Turkish Tanks Cross Into Syria As Ground Offensive Against US-Backed Militia Begins

Early on Sunday, Turkish ground forces crossed the border and pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, Ankara said after launching artillery and air strikes on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

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Turkey sent armored divisions into northwest Syria after a day of airstrikes as part of 'Operation Olive Branch' which bombed Kurdish YPG forces ("People's Protection Units") in and around Afrin to drive the US-allied Kurdish militia from the area. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters along with Turkish troops are now moving into the area, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

"Our jets took off and started bombing. And now, the ground operation is underway. Now we see how the YPG ... are fleeing in Afrin," President Tayyip Erdogan said. "We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly."

Quoted by Reuters, Erdogan also accused some of Turkey’s allies of providing the YPG with 2,000 plane shipments and 5,000 truckloads of ammunition; the comments were clearly aimed at the United States.

According to the local military, Turkish forces forces started the ground phase as part of ‘Olive Branch’ in the north-western Syrian region of Afrin, with Hurriyet reporting that the Turkish military has so far faced no serious resistance from Kurdish forces, which has retreated to towns and villages.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that tanks and military vehicles had begun to cross the Syrian border, according to Haberturk. They were said to advance roughly five kilometers into the Afrin region. Yildirim also said the Turkish military, NATO’s second-largest, would create a 30-km (19-mile) “safe zone” in the  region.

Predictably, there have been conflicting reports, with the YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka saying that Turkish troops failed to cross the border into the Afrin region as they were forced back after a fierce stand-off. The statement was reiterated by another YPG official, Nouri Mahmoudi, who said that “all the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat,” Reuters reports. Thousands rallied against the attacks in the border town of Amuda in northwest Syria, vowing to stand against “Turkish occupation”, according to a local witness.

At the same time, a Turkish official said that the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines.  Facing little resistance, Turkey appeared set to extend its territorial gains:

At a training camp near the border, about 200 fighters from the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army factions drilled on a parade ground. Some were in different khaki-colored uniforms, some in jeans and sneakers.

Lieutenant-colonel Mohammad al Hamadeen, a rebel spokesman, said a ground offensive was due to begin within hours against the YPG. “The military operation started this morning with the invasion of the northwestern areas of Afrin. And they will start in the eastern area of Afrin,” he told Reuters.

A Reuters reporter on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Azaz, under the control of rebels from Free Syrian Army factions, heard several blasts and saw smoke rising from a hill to the west, where a fighter said the YPG were.

* * *

Meanwhile, There were no signs of conflict in the town itself, where life appeared to continue as normal with traffic on the muddy, potholed roads and uniformed rebel police at the main roundabouts. Still, Azaz was bleak and the toll from the war was plainly seen in some of its crumbling buildings. At one of the car repair workshops on the outskirts of the town some men were fixing a gun-loaded vehicle.

Finally, the US remains oddly mute on this latest escalation which sees NATO member, and US-ally Turkey, attack a US-armed and backed militia in Syria (whose initial purpose of helping remove the Assad regime is long gone). On Saturday, a Pentagon official said: "We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS (Islamic State)." 

The plea by the world's superpower was roundly ignored by everyone.

 

Comments

Kartolas Sun, 01/21/2018 - 09:34 Permalink

Isn't this illegal? Where's the outrage the UN?

If they want to secure their border, why not secure it 30km inside Turkey? USA are ilegaly in Syria. Turkey is ilegaly in Syria and IRAQ...

Brazen Heist Lost in translation Sun, 01/21/2018 - 13:24 Permalink

The Kurds prove yet again how stupid they are. They seem to be great at picking the losing side, for a while now. No wonder why these gypsies can't get a country going, they can barely unite let alone make sound geopolitical judgements.

The Russians offered having Syrian government forces in Afrin to prevent Turkish incursions. The PYD rejected the offer.

I wonder how much longer will the Kurds be portrayed as some sort of heros to naive Westerners? 

They are traitors to the Syrian nation, selling out to Zio-American imperial interests. If they do not wish to deal with the legitimate government of Syria, they will suffer.

