Turkish President Announces Offensive Into Northern Syria Has Begun

Yolanda Curtis
October 9, 2019

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Tuesday that "all indications" point to a Turkish attack on its border areas and called on the global community to help avoid a possible humanitarian disaster. "Our aim is to wipe out the terror corridor, trying to be implemented in our southern border, and bring peace and security to the region", Erdoğan said in a tweet.

Jennifer Cafarella, research director at the Institute for the Study of War think-tank in Washington, said the SDF faced the likely prospect of having to fight on two fronts: against Turkish forces and remnants of Islamic State simultaneously.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, noted that "It'll be hard to protect America without allies over there, and the Kurds have been good allies".

"With Peace Spring Operation, we will eliminate the terrorist threat to our country".

Kurdish-led forces which took the city from the jihadists said the attack was an "initial repercussion" of the planned Turkish assault.

The artillery strikes, which also targeted YPG gun and sniper positions, were aimed at sites far from residential areas, the source said. "We will clash against the Turks to not allow them to cross the border".

'If I hear the president say one more time, 'I made a campaign promise to get out of Syria, ' I'm going to throw up, ' the Republican senator from SC added.

At Akcakale, across from Syria's Tel Abyad, howitzers were deployed behind earth embankments and pointed towards Syria, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday.

There were no immediate reports of casualties among security forces.

Turkey's lira slid 0.5 percent, breaking through what traders called a key support level of 5.85 against the dollar to its weakest level since August.

World powers fear the action could open a new chapter in Syria's eight-year-old war and worsen regional turmoil. Ankara has said it intends to create a "safe zone" in order to return millions of refugees to Syrian soil. It was also ready to embrace "prodigal sons", it said, in an apparent reference to the Syrian Kurdish authorities who hold the northeast.

US officials said Turkish defense officials had also notified a USA general based in Ankara as Washington's military attache early Wednesday that Turkey's operation in Syria would begin within a few hours.

Mr Juncker said that the bloc would not fund Ankara's plans in the region. "If the plan involves the creation of a so-called safe zone, don't expect the European Union to pay for any of it", he told the European Union parliament.

The entire US foreign policy establishment has loudly denounced Trump's announcement as horrifying and risky. The U.S. -allied Kurdish-led force captured the last ISIS area controlled by the militants in eastern Syria in March.

"We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters", Trump said, adding: that Washington was helping Kurdish fighters "financially [and with] weapons".

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

In justifying the green light he gave to the Turkish invasion, Trump stressed his belief that Turkey would take on the burden of captured Isis members. They will be based in Ceylanpinar, with 14,000 of them gradually joining the offensive.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey to show "restraint" in its operation, warning that the fight against ISIS should not be put at risk.

"We will do our best to support the start of such substantive talks", Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to Kazakhstan.

Turkey has launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria with airstrikes hitting towns on the border between the two countries.

Trump's call for ending US military involvement in the Middle East and bringing the troops home was a feature of his presidential campaign, but it flies in the face of many decades of bipartisan American policy, even as the Trump administration and its immediate predecessor have tried to give additional attention to what they see as long-term security threats elsewhere, including from China and Russian Federation.

The president's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria has drawn significant criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

Other reports by iNewsToday