DAMASCUS – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have dispatched massive military equipment and troops to border areas with Turkey after recent threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch military operations in the eastern Euphrates, battlefield sources in northern Syria said. Hundreds of Kurdish militias together with their military hardware and equipment have been sent to an area stretching from Ra’as al-Ain to Tal Abyaz and Kobani along borders with Turkey.
They also pointed to the reinforcing of military positions by the SDF in the towns of al-Advanieh, al-Moshirefeh, Zazoueh and al-Tavilah near Ra’as al-Ain in Hasaka and Tal Abyaz in northern Raqqa near the border with Turkey, and said that the SDF has declared a state of full alert. The Xeber news website, affiliated to the Kurdish militias, reported that the US fighter jets have been flying over Tal Abyaz, Solouk and Ain Issa close to the border with Turkey in Hasaka as the US patrols have also been seen.
President Erdogan warned that Turkey will conduct airstrikes and ground operations against Kurdish militias in the eastern Euphrates soon. In relevant remarks on Saturday, President Erdogan said that “Turkey is ready for an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to clear the region of terrorists”. Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town of capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists, Anadolu news agency reported.
“We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given. It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation,” Erdogan noted.
“Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace,” he added.
Turkey has long complained about the threat of terrorists coming from east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, which neighbors its southern border, vowing to take military action to prevent formation of a “terrorist corridor” there. Turkey made all kinds of warnings to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdogan said.
“We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the US for safe zone], we see that all were a tale,” the president added.
The US and Turkish troops carried out their first joint ground patrol for the zone on September 9. While Turkey welcomes the joint patrols, it has also announced that the US is not doing enough to set up the safe zone properly. On August 7, Turkish and US military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.