Turkey Begins Ground Invasion, Attacks Syrian Kurds

Turkish troops reportedly entered Syria at four sites

Backed by artillery fire and airstrikes launched in spite of the US trying to deny them access to the airspace, Turkish forces invaded northeastern Syria on Wednesday. Ground forces crossed the border at four different sites, and began fighting with Kurdish forces.

Reports are that early engagements are near Ras al-Ayn,while Turkish airstrikes continued hitting sites across northern Syria. Turkey reported 181 sites hit in the area so far, including a prison that was holding ISIS detainees. What happened to the detainees, whether killed or escaped, is uncertain.

What is certain, at least according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is that the US didn’t give Turkey a “green light” for the invasion. The US did agree to move a few dozen troops away from the border so as to not get in the way. But President Trump also threatened to destroy Turkey’s economy over the matter. 

Turkey has been threatening to invade Kurdish territory in Syria for years now, and while the US made protracted moves to try to prevent this, or at least inconvenience Turkey, it was always clear that once it happened, the US was prepared to back off in short order.

The Kurdish YPG has threatened all out war in the event of a Turkish invasion, which virtually goes without saying since the whole point of the invasion is a war on the Kurds. The Kurdish forces are now trying to muster to keep Turkey’s push limited to the immediate area around the border.

How far this war will go remains to be seen. Turkey has suggested the goal is taking the “safe zone,” which is a band immediately on the border, but threats to invade have often included much deeper incursions into Syrian Kurdistan, and fighting close to the border is likely to add to calls to go further.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.