Military analysts here at Akcakale explained to us this morning that the mobilization of the Turkish Armed Forces for the “Operation Peace Spring” is the largest in Turkey’s history, even bigger than the 1974 invasion in Cyprus. Nearly 100,000 Turkish Army men and almost 1/4 of the battle tanks and armored vehicles are located in the wider Syrian border area, ready to participate in operations and back up the unit which invade many cities in northern Syria that had been under the Kurds’ control up until now. Already the cities of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad have fallen into the hands of Turkish-controlled forces. Ankara’s next goal is to prevent the deployment of forces in Manbij and Kobani. Already, Free Syrian Army forces have entered the outskirts of Manbij as Turkish fighters are flying over the area.
At Akcakale we constantly see dozens of battle tanks and armored vehicles being transported to help out the Free Syrian Army.
Ankara is seeking to speed up the operation and complete it as soon as possible after news broke of Assad’s forces storming in northern Syria. This was also evident from statements by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that “Turkey looks to complete this operation as soon as possible”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his visit to Azerbaijan, commented that “this operation in Syria is equally important to the “peacekeeping operation” in Cyprus, and we are determined to go through with it to the end. The battle will continue until the final victory”, the Turkish president stated.
Responding to a question about the agreement reached between the Kurdish forces and Damascus, Erdogan said he did not expect any problems to arise in the city of Kobani, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “approach was positive”.
“There are a lot of rumors going around right now. However, especially through the embassy and with Russia’s positive approach in Kobani, it seems that we will not have any issues”, he stated briefly.
They are on the look for jihadists who escaped prison
A big question remains what will happen with the jihadists who escaped from prisons within Kurdish areas. Kurdish authorities said nearly 800 relatives of foreign jihadists in the so-called Islamic State fled a displaced camp near the battlefield. Akar claimed that the Kurds had liberated the jihadists and said that Turkey had documents that they had found the prisons empty.
However, there is concern regarding what these ISIS members will do and where they will go, as terrorist attacks are feared.
The UN secretary-general said that Turkey’s military operation in Syria has caused the displacement of at least 160,000 people and has called for “immediate de-escalation”.
Antonio Guterres reiterates his “great concern” over the development of the situation in northern Syria.
He calls for immediate de-escalation and urges all parties to resolve their problems peacefully.
When asked whether Russia might engage militarily with Turkey in Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded that “we do not even like the thought of such an option”, adding that “the channels between our military forces are open for this very reason”.
When asked whether it was time for Turkey to leave Syria, since the anti-terrorism target has been achieved, Peskov replied that he could not answer that question and that “the only ones who can are the military officials”. /ibna