Turkey says it is ready to move into northern Syria after President Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing US troops from the area. “All preparations for the operation have been completed,” tweets the Turkish Ministry of Defense.
Last night the Turkish army carried out air strikes on supply routes on the Syrian-Iraqi border to prevent Kurdish troops from supplying northeastern Syria. According to a Turkish security officer, cutting off the route is an important step for a Turkish military operation in Syria.
Yesterday, Trump announced the withdrawal of the last 100 to 150 US soldiers from northern Syria. As a result, the protection for the Kurdish fighters who fought against IS in recent years disappeared.
This gives Turkey a free hand to attack the Kurds in the border area. President Erdogan had been out for some time. He sees the Kurdish fighters as terrorists threatening the internal security of Turkey.
Moreover, Erdogan wants to create a “safe zone” in the area for the two million Syrian refugees who now reside in Turkey. The Turkish authorities write on Twitter that it is essential that such a “peace corridor” is created.
It is still unclear when the Turkish invasion should actually begin. Journalists have observed little extra activity at the border.
The news about the American withdrawal has led to worrying reactions worldwide. The United Nations and the European Union, among others, expressed concerns about the consequences for the civilian population in the area.
President Trump himself warned the Turks yesterday that they should not abuse the situation. If Turkey does something improper, he will destroy the Turkish economy entirely.
Turkish vice president Oktay announced today that Turkey will not bow to threats. He probably responded to Trump’s words. “When it comes to Turkey’s security, we determine our own path and our own limits.”