On November 1, reports appeared that the Turkish military was massively deploying military hardware, including battle tanks to the Silopi area that borders with Iraq and Syria. The military grouping arrived from central Turkey.
The Ankara regime has said a number of times that it’s set to participate in the ongoing operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the ISIS terrorist group. Furthermore, Turkey has set a military base in northern Iraq without approval of the Iraqi government. Both factors have lead to major tensions between Ankara and Baghdad.
This allows experts to suggest that the newly deployed miltiary grouping could be used by Ankara to take part in the ‘liberation of Mosul’ and to project the power in northern Iraq.
At the same time, the tensions are also growing between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Ankara-led forces (Turkish-backed militant groups and the Turkish Armed Forces) in northern Syria. The Kurdish leadership believes that Turkey uses the Operation Euphrates Shield to oppose the long-awaited (by Kurds) creation of the Kurdish autonomy in the country. In this case, pro-Kurdish media outlets speculate that the Turkish forces can attack the YPG-controlled area in northeastern Syria.
Separately, reports appeared that Ankara is setting up a military base (with an airfield) in the area of Ziyar, to the south of the Syrian town of al-Rai (controlled by Turkish-backed militant groups).
There is no confirmed information about the number of deployed military equipment. Nonetheless, it’s clear that M60T main battle tanks (MBTs) will be the main striking force of the grouping. The M60T MBT has been actively involved into the Turkish military operation in Syria since its start in August 2016.
The M60T is a Turkish nickname for the Israeli-made Sabra Mk II MBT. The Sabra Mk II was delivered for Turkish trials in 2005, and it passed qualifications in 2006. The first production tank was delivered in 2007.
Turkey uses the Israeli-made MBT in conflicts in Syria and Iraq as well as in the military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in its own country.