Turkey reinforces troops in northern Syria’s Manbij – SOHR
Xeber24.net – Ahval
Turkish army on Dec.22 sent military reinforcements to northern Syria’s Manbij, an area controlled by Kurdish forces, as Ankara threatens to carry out a new offensive to wipe them out, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Sunday.
“Tens of soldiers and more than 50 military gears including trucks and armoured personnel carriers as well as other carriers that carry armoured vehicles in addition to other material and ammunition, where it headed to the countryside of Manbij area,” the SOHR said.
“Around 35 tanks and other heavy weapons, carried aboard tank carriers, crossed the Jarablus border crossing in the early evening,” AFP quoted Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, as saying.
Turkish pro-government media also reported on the issue. Turkey sent reinforcements to its border with Syria, according to Demiroren News Agency (DHA).
DHA also said the Turkish convoy, headed toward the border district of Kilis, located in the southern province of Hatay, included tanks, howitzers, machine guns and buses carrying commandos.
The reinforcement move came after the U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 20 announced that the American troops located in northeastern Syria would withdraw from the region because the Islamic State (IS) was defeated.
Washington had supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the IS in Syria, as part of an international coalition dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The decision by Trump to pull out the 2,000 U.S ground troops out of Syria follows a phone call between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 14.
Erdoğan announced on Dec.13 that Turkey would launch a new offensive against the YPG in northeast Syria in a few days.
Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States. However, the YPG forms the backbone of a U.S.-led offensive against the IS in Syria.
On Dec. 21 Erdoğan said that Turkey would postpone a planned third military operation announced earlier this month against Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria in response to Washington’s surprise decision to withdraw its troops in the region.
Turkey conducted two military operations into northern Syria in the past two years. In 2016, Ankara launched an operation against IS, which also aimed to prevent the YPG from enlarging its territory in northern Syria. In January, Turkey staged another offensive against the Kurdish militia in Syria’s northwestern enclave of Afrin.