Turkey Begins Invasion of Syria, Targeting US-Allied Kurds

Clay Curtis
October 11, 2019

Turkish soldiers have been seen arriving in a town on Turkey's border with Syria, just hours after the defense ministry said it had completed preparations to launch a military operation in north-east Syria.

"Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a long-standing threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs", he wrote.

On October 4, Turkey's Defence Ministry announced that the U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting their third joint ground patrol on Friday within a planned safe zone in northern Syria, along the Syrian-Turkish border.

The media spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces said there is "a huge panic" because "Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas". "We are prepared to defend the people and the people of NE #Syria", the SDF said.

In its call for a general mobilisation, the local civilian Kurdish authority known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also asked the global community to live up to its responsibilities as "a humanitarian catastrophe might befall our people".

Donald Trump controversially withdrew United States troops ahead of the action but says Turkey may face economic consequences.

Syrian National Army forces in are dispatched to the Manbij front line near Aleppo ahead of Turkey's planned operation in northern Syria, on Tuesday.

Graham criticized President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, which will occur in advance of a planned invasion of the region by Turkey.

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Lavrov didn't directly address the issue of Turkey's anticipated invasion into northeastern Syria but said that Moscow is encouraging the Kurds and the Syrian government to settle their difference through talks. Experts who spoke to Al-Monitor said the incursion would likely be limited and face stiff resistance from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have received backing from the Pentagon.

Trump has long criticized President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but the subsequent rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State has convinced many national security officials, and lawmakers such as Graham, that a precipitous US troop withdrawal from the region would leave the USA and its allies even more vulnerable to extremism. Turkish troops would team up with Free Syrian Army rebels, Altun wrote, a group that the Central Intelligence Agency covertly armed until 2017.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency's communications director, called on the worldwide community to rally behind Ankara, which he said would also take over the fight against the Islamic State group.

He said the US will monitor the situation closely. The group's headquarters are in Azaz, in northwestern Syria, and it claims to have tens of thousands of fighters.

Assad has repeatedly said he aims to regain control of all of Syria, and if the PYD was to ally with him formally, it would bring the largest area hitherto out of his control back under Damascus' influence.

The extremists launched three suicide bombings against Kurdish positions in Raqqa. The airstrikes have inflicted civilian casualties, the group added, citing preliminary reports from the ground. The Turkish air strikes had killed two civilians and wounded two others, the SDF said.

Mr. Erdoğan has spoken of plans to build towns, villages, hospitals, and schools but also says Turkey, which has already spent some $40 billion on the refugees, can not afford to do it alone.

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