Turkey has increased the presence of its army units at the Syrian border only a few hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened with cross-border operations against U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in Syria.
The possible operation in Syria would include air and ground forces. The operation should be activated in the next two days in a region east of the Euphrates mainly held by US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers terrorists, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed on Saturday.
“We have made our preparations; we have finalized our operation plans, given the necessary instructions,” Erdogan told members of his ruling party at its annual camp.
The Turkish army has reinforced its forces in the border of Akcakale with additional armored vehicles and troops. The reinforcement comes to the Ackale across from Tal Abyad in Syria on late Saturday.
The intervention is coming amid the end of a deadline set up by Erdogan. He had given a deadline of the end of September for the 30-kilometer-deep (19-mile-deep) zone to be established, warning that if it were not kept, Turkey would be “forced” to take military action for its own security.
It is the Turkish most concrete plan of military intervention in the region since Turkey and the United States decided to establish a “safe zone” on the Syrian border that Turkey says should be cleared of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.
Turkey wants to act before winter conditions make it difficult for tanks to operate in muddy terrain, leaving little room for a last-minute agreement with the U.S.
Turkey sees the YPG as linked with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey and wants the United States to stop its support for them. The United States, in its turn, sees the Kurdish forces as vital in the fight against the extremist “Islamic State” group.