Turkey launches military operation in northern Syria

Turkey launches military operation in northern Syria
A U.S. Soldier provides security during a coordinated, independent patrol along the demarcation line near a village outside Manbij, Syria, June 26, 2018. Credit: Flickr/ US Department of Defence.

The Turkish government announced on Wednesday that it has launched a military operation in northern Syria.

The operation is aimed at removing US-allied Kurdish forces in the area and creating a zone to resettle millions of refugees.

The announcement came after US President Donald Trump gave the green light for the withdrawal of US troops from the area on Monday, a decision which has prompted criticism.

The Turkish government claims that by withdrawing its troops, the US has handed over leadership of the military campaign against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in the region to Ankara.

Reinforcements and armoured vehicles were dispatched by the Turkish army on its side of the border with Syria on Monday and Tuesday.

"There are no options. The US will get out of the way, Turkey will come across and it will cause significant disruptions in the counter-ISIS campaign," said Aaron Stein, Director of the Middle East Program at the US Foreign Policy Research Institute, to The Brussels Times. 

"In a worst-case scenario, the [Syrian] regime backed by the Russians will come across the Euphrates river and the Kurds will be sandwiched between two hostile powers," added Stein.

Members of the international community have expressed concern that the military operation will seriously destabilise the region.

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, called on Turkey to exercise restraint on Wednesday at a plenary session of the European Parliament, reports Belga news agency.

"It will lead to mass displacement. Many internationally displaced persons in the area will be uprooted," said Stein, when asked what the impact of the Turkish operation will have on civilians in the region.

Evie McCullough

The Brussels Times

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