— Stan (@StanM3) January 27, 2018
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Early on Sunday, Turkish ground forces crossed the border and pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, Ankara said after launching artillery and air strikes on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.
Turkey sent armored divisions into northwest Syria after a day of airstrikes as part of ‘Operation Olive Branch’ which bombed Kurdish YPG forces (“People’s Protection Units”) in and around Afrin to drive the US-allied Kurdish militia from the area. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters along with Turkish troops are now moving into the area, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
1/ The ground offensive against Afrin enclave has indeed started. Clashes now inside Afrin province. Kurdish YPG claims it destroyed at least 1 Turkish tank. See video. pic.twitter.com/k81T2OPlbe
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) January 21, 2018
“Our jets took off and started bombing. And now, the ground operation is underway. Now we see how the YPG … are fleeing in Afrin,” President Tayyip Erdogan said. “We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly.”
Quoted by Reuters, Erdogan also accused some of Turkey’s allies of providing the YPG with 2,000 plane shipments and 5,000 truckloads of ammunition; the comments were clearly aimed at the United States.
Contradiction has become the norm for US foreign policy over the past many years – an observation that is clear to anyone even remotely paying attention.
On Tuesday the US State Department spokesperson was asked during the daily press briefing about the obvious contradiction inherent in US ally and NATO member Turkey shelling US-backed Kurdish forces in Afrin – the Kurdish held zone in northwest Syria near the Turkish border.
It’s not the first time that a US partner force has attacked another US partner force in Syria (and then there’s this Vice News headline from 2016 indicating it’s sometimes gone three ways: “Three US allies are now fighting each other in northern Syria”).
Thus far US military officials have sought to distance themselves from YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Units) operations in Afrin while simultaneously promising to ramp up support for the Kurdish YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) throughout the rest of Northern Syria. US Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said Tuesday of the Syrian Kurds in Afrin, “We don’t support them, we have nothing to do with them” – in what was a clear case of the Pentagon trying to dance around the issue with old-fashioned double speak, pretending as if the Syrian Kurds themselves don’t see “Rojava” Kurds as a single entity.
Turkey is poised for an imminent massive ground invasion of Northern Syria to quash Kurdish militia groups currently holding Afrin near the Turkish border. Multiple regional outlets have reported a build-up of forces that could constitute the largest external intervening force thus far in the entirety of the Syrian war.
According to Middle East based Al-Sura News, Turkey’s military build-up currently underway includes special forces troops, Army units, Turkish-backed Syrian Rebels and Turkey’s air force. The Kurdish YPG/J (People’s Protection Units) has held Afrin since the Syrian government withdrew from the area in 2012, which constitutes the western-most part of the self-declared Rojava autonomous Kurdish zone.