gamishli.

Throughout the day, and now into the night, there have been these huge traffic jams, people trying to get out of the range of Turkish weapons, airstrikes and artillery. The Turkish border is just a mile in that direction and nobody here wants to risk another night.

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One mother told CBS News they decided to leave now because they saw the situation getting worse. She said kids are dying and no one is doing anything about it.

She said they left, but they didn't know where they were going.

Medea Ghanm, 25, blames the U.S. for putting her and her three young children in danger. She said America turned its back on loyal allies and have given Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a green light to attack civilians.

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Aftermath from mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey, Thursday, October 10, 2019.  CBS News

All desperate residents can do now is get as far away as they can and brace for the worst.

Kurdish forces are no match for the might of the Turkish military. They are outgunned and vastly outnumbered. Yet a commander told CBS News if the Turks invade in large numbers, they will be attacked.