Turkish Strikes Pound Kurds in Northeast Syria as Offensive Begins

US will 'not support or be involved in' fighting

Turkish forces have begun their long threatened military offensive against the Syrian Kurds. Starting Monday night, Turkish warplanes began carrying out airstrikes, starting with a Kurdish base in Hasakeh Province.

Syrian state media reported the strike was at al-Malikiyah. It is being presented as part of Turkey unilaterally creating a “safe zone” in northern Syria. The safe zone was originally meant to be a joint US-Turkish effort, but Turkey has been complaining about US reticence.

The White House position now is a bit less clear. On the one hand, officials are saying the US won’t be involved in or support Turkey’s offensive, and that they intend to hand over responsibility to the region to Turkey. On the other hand Trump is threatening to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy over the invasion, cryptically adding (I’ve done it before!) to his Tweet.

Turkey’s government is generally very hostile toward the Syrian Kurds, and that hostility has driven a lot of their Syrian policy, with their original backing of regime change coming with the belief that a Sunni Arab state would crack down more vigorously on the Kurds’ ambitions for autonomy. US backing of the Kurds, however, left them with a large de facto autonomous region, which is what Turkey now finds itself trying to conquer unilaterally.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.