Turkey launches Land invasion of Syria, Calls France opposition “Terrorism”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

BBC Arabic reports that Turkey has launched a land invasion of the Kurdish-majority Afrin canton in northern Syria, home to some 500,000 Kurds. Turkey has also flooded Arab fundamentalist fighters into the region, calling them “Free Syrian Army.”

The move comes after some 72 Turkish F-16s struck over 100 facilities and bases of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) over the past three days.

CNN is reporting that 11 YPG counter-strikes on the Turkish border town of Reyhanli have resulted in dozens of casualties and one death, of a Syria refugee.

Turkey also says it will go into the nearby town of Manbij, which the YPG took away from ISIL with US support, and where there are allegedly US special forces troops embedded.

Ankara accuses the YPG paramilitary of the Democratic Union Party of being an affiliate of the terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has attacked Turkish police and troops in eastern Turkey and has a base in Qandil in Iraq. The Syrian Kurds deny that they are a branch of the PKK and the United States not only does not deem them terrorists but has actively allied with them in the fight against ISIL.

The Turkish military says that its aim initially is to establish a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border between Afrin and the area of Azaz to its east. This statement appears to be code for ethnically cleansing Kurdish villages anywhere near the Turkish border. Turkey maintains that its border regions have taken large numbers of strikes from YPG batteries.

Turkey imagines a further phase of killing or chasing away the some 8,000 YPG militiamen in Afrin, which sounds like a plan to ethnically cleanse all 500,000 Kurds from the enclave.

Turkish war propaganda is also alleging the existence of ISIL cells in Afrin, which the Associated Press has refuted. Since the YPG has been the only effective fighting force against ISIL, Afrin is the last place the latter could hope to find refuge.

The Turkish operation has a strong diplomatic dimension. Turkey’s representative at NATO in Brussels is demanding that the other NATO members support its campaign. It is not getting much joy in that regard. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on Ankara to conduct a very limited operation and to avoid civilian casualties.

France is jumping up and down upset and foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is going to the UN Security Council for a discussion of Turkey’s move. His Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, is equally upset, and said that any country that stands with the Syrian Kurds against Turkey is standing with terrorists. I.e. he accused the French of being terrorists.

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Related video:

ODN: “Turkey raids Syria to strike US-backed Kurdish YPG”

14 Responses

  1. What I don’t understand with regard to the Syria fiasco is where is the United Nations in all this? The US has illegally set up shop in Syria against international law without a peep from the UN. Other players are all in there as well. Now Turkey has decided to attack the country (all be it specifically the Kurds) and the international community has nothing to say. The UN has for some time been little more than a talking shop and now they don’t even seem to be talking at all.

  2. Whether or not this turns out to be the “actual” thing that sends our so-called civilization towards an extinction-level collapse, this does seem to be “the sort” of thing that may send us on such a path.

    I do need to be optimistic personally, however world news is fairly daunting these days.

  3. Turkey claims it wants to establish a “Buffer zone” and is conducting air strikes to clear the area. Assad has vowed to shoot down any airplanes flying over Syrian soil.

    Enter 30,000 US backed and funded Kurdish forces

    2018 is getting off to a rocky start.

  4. .
    FWIW,
    a government spokesman from Turkiye has stated that he recognizes the Kurdish nature of Afrin,
    and that Turkiye only seeks to restore historically Arab towns and villages to Arab control.
    That includes towns he named to the Southeast of Afrin itself.
    .

  5. .
    Turkiye does not have F-16’s based at Incirlik.
    These attacks are launched from somewhere else.
    .

    • The U.S. Air Force has for a number of years had F-16 Falcons deployed at Incirlik.

      Turkey has attacked ISIS using the F-16 previously.

  6. Interesting to see what Assad does. If he plays his cards right, might he get a step closer to bringing all of Syria back under Damascus? There’s a lot to be said for maintaining a single unchanging purpose while reacting to each wave and current as you surf towards it.

    • Doubtful–how often have we seen occupiers willingly give up control of invaded territory in the Near East?

  7. Well, of course the French aare now tewrrorists. Anyone who doesn’t recognize the new Gazi as the only legitimate ruler of the (Muslim) world is by definition a terrorist. For years now.
    Ethnic cleansing? Well, there’s a history of that, and perhaps we’ll be asked to return to calling what’s left Mountain Turks.

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