Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) invited commanders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to Ankara and held talks with them about a planned military operation in northern Syria, the pro-government Türkiye daily reported on Monday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in separate statements that Turkey would take the necessary action against cross-border attacks from Syria after two Turkish special operations police officers were killed and two others wounded in a rocket attack carried out by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria earlier this month.
“We have no patience left with some areas that are a source of terrorist attacks aimed at our country from Syria,” Erdoğan said.
According to Türkiye, 35,000 Turkish troops will take part in the operation, and the locations and number of soldiers who will fight on the Tell Rifaat, Manbij, Ayn Issa and Tell Temer fronts have been discussed and set with the FSA commanders. The troops will be supported by the commandoes who previously fought in operations in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey and its proxies have seized control of territory inside Syria over several military operations launched since 2016 against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and the Kurdish YPG militia.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
But Washington partnered with the YPG to fight ISIL in Syria, brushing off angry criticism from Turkey.
In the meantime, the Turkish Parliament will this week discuss extending a motion to launch cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and Syria for one more year. The motion was submitted to parliament on Oct. 20.
The AKP and its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will back the extension of the motion. The opposition İYİ Party said it would support the extension of the motion but will continue to criticize the AKP government for its military actions in neighboring countries. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has not yet announced whether it will support extending the motion, although the party has backed all similar motions in the past.