The upcoming Turkish military operation against US-backed forces in northeastern Syria will likely target the border city of Tell Abyad and several villages around it, Haitham Afisi, the leader of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) told the news outlet Enab Baladi on December 12.
“We are ready for any military campaign east of the Euphrates,” Afisi added.
Few hours earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the operation will be launched within a few days. However, he didn’t provide further details.
A source told Enab Baladi that commanders of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) have been holding meetings with military officials in Turkey for three days now. According to the source, Abu Hatem Shaqrah, leader of Ahrar al-Sharqiyah, is attending these meetings.
Ahrar al-Sharqiyah is one of the biggest Turkish-backed FSA groups in the northern Aleppo countryside. The group played a key role in the Turkish military attack on the Syrian-Kurdish area of Afrin earlier this year.
The ongoing meetings in Turkey indicate that Ahrar al-Sharqiyah will be leading the upcoming attack on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Turkish military will likely limit its participation to “command and support” in order to avoid any military confrontation with U.S. forces in the region.