Turkey is preparing to take military action against US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria if talks on the issue with the US and Russia fail, Reuters reported on October 15 citing two Turkish officials with knowledge on the matter.
The Turkish officials were referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Last week, a Turkish marine and two police officers were killed in the northern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo in two separate attacks by Kurdish forces. In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to end the threat of Kurdish forces in Syria.
“It is essential that the areas, notably the Tell Rifaat region from which attacks are constantly carried out against us, are cleansed,” one senior official told Reuters.
The official said that the time or nature of Turkey’s next military move in Syria is still unclear. Yet, the Turkish military and intelligence are making preparations.
“The decision for this has been taken and the necessary coordination will be done with particular countries. This subject will be discussed with Russia and the United States,” the official said.
Turkey wants the YPG to withdraw at least 30 kilometers away from all frontlines with its forces in Syria. Erdogan will discuss the issue with US President Joe Biden on the sideline of the G20 summit that will be held in Rome at the end of October. Later, the Turkish President will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the officials, if the talks fail, the Turkish military will take military action against the YPG in Tell Rifaat in the northern Aleppo countryside and “other areas”.
A Turkish attack on Tell Rifaat will not be possible without the approval of Russia who maintains a force in the town and the surrounding areas. The Syrian Arab Army and Iranian-backed forces are also present there.
If Turkey decide to go on with its military plans, its forces will likely face resistance not only from the YPG but also from Russian, Syrian and Iranian forces.
Russia will not likely abandon Tell Rifaat, especially that Turkey is still not willing to pull its troops out from Greater Idlib in northwestern Syria. Turkish-backed militants launch attacks from the region on a regular basis.