Shades of gray in Turkey’s stated Syria goals

They also denied the Turkish government’s claims that the US had delivered thousands of trucks of weapons to Syrian Kurdish forces, saying most of the supplies instead went to USA forces, and that the resources also included ammunition, food and humanitarian supplies.

Erdogan’s words trumpeted the news of the Turkish invasion of Afrin in northwest Syria in order to “wipe out the terrorists” who were not members of the Islamic State (IS) group or Al-Qaeda, he said, but Syrian and other Kurds.

But Washington said it stands by Trump’s “firm” and “tough” stand during his phone call with Erdogan.

State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, in a strict tone reiterated the U.S. positions on the operations in Afrin. Quoted by the presidency, Erdogan said that once the “cleansing of terrorists” is completed in Afrin, the area will be handed back to its “principal residents”.

Armenian lawmaker Edmon Marukyan, representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) made a statement on behalf of the group regarding the military operation of Turkey in Syria’s Afrin.

He said the Turkish military would “clean up” the city of Manbij, the northern Syrian enclave that the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) once held but is now in the hands of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. Washington sees the YPG as an effective partner in the fight against ISIL in Syria, a stance that has infuriated Turkey.

“Our only target is terrorists, the terrorist organization, their shelters, pits, tools and equipment”.

His comments, during an address to local leaders of his ruling party in Ankara, appeared to be in defiance of the USA, which has urged Turkey to keep its campaign in Syria “limited in scope and duration” and to focus on ending the war.

The region has had days of rain, cloud and chilly weather but a high-ranking official from the Turkish Prime Minister’s office told Sky News that this was due instead to their desire to safeguard civilians. He called it a grave and very painful situation, accusing the United States of working with terrorist organizations.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 286 civilians in eastern Ghouta and Damascus have been killed in shelling and airstrikes in the last month because of the fighting. “This operation will continue until the last member of the terror organisation is neutralised”. If this goal is achieved, Turkey will be able to control its Syrian border and even proceed toward Manbij, close to the western bank of the Euphrates, if the YPG does not withdraw from that area.

Several countries, including the USA, the United Kingdom and France, have already voiced alarm, but no country has categorically urged Turkey to halt the Turkish military operation. It is too early to predict what the Afrin operation will bring in terms of Ankara’s long-term strategy in Syria, and it is clear the operation is not totally without risks and consequences, both militarily and politically.

“We recognise and fully appreciate Turkey’s legitimate right to protect its own citizens from terrorist elements that may be launching attacks against Turkish citizens on Turkish soil from Syria”, he said.

“We consider Afrin an inseparable part of Syrian territory”, Issa said.

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