Is Turkey preparing to launch a ground operation on Kurdish-held Northern Syria? This week, Syrian and international news outlets have been speculating about the imminence of a Turkish attack, after Ankara started its claw-sword air operation on Kurdish groups in Syria. Turkey has launched a barrage of airstrikes on suspected militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq over the past week in retaliation for the Istanbul bombing that Ankara blames on the Kurdish groups, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Turkey Ready for Ground Operation
The pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat has reported that Turkey’s army needs just a few days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria and such a decision may come at a cabinet meeting anytime.
It quoted a Turkish official saying a ground operation, targeting the areas of Manbij, Kobani and Tel Rifat, was inevitable to link up the areas brought under the control of Turkey and its Syrian allies with incursions since 2016. Ankara had been in contact with Moscow and Washington about its military activities, the source reportedly added.
Asharq al-Awsat added that the head of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said o he still feared a Turkish ground invasion despite U.S. assurances and has demanded a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border.
“There are reinforcements on the border and within Syria in areas controlled by factions allied to Turkey. We noticed this and, yes, this is new,” SDF chief Mazloum Abdi told Reuters by phone from Syria.
Turkish officials said the army needed just a few days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria, which has been attacked with howitzer long-range weapons and warplanes by the Turks for days.
The Kurdish agency North Press has reported that the U.S. Department of Defense said on Tuesday they were concerned about Turkish military escalation in northern Syria. “A ground invasion would severely jeopardize the hard-fought gains that the world has achieved against ISIS, and would destabilize the region,” said the Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Defense Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. The pro-government Athr Press has even claimed that all U.S. civilian personnel, including diplomats, have been evacuated from northeast Syria to Erbil.
SDF Meets Russia
The opposition website Zaman al-Wasl has reported that Siamand Ali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, confirmed to The Associated Press that Lt. Gen. Alexander Chaiko met Sunday with Kurdish commander Mazloum Abdi in northeast Syria, adding that he has no details about what they discussed. Russia has called for de-escalation along the Turkey-Syria border.
Turkish Bombing On NE Syria Causes Catastrophe – Rights Activist
The Kurdish agency North Press has reported that the ongoing Turkish escalation on north and northeast Syria would cause a humanitarian catastrophe, Avin Jum’a, a human rights activist in the city of Qamishli in northeast Syria, said on Thursday.
Jum’a added that any Turkish military operation will cause a huge wave of displacement in Kobani, Tel Rifaat and Manbij which contain about 300,000 Afrin IDPs in addition to their original inhabitants.
She indicated that they were communicating with many human rights organizations that work on documenting Turkish violations.
Since November 20, 2022, the Turkish air force has launched intense airstrikes on all AANES-held areas on the Syrian-Turkish border in addition to bombarding areas which are more than 40 km away from the border such as the Global Coalition military base and Hawl Camp in Hasakah and the village of Makman in the northern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor.
“We send periodic reports on all violations, but their response is limited to statements, without any real action to stand against the attacks,” she noted.
The human rights activist called on international powers to pressure on Turkey to stop the recent attacks.
For his part, SDF Commander in Chief, Mazloum Abdi, said Russia, as a guarantor of the ceasefire agreement in northeastern Syria signed with Turkey in 2019, should assume responsibility for stopping Turkish escalation against the region.
Abdi, in an exclusive interview in the Washington Online program which North Press broadcasts in Arabic from Washington, DC, held Russia responsible for stopping the attacks and taking a firmer stance under the Sochi agreement of 2019 that contributed to deploying Syrian government forces and Russian troops in the region.
The SDF Commander noted that Russia should prevent any Turkish military operation against the region.
Mazloum called on Russia “to show firmer positions and demand Turkey lives up to the previously concluded agreement and solve disputes through dialogue rather than war.”