Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on October 9 that preparations for the planned military operation in northeast Syria are still ongoing. The statement went contrary to claims by mainstream media outlets that Turkish troops have already entered the region.
Citing a Turkish official, Bloomberg had reported that a small forward group of Turkish forces entered Syria early in the morning of October 9. The outlet claims that Turkish troops took two points near the northern Syrian towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.
Contrary to these claims, Akar said, while he was attending the air force academy’s 2019-2020 academic year opening ceremony, that forces were still moving to the frontlines.
“The transfers and military operations are ongoing. We are following the process closely with the commanders,” the Anadolu Agency quoted Akar as saying.
Like most of northeastern Syria, Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn are controlled by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are backed by the US. Ankara views the group as a threat to its national security.
Last August, the U.S. and Turkey reached an agreement on the region. However, the agreement was never fully implemented. This forced Ankara to reconsider a military operation, an option that was apparently accepted by the U.S. which withdrew its forces from the border strip.
The US step led to a kind of panic in the mainstream media, which sees the U.S. occupation of northeast Syria as a necessity.
The SDF had vowed to repel the bending Turkish attack. However, local observers doubt that the Kurdish-controlled group will be able to fight back without a support from the US.