A decisive battle in the North-East Syria to create a safe/buffer zone for return of the displaced Syrians.
The impending military operation by Turkish forces east of Euphrates named ‘Peace Spring’, began on the night of October 09, 2019 shortly after the announcement of Trump about US military’s pull out from the region leaving the whole region at risk of ISIL and other militant organizations. The operation Ankara insists is targeting solely military positions and infrastructure of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
SDF aka YPG has been an offshoot of Kurdish militant group PKK based in Iraq basically, which is responsible for killing of 40,000 people mostly children in terror attacks and has been labelled terrorists by US, EU, NATO, Iran, Canada, Australia and Turkey. The YPG in Syria was armed and trained by US and its Western allies to fight against ISIL in 2016 but they continued to threaten the Turkish sovereignty and territorial integrity and now control 65% of Turkish-Syrian border. YPG soon changed their name to SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) after complaints from Turkey on how US can continue arming and training enemies of their allies.
Turkey is already home to 3.5 million Syrian refugees since the start of Syrian civil war in 2011 and wish to resettle as much of them as possible in Syria after establishing a 30km ‘Safe-Zone’, in North Syria. Ankara and Washington agreed earlier in August to create a safe area in northern Syria and establish a ‘peace corridor’ to facilitate the return of displaced Syrians. But actual progress has been slow on the ground as the US insisted on protecting and supporting its Kurdish allies- the YPG in the zone. Turkey said it wants to settle up to 2 million Syrian refugees in the zone, and has repeatedly warned of unilateral military action if it is not satisfied with progress.
The Pentagon has slammed Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring even though the operation had been planned for some time, and the US was initially supposed to help in the creation of a “safe zone” along the border. Instead, Trump has now threatened to shut down the Turkish economy if the operations continues.
Turkey, a NATO member and an ally of the US, has been threatened with sanctions before. After Ankara’s purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, Washington threatened to impose retaliatory sanctions and kick the country out of the F-35 fighter jet program.
As per the latest news feed coming from the region, Bashar Al Asad and Syrian Army have switched sides and vowed to fight alongside SDF aka YPG against Turkey. Now Syrian Army troops are mobilizing up north partially to fill the void by withdrawal of US forces from the area and partially to intercept the ingressing Turkish Army. Over 750 ISIL captives have also been released from SDF (Kurd militias) camp to further complicate the situation. Meanwhile, alongside US’ threats to put sanctions on Turkey, Iran and the Arab League has urged Turkey to immediately put an end to the ongoing operation, while Erdogan has once again vowed to continue it until the dismantling of ‘terror corridor’ along its southern border and achievement of desired objectives of the Operation ‘Peace Spring’.
Historically, Turkey has switched sides in this conflict more than once and has been allies to rebels and Assad both. Turkey has been waging a low-intensity campaign against Kurdish insurgency on its own soil for four decades. Back in 2016, Turkish forces entered into Syrian civil war, targeting the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the northern part of the country. They had made steadfast advances but stopped short of crossing Euphrates River until Operation Peace Spring. Operation Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch been well know precedents of Turkish Military operations in Syria before this one.