In reply to by Lost in translation

a Smudge by an… Brazen Heist Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:40 Permalink

BWA HA you are hilarious! The Kurds have picked the winning side since day 1: themselves. They are survivors. The losing side is the USA. Always has been. But they are used to taking our help when given and doing without it when not. I lost count of how many times the USA has screwed them over so they have no compunctions.

But your best bit is calling them gypsies. Lemme guess, you wanna tell them to go home where they came from right? Which would be uh...now where is Kurdistan on the map?

 

In reply to by Brazen Heist

tenpanhandle Brazen Heist Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:48 Permalink

They certainly have been portrayed and are considered as hero-like to us dumb Americans (including me), now that you mention it.  Must have been those pictures of extremely sexy Kurdish babes bearing the assault rifles. Kind of a contrived scenario; blending victim and protector into one person.  Whats not to like, right? 

I have to examine my opinions on this as your comment planted some serious suspicion into my gourd.

Wag the Dog again and there I was petting the fucking dog.  The wagging never stops just another different dog.  I still want to fantasize about those armed babes , though.     

In reply to by Brazen Heist

HRClinton Dominus Ludificatio Sun, 01/21/2018 - 12:26 Permalink

Re.. "Trumpo promised he was not like Obongo and would leave Syria and Afghanastan.  He had been saying it since 2013. Do you see any difference?"

Yes. The skin color, hairdo and ties are different. The words are also different. New Mascots and chants usually fool the Hopium addicts and Kool-Aid drinkers, while the Game goes on.

 

See, that's the difference between a Centralized System based on Trust, and a Decentralized System based on Proof of Utility. Guess which system charlatans, politicians and parasites favor? The False Choice always being offered by Central Scammers / Planners (aka Leaders), is: Stability for Trust, versus Volatility for anything else. Guess what? Sheeple and all human "grass eaters" seek Stability.

Centuries of conditioning by war lords (who grew into princes and kings) and their charlatan mystics (who grew into clergy), has resulted in massive breeding selections, that favor these Central Planners (parasites and scammers). ZH comments support that, with all the dissing of the Decentralized CC money.

What can I tell ya? People are still stupid, cowardly and malleable. Even on ZH.

In reply to by Dominus Ludificatio

Crazy Or Not CheapBastard Sun, 01/21/2018 - 11:06 Permalink

I think you, (and much of the ZH community occasionally) misunderstand me. The question I was answering is: "What's Trump going to do about it?"

- My belief is the DoD - under the Trump Admin. will push to limit Turkish air power, and act accordingly to protect their ambitions/investments in the area. Having been taught a tough lesson by Putin, (((They))) - whoever the real authority within the US state that is pushing for expansion of Geopolitic power projection in the M.E. is... - commonly refered to as "The Deep State" - (((They ))) will not take kindly to an upstart like Erdogan deconstructing systems and operations developed over an extensive period of time - and a robust response is likely. 
Whether provocation to Erdogan into action is veiled inside a feint by Putin/China to goad the US into revealing their commitment to Syria and forcing the US to invest man`power and resource to the M.E. to take heat off North Korea / South China Seas potential conflicts - and depleat US armaments capacity by ME deployment ....remains to be seen. Though also noted that Erdogan has his own demons regarding the PKK as a real power threat and possibly a foil for a Fethullah Gulen feared 2nd attempt at Turkey.

As a final note Barry and Hillary (swamp growth though they are) were likely responding to senior's instructions in "most" of their actions. Bishops and Rooks on the chess board. The plan currently in operation is at least 30 years old.

In reply to by CheapBastard

Crazy Or Not eatapeach Sun, 01/21/2018 - 13:27 Permalink

Southfront.org is a good place to start if you want to understand the Syrian situation. Its russian affiliated so you have to take that into account when reading its reports. 

Notice the camera man zooms to the target immediately before and after the rocket launch. he knew what the target was, and knew the trigger moment. These video bloggers are broadcasting a clear message. Erdogan ... we got your number and we're coming from you. This is 1984 to 1989 Russia vs Muhajahadin 101 Ver 2.0. If Turkey doesnt up their game they loose.

https://youtu.be/YPRLvLfKTQA?t=18

Turkish tank destroyed:
https://youtu.be/lHc8TcEfnEc?t=128
 

In reply to by eatapeach

Winston Churchill eatapeach Sun, 01/21/2018 - 17:53 Permalink

Plausible and completely wrong.

This is about throttling OBOR south for the USA.Their throttle at the Afghan/Pakistan line

failed when Pakistan flipped.Now they want a Kurdistan straddling the next choke point.

None of the locals are going to allow it,  or China and Russia for that matter.

They are all acting in concert whatever they may say in public.

Kipling's Great Game of Empire is still in play.

In reply to by eatapeach

Crazy Or Not newdoobie Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:07 Permalink

I would agree that as one nears the top of any so called power pyrimid that the lines of distinction between vested interests, corporate gain, destruction of competition, national interest, defense, policy etc all get very blury, and the dots that connect them become a vipers nest of deadly secrets. 
Don't forget that the West (China & Russia too) was built on dynasties who played for the long termand there's still quite a few of them around, and they are players. Tell me when you find out who are the shareholders in the BIS.

https://youtu.be/njXsSr-tJWk

In reply to by newdoobie

MoreFreedom BaBaBouy Sun, 01/21/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

The article says "Turkish troops failed to cross the border into the Afrin region as they were forced back after a fierce stand-off."  Seems to me the YPG is protecting the Kurds, so Trump doesn't have to do anything more. 

Seems to me, Erdogan is unhappy that his corruption has been exposed, that the US says Turkey is funding terrorism, that the US won't extradite Gulen, and that the US is supporting the Kurds whom Erdogan says are terrorists.  Erdogan will waste his money and Turkish soldiers on his military misadventures.

In reply to by BaBaBouy

Greed is King BaBaBouy Sun, 01/21/2018 - 14:36 Permalink

I posed that question a few days ago on another ZH article in anticipation of Turkey going to war with the US backed Kurds and the ISIS terrorists posing as the "freedom fighters" of the Syrian anti-Assad opposition.

 

Now another question, if America and Turkey clash over this, which side will the other NATO members support ?. It`s a real mess, under the terms of the NATO convention, an attack on one member is considered to be an attack on all members; so strictly speaking, the other NATO members should go to war against the fellow NATO member who first attacked the other NATO member, which means that if America launches an attack against Turkey, America will find itself  at war with all the other NATO members, and itself.

In reply to by BaBaBouy

a Smudge by an… Greed is King Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:58 Permalink

The scenario is pretty far fetched for the reasons you imply. Basically NATO is the pretext for the USA in Western Europe, period. If we directly attack Turkey this sham is exposed for what it is. It wont' change much as everybody knows it's a sham  but why call the bluff when you are getting paid to believe it?

So here's what happens if either Turkey or the USA is accused of direct hostility: NOTHING. It triggers some round of bullshit UN inspections and talks and treaty observances. All pro forma once again.

Anybody not in the USA think we had nothing to do with the recent coup attempt in Turkey? While we have the former aspiring president living in the guest house?

In reply to by Greed is King

a Smudge by an… Arnold Sun, 01/21/2018 - 09:42 Permalink

This is gonna be AWESOME! Let's see here...there's us the USA who won't leave Syria and their air space. Meanwhile Israel has been pounding them. Here comes Turkey to get the Kurds who we support. And terrorists who we uh....well we support them too. And here's Turkey a NATO partner attacking our proxy armies...and well we're not just a  NATO partner, we run that shit shop. How can this not be fun?

And here's Vladimir having got all his stuff and people neatly out of the way.

In reply to by Arnold

Vageling a Smudge by an… Sun, 01/21/2018 - 11:01 Permalink

Yup. Russia got their bases. No need to get in the crossfire. Putin just hasto snap his finger and a few hours later Syria is full of Russian soldiers. But why would he? It's not Russia their fight. They assisted in giving the Salafist headchoppers some serious butthurt. And now uncle scam wants to create a new proxy army? Border security? Ya, da chilrun! Now Turkey is throwing the wrench between those wheels on that one. US foreign policy 101: being oblivious is okay, just double down and change a letter. Nobody will notice, right? Accept, people do.

In reply to by a Smudge by an…