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Turkish Army Plans Possible Operations Against Kurdish Militias in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Ankara – Turkish army increased its reinforcements on the border with Syria amid confirmations of preparations for possible operations against US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The army will be fully prepared to respond to any attack from there sites or any sites of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in north Iraq.

Military Turkish sources reported on Friday that the Turkish Armed Forces finished its arrangements against any possible operation in retaliation against Kurdish militias which Ankara considers an extension of the outlawed PKK.

On Tuesday, and following his talks with US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is ready to retaliate if it faces a threat from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and will not shirk from launching a military campaign if need be.

Erdogan said he told the United States that Ankara would “exercise its rights under the rules of engagement”, without consulting anyone, if needed.

Trump’s administration angered Ankara when it armed the Kurdish militias one week prior to Erdogan’s visit to the US.

Erdogan said he told the United States that Turkey could not be part of the operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS because of the participation of the YPG.

This ended any possibility of Turkey’s participation in the operation, which had always been a demand on condition of excluding Kurdish militias.

The Turkish army has completed preparations for any potential operations against YPG, the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), considered an arm of PKK in Syria, according to military sources.

Anadolu news agency quoted the sources saying that the army is ready to retaliate against potential attacks from the Kurdish forces, from Syria or Iraq.

They added that the Turkish Air Force and ground troops have drawn up plans for cross-border operations.

In addition, alert level has been raised in the military units on the Turkish side opposite the areas controlled by the Kurdish forces in Syria and northern Iraq, the sources noted. The military and the Turkish intelligence are closely following up movements of the Kurds on the borderline.

Both Russia and US expressed their disapproval of Turkey’s airstrike on PKK in Sinjar mountain, northwest Iraq, and YPG in Kratchuk mountain, northeast Syria.

The relationship between the United States and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is a temporary, transactional and tactical one, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen said.

Cohen said Wednesday that current US policy is not to support any kind of autonomous ethnic or sectarian zones in Syria.

“We have not promised the YPG anything. They are in this fight because they want to be in this fight,” he confirmed.

US provided assurances that weapons to be provided to the YPG will only be used to liberate Raqqa from terrorists and not against Turkey.

“We would like the PKK absolutely out of Sinjar but they don’t really control Sinjar. They have a presence there,” he said of the PKK’s activities in the Yazidi area in Iraq.