Vastavam web: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today said that Turkey had “de-facto” launched a new operation on the ground to oust Kurdish militia from a northern Syrian enclave, defying US warnings that the action risked destabilising the area.Turkey has in recent days sent dozens of military vehicles to the border area and readied pro-Ankara Syria rebels amid repeated threats from top officials the operation on the town of Afrin was imminent.”This will be followed by Manbij,” he added, referring to another Kurdish-controlled Syrian town to the east.
Turkey accuses the YPG of being the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a rebellion in the Turkish southeast for more than three decades and is regarded as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned on Thursday that the Syrian air force could destroy any Turkish warplanes used in the new offensive.
Analysts say that crucial for any major ground operation will be approval from Moscow which has a military presence in the area and a cordial relationship with the YPG.With conspicuous timing, Turkey’s army chief General Hulusi Akar and spy chief Hakan Fidan were in Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian counterparts on Syria.Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported yesterday afternoon that Russian military personnel in the Afrin area were withdrawing from their positions but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later issued a strong denial.
Meanwhile, the Turkish threats of an intervention have also raised eyebrows in Washington, which has backed the YPG as it dislodged IS and gained control of the swathe of northern Syria up to the Iraqi border.Skinner said a Turkish operation would be a “serious blow” for the US-led coalition in Syria which still depended heavily on the YPG to stabilise the area after the ousting of IS from major towns.
But Erdogan accused the United States of not keeping its past promises that the YPG would clear out of Manbij.”The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary,” said Erdogan, threatening to pursue the operations up to the Iraqi border.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later said the “entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described”, admitting “we owe them (Turkey) an explanation.But Erdogan appeared to scoff at the mixed messages and lashed out at American military support for the YPG.