Turkey has launched a military invasion of northern Syria targeting US-backed Kurdish militias.
The Turkish attack was prompted by President Trump’s decision to withdraw US Special Forces helping the Kurdish militias fight Islamic State across Syria and Iraq. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) now hold thousands of Islamic State fighters captured during the recent fighting.
Air strikes were followed by a statement from the Turkish defence ministry that its ground troops, backed by pro-Turkish militias in the area, had crossed the border east of the River Euphrates.
Turkish President Recip Erdogan said ‘Operation Peace Spring’ would eradicate what he called the “threat of terror” against his country. Pesident Erdogan said: “Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border.”
Turkey also plans to relocate millions of Syrians who fled to Turkey during the Syrian Civil War in the Kurdish border areas.
Despite the decision to withdraw US Special Forces, President Trump said: “The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea.” He also said that Turkey was now responsible for ensuring Islamic State fighters held by the SDF remained in prison camps and that the organisation “does not reconstitute in any way, shape or form.”
Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish militias whom it considers terrorists