Turkish forces infiltrate border to attack Kurdish “terrorists”
Turkey has officially launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria today. Airstrikes have begun to hit the border town of Ras al Ain. President Tayyip Erdogan has announced the start of the action and said they aimed to eliminate what he called a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border.
Turkey was set to advance into northeast Syria since US troops began vacating the area in an abrupt policy shift by US President Donald Trump which was widely criticised in Washington as a betrayal of the US’ Kurdish militia allies.
Kurdish forces said they were on high alert and called on fighters to head for the frontier to defend the region against a Turkish offensive that is expected to involve tens of thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and armoured personnel carriers from NATO’s second-largest army. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said, “deployments and work is still underway regarding the operation,” according to a media report.
According to Reuters, the military operation into Syria has been launched with airstrikes and will be supported by artillery and howitzer fire. Another report said multiple large explosions rocked Ras al Ain, adding that the sound of planes could be heard above. He said smoke was rising from buildings in Ras al Ain.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they would defend their “own people”, potentially relegating the battle against Islamic State. Backbone of the SDF, Kurdish YPG militia has been one of America’s closest partners in its fight against Islamic State and holds tens of thousands of jihadist fighters and their families in camps and detention centres in northeastern Syria. Turkey sees YPG as a threat due to its link to the separatist PKK, another Kurdish group that has been battling the Turks for decades.