Turkish Forces Invade Northern Syria Along With Rebels

Tanks, Special Forces Capture ISIS City of Jarabulus

A coalition of Turkey-backed rebels were given access to Turkish soil through which to launch an invasion of the ISIS border city of Jarabulus, but what happened was a lot bigger than anyone expected, as the rebels didn’t go alone, but were joined by a significant Turkish military contingent, which invaded along with them.

Turkish special forces and tanks rolled across the border today, and fairly quickly secured Jarabulus for the rebels. It’s not clear how much fighting even took place, as the bulk of ISIS’ forces there are said to have retreated outright in the face of the offensive.

Turkey was desperate to see a non-Kurdish faction capture Jarabulus, not wanting the important border crossing in Kurdish hands. After the YPG took the city of Manbij, just to the south, Turkey scrambled to get an alternate group to Jarabulus, and apparently was willing to go to the extent of taking the city for them.

How well this rebel coalition, dominated by the al-Qaeda-linked Ahrar al-Sham, is able to hold Jarabulus on their own remains to be seen, but Turkish forces haven’t left yet at any rate, and with officials continuing to demand that the Kurds abandon Manbij, it is entirely possible the Turkish offensive isn’t over.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • What if Syria had invaded a town in Turkey?

  • The plot thickens….

    • Bianca

      Sure does. Love it.

  • armdkny

    Rebels?? Which rebels?? Did the Russians go along with this??

    • Bianca

      Of course they are. The rebels, whoever they are — all stripes and hues, will have no choice but to accept whatever Turkey says. What is the alternative? Hoping that they will somehow be supported by US and Saudis, and with ISIS territory shrinking, the supplies from Saudi Arabia will soon be over. Saudi Arabia, being mired in a atrocious war on civilians in Yemen, is clearly at the brink — its own allies are staying away from the genocide.
      Turkey has marked ISIS and YPG as terrorists. Other groups will soon see the handwriting on the wall, and the negotiations can start. Since Turkey and Russia support the territorial integrity of Syria, no groups can hope for carving out much more then any other region of Syria in terms of political rights. In fact, minorities like Alavites and Christians will have more reasons to get assurances in the new Syria, then Sunni majority. That will leave all the Sunni “rebels” to start minding their own business, as they can hope to get some leverage in the new order by demanding rights for their own ethnic group.
      Once Turkey and Russia agreed on the support for territorial integrity, that ended the hope for their mini-states. Turkey, of course, will expect Russia and others to support its own territorial integrity, denying Kurds their own state. The fact that Turkey sent delegation to Damascus a day before the operation — is very telling. US is the only one out, and rapidly losing the one and only ally on the ground.

  • dieter heymann

    The Kurds have done their job for the Obama administration. Now they are thrown under the bus to preserve the use of the Incirlik air base by the USAF.

    • Bianca

      Germans are pulling out of Incirlik.

    • RD1485

      Kurds think Kurdistan, US thinks Rothschildistan. (Genel Energy)

  • Bianca

    I hope the big picture is not being lost here. This operation has been readied ever since Erdogan met Putin. The consultations then followed with Iran. A few days ago, head of Pesmerga in Iraq visited Ankara. He has good relations with Ankara — as opposed the PKK faction that US is supporting in Iraq. The only reason US did not try to take Mosul, as the bulk of Kurds in Iraq would not go along with US led operation, and getting sucked ever so deeper into the US calculus for the tri-state liked Kurdish entity. Even Kurds in Syria are not of one mind. While some work with US special ops to expand their territory by pushing ISIS, others have their representatives in Moscow. Two days before the operation, high level Turkish delegation visited Damascus.
    Keeping in mind that the regional consensus now is SYRIAN TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY — the position now promoted by Turkey, Russia, Iran, China and Iraq. Let us see what does it mean for Kurds. At present, US special ops worked with Kurds to liberate Manbij. Following the liberation, Kurds expelled non-Kurds, with the intention of expanding its territory. US supports this, and to prove the point, attacked a town that was under government control — drawing predictably Syrian air force. This test of US “resolve” in help of Kurdish militia taking a Syrian controlled city was hailed in US as a major victory. Excited voices have been heard heralding the no-fly zone, and such. Yet, the outcome was Kurdish-Syrian truce — as no side wants to really antagonize the other — to be used in US broader Syria policy that is changing from day to day.
    Turkey is echoing Iranian statement that US intends to expand Kurdish area all along Turkish border, in order to link up Syrian and Turkish Kurds, and eventually Iraqi and Iranian Kurds with the “… intent to create another Israel in the region.” Erdogan announced the operation to the citizens stating a simple goal to eliminate terrorists — DAESH and YPG. Did not mince words — YPG is target. And by definition, since US special ops are in alliance with Kurds in their effort to expand territory — US has been warned to back off supporting any further Kurdish advance outside their areas.
    This is the bottom line, no matter how pleasant it may sound in US media, how US is really working together with Turkey. The next test is going to be the withdrawal from Manbij. US has already caved in, and asked Kurds to withdraw. This will bode really ill for any further alliance between Kurds and US on the ground. However, it they do not withdraw, Turkey will expel them. They all need to go back to the Euphrates line.
    What about other groups that are delighted with Turkey entering into Syria? All those groups will now owe a lot to Turkey, as Turkey will insure they are safe from ISIS and from YPG. But in the final analysis, these groups will have to accept Syrian territorial integrity — which will mean laying down arms, participating in the peace process, as well as in defining a new political system. One can easily bet on the outcome here: Turkey will appoint the people representing the motley crew of “rebels”, and these will work under the auspices of Turkish political directions.
    The bigger issue here is, will Kurds — at least those that did bet on US delivering what they promised — continue to be disruptive under yet another US “initiative”, or pull back to their areas, and negotiating with Turkey to insure their seat at the table in the peace process. Kurds are smart enough to know that with Turkey, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Iraqi Kurds supporting territorial integrity of Turkey — that the only cards left is to either accept the consensus in the region, or continue gambling that US will pull a rabbit from the hat, and give them a state or at least, US supervised autonomy. But that kind of gamble will risk Turkey treating them as terrorists, and US will not be able to help them. Unless it wants a war with Turkey — in a desperate attempt to prolong the conflict in Syria.

  • Middy

    Please do not be fooled by Turkey’s alleged “anti-ISIS” invasion of Syria.

    These two fine studies by Columbia University on Huffington Post prove that Turkey has supported ISIS all along:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-turkey-isi_b_8808024.html
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-isis-turke_b_6128950.html

    Turkey is 2-faced.

  • mj67

    Turkey’s only reason for going in is to kill Kurds, the Kurds only reason for not getting on the east side of the river is to kill Turks. So now we have a war within a war within a war within a war within a war, did i miss anyone? There are NO good guys, they all have their ‘agenda’s’, and in the end you watch that asshole Assad will still be in power……unless Israel nukes the whole damn country, which at this point might be a blessing.