Turkey making final preparations for Syria offensive

Doris Richards
January 21, 2018

Ankara is angry that Washington is allied with Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that have been fighting against Islamic State militants in Syria.

The defense chief said the Afrin operation had in fact "de facto" started with cross-border shelling, but that no troops had been deployed.

"Turkey is obliged to ensure safety of its citizens and borders", Canikli said.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and described the force as a "terror army".

Turkey's foreign minister said the Moscow trip by Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar was part of talks with both Russian Federation and Iran, the two main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to allow Turkish planes to take part in an Afrin campaign.

Several thousand people demonstrated against Erdogan on Thursday in Jawadiyeh, in the northeastern province of Hasakeh, an AFP correspondent said.

But it was still unclear what form a Turkish ground operation will take amid considerable political and military risks.

On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned that Syria's air force could destroy any Turkish warplanes used in the new offensive.

Turkey has long presented the Kurdish YPG as "terrorists", and insisted they will not allow them to retain territory west of the Euphrates River.

A Turkish military statement said Gen. Hulusi Akar and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan would meet with Russia's military chief, Valery Gerasimov, to discuss regional security issues, the latest developments in Syria and ongoing peace efforts for the war-torn country.

The statement said the operation will also take sensitivity into account and no civilian/innocent person would be harmed.

Turkey intensified its shelling of Kurdish fighters in neighboring Syria on Friday as it ramped up threats to launch a full military offensive across the border, a move that would stoke tensions with the United States.

Despite supporting opposing sides of the conflict in Syria, Turkey and Russian Federation have co-operated on the creation of "de-escalation zones" in Idlib and three other areas.

Confronted with the prospect of an imminent war that could draw in the United States and force Washington to choose between two important allies, USA officials have been hastily recalibrating their descriptions of the force.

"The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. We need to see concrete steps from the United States".

The federal government is refusing to say whether Canada will support the creation of a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria, plans for which have already drawn opposition from Russia, Iran, Turkey and even the UN.

While U.S. officials have denied the formation of such a force, Erdogan on Saturday accused America of trying to deceive Turkey.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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