Turkey strikes Syria’s border with Iraq and shells Kurdish border positions as incursion looms

Turkey’s military claimed it carried out a strike along the Syrian-Iraqi border in a bid to hinder the reinforcements from being delivered to Kurdish forces in northeast Syria while Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) claimed that Turkish artillery had shelled its positions near the town of Ras al-Ayn on Syria’s border with Turkey.

Marking the details of the operation along the Syrian-Iraqi border as “hazy,” the Reuters news agency report, citing a Turkish security official, said that the strike aimed to cut off a route between Iraq and Syria often used by Kurdish armed groups “before the operation in Syria.”

Through its social media account, the SDF said “The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on Sere Kaniye border with Turkey. There were no injuries to our forces.”
It said it had not responded to the shelling but was prepared to respond to the attack.

On Wednesday, Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Twitter that Turkey will begin the incursion shortly along with the Free Syrian Army, as the withdrawal of the US troops from the areas threatened by the Turkish military action has begun.

The White House on Monday announced a decision to withdraw troops from the immediate area, in a move lashed by many in Washington from both sides of the political aisle as a betrayal of America’s allies, the Kurds.

The U.S. withdrawal will forsake Kurdish-led troops exposed to attack by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said on Wednesday that President Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw troops does not give Turkey a green light for military action, threatening the country with “sanctions from hell” which would have, he claimed, bipartisan support in Congress.

Through the looming cross-border military operation, the Turkish government aims to clear border areas of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia which the US considers to be a crucial ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.

Ankara deems YPG as a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed militant group has waged a separatist insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, has labeled the U.S. policy shift as a “stab in the back”.

Trump dismissed the accusations, and after threatening to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it does anything “off-limits” in Syria, he softened his tone, praising the country as a valuable trade partner.

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States … They have been good to deal with,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Erdogan’s project to relocate millions of refugees in northeast Syria is alarming some Western allies as much as the military operation itself, according to Reuters.

Another matter troubling Western countries is a possible resurgence of the Islamic State in the region as a result of the incursion.

Whipping up these worries came reports of suicide bomb attacks in the city of Raqqa, a former ISIS stronghold.

3 ISIS suicide bombings were carried out on SDF positions in the city with clashes still ongoing, tweeted NBC World news, citing SDF sources.

The SDF reported on its Twitter account that “Daesh (ISIS) takes advantage of imminent Turkish invasion. Three ISIS suicide bombings on our military positions in Raqqa, Clashes still ongoing.”

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