Military analyst Abdullah Agar said USA support had “really deepened”, causing “a lot of concern” for Turkey. Ankara says it aims to create a securitkilometershin 30 kilometres of the border.
The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to convene later Monday to discuss the situation.
But why has Ankara launched this offensive and what are the risks for Turkey? Ankara says it has only hit “terrorists”.
The military presence would be in addition to an unspecified number of U.S. diplomats working with United Nations partners, and civil society organizations on “stabilization initiatives in liberated areas”, including clearing landmines, reopening hospitals, restoring water and electricity and getting children back in school.
While Turkey’s Western allies, including the USA, consider the PKK a terrorist group, Washington has offered direct military and logistical support for Syrian Kurdish militants, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, to fight IS in Syria.
Immediately following the U.S. announcement, now denied by the Secretary of State, Turkey had threatened to commence a military operation against the establishment of a new terrorist force along its border with Syria.
The Turkish Air Force destroyed 45 targets in Northern Syria, according to a statement from the Turkish Armed Forces. Additionally, up until December of 2017, the US Government is also known to have directly funded/armed the Kurdish YPG inside Syria – the same group both Turkey and the rebels are now trying to take out.
Turkish forces have reportedly captured a number of villages in north-western Syria from Syrian Kurds, on the third day of an offensive to create a 30km-deep “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to walk back the US position, saying it was misrepresented.
Dictator Bashar al-Assad, technically the head of government for the territory being invaded, has also decried the “brutal Turkish aggression” against the Kurds.
The United Nations has said it is deeply concerned for the more than 300,000 people in Afrin. “It is a really risky situation”, he said.
Turkey’s military operation, dubbed “Olive Branch“, has put the entire region on the brink of another crisis and outraged most of the Middle East.
“A country we call an ally (the U.S.) is insisting on forming a terror army on our border”, Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Monday. He has also said that the YPG militia could not rely on Washington’s support to defeat Turkey.
“This role should certainly be ensured”, he told reporters, but added that all of Syria’s ethnic groups should respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Erdogan insisted Turkey had discussed the operation in advance with Russian Federation, and Moscow was in “agreement”.
“Erdogan is working hard to muster solid majorities in time for the very important Turkish elections of 2019”, he said.
“I can not foresee that this operation will be easy”, Agar said, pointing to the thousands of YPG fighters in the region and around 250,000 civilians living there.
The YPG-held enclave of Afrin marks the westernmost extent of its control.
The Afrin district houses an estimated 800,000 civilians, including displaced people from earlier years of the Syrian war. Ortac estimated at 15,000 Yazidis live in Afrin.