Has the Turkish operation in Northeast Syria begun? Recent declarations by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised to eradicate “terrorism from the Tal Rifaat and Manbij” areas suggest that it did. In fact, Turkish forces already shelled Wednesday villages in the southeastern countryside of Kobani, northern Syria, with heavy artillery, according to the Kurdish agency North Press. Turkey has recently intensified its attacks by shelling the border villages with heavy weapons to intimidate the population, displace them and replace them with the families of its affiliated armed factions, known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), the agency claim. According to the same source, Turkey shelled a regime military base in Aleppo earlier. “Turkish forces fired two shells in areas between the villages of Umm Hawsh and al-Wahshiya, less than one kilometre away from a military base belonging to the Syrian government forces,” an eyewitness told North Press.
As a result of such attacks, the Abu Rasin district in the north-western countryside of Hassakeh witnessed a new wave of displacement, still according to the state-run agency SANA. Ibrahim Khalaf, director of social affairs, told SANA that more than 130 families have been displaced from Abu Rasin and nearby villages in the past two days as a result of attacks by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries. The displaced families fled to the Tal Tamr district, and safer farms and villages. According to North Press, this has pushed the AANES to call for peacekeeping forces on the borders separating the areas it runs from those held by Turkish forces.
In parallel, the opposition website Zaman al-Wasl, the Syrian regime army sent reinforcements from the powerful First and Third Divisions to the Kurdish-held areas in the northern Aleppo countryside at the contact lines with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). Zaman al-Wasl sources added that a military convoy of fifty cars, 150 fighters from the “Local Defense” militia backed by the “Iranian Revolutionary Guards”, left from the towns of “Nubul” and “Al-Zahra” in the northern countryside of Aleppo, and arrived on Tuesday night at Menagh airport.
North Press had however previously announced that the Turkish operation was postponed, citing a source of the SNA. The source said on Monday that Turkey’s remarks about a potential military operation against northeast Syria were a pro forma announcement. According to the agency, the operation was delayed following Russian and American pressure. Similarly, the opposition website Baladi News claimed that Turkey has informed the Syrian National Army factions that it has postponed the planned military operation in northern Syria, following a meeting held in the Hawar Kilis area, located on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Whether the attack has begun or not, the U.S. has signified its dissatisfaction, both via its secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield.
“We think that nothing should be done to break the ceasefire lines that have already been established,” the latter said during a visit to the Turkish state of Hatay.