On Tuesday, the Turkish Yeni Safak newspaper, which is close to the government, said that the Turkish army was fully prepared for the operation east of the Euphrates, saying that it was “just around the corner” and giving some details about the expected operation.
According to the newspaper, the commander of the Turkish Second Army, Ismail Metin Temel, will lead the operation and will be the decision maker. He previously oversaw Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in the Aleppo countryside at the start of the year.
Yeni Safak quoted unnamed military sources as saying that the operation east of the Euphrates would proceed according to a well-laid plan, starting with strikes against the most important targets, which are the observation towers near the Turkish border, which American forces have started to leave and hand over to Kurdish forces.
During the early stages, the operation would, “also strike the tunnels which the organization has dug recently, and where Erdogan said we would bury them.”
The newspaper added that, “according to the plans announced so far, Turkish forces will strike these targets from the air and then land forces will clean out the area.”
Turkish anti-mine and anti-explosive armored vehicles will create a safe passage for Turkish forces, out of fear of “the presence of explosives within the tunnels,” according to Yeni Safak.
The newspaper said that when the operation begins, 24,000 fighters from both the Turkish forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) will cross the borders to enter the areas controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The newspaper quoted an unnamed commander in the Syrian opposition forces as saying that the role of “FSA units deployed in Idleb would be in bringing forces to the areas east of the Euphrates during the operation.”
In December, Yeni Safak said in a report translated by Alsouria Net, that it should begin the military operation from the city of Tel Abyad on the Turkish-Syrian border, adding that once it is under their control, they will begin expelling the YPG fighters and cut off its communication with the city of Manbij.
On Wednesday, Youssef Hamoud, spokesman for the National Army, which is composed of FSA factions, said that up to 15,000 opposition fighters were ready to take part in the attack.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.