Washington has given the green light for Turkey to launch its long-threatened military operation into northeastern Syria to clear border areas of Kurdish militia.
The White House press statement issued on Sunday said: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.”
The statement follows a telephone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
No mention of YPG
The White House statement on Sunday made no mention of the YPG or of how far Turkish forces will go into Syria.
“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate’, will no longer be in the immediate area.”
According to the statement, Turkey will take responsibility for all the captured ISIS fighters.
However, we will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to DEFEND ourselves and our people.”
#SDF is committed to the security mechanism framework and has been taking necessary steps to preserve stability in the region. However we will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to DEFEND ourselves and our people.
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) October 5, 2019
A brief statement on the SDF’s website said: “Despite all the efforts we did to avoid conflict, our commitment to the security mechanism agreement and taking necessary steps on our end, the US forces did not carry out their responsibilities and have withdrawn from border areas with Turkey.”
It further warned that the White House’s decision would have a negative impact on the ongoing fight against ISIS.
“As the Syrian Democratic Forces, we are determined to defend our land at all costs. We call on our Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, and Syriac people to strengthen their unity and stand by the SDF in defense of their land,” it added.
Convoy to the border
Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported late Saturday that nine trucks loaded with armored vehicles and one bus carrying military personnel had been sent to the border district of Akcakale, located in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa.
The convoy was sent to reinforce military units based on the Syrian border, Anadolu said. It is not known whether this deployment was in preparation for the long-threatened operation.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin insisted that Turkey still respected Syrian territorial integrity.
“Within the framework of the territorial integrity of Syria, the safe zone has two purposes: to clean up the elements of terrorism, to secure our borders and to ensure the safe return of refugees. Turkey is strong and stable,” he said on Twitter.
Türkiye’nin kimsenin toprağında gözü yoktur. Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğü çerçevesinde güvenli bölgenin iki amacı vardır: Terör unsurlarını temizleyerek sınırlarımızı güvence altına almak ve mültecilerin güvenli bir şekilde dönüşünü sağlamak.
Türkiye güçlüdür ve kararlıdır.
— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) October 7, 2019
There appeared to be no immediate reaction from the European Union or the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
The Reuters news agency reported that Erdogan and Trump would meet in Washington next month upon the latter’s invitation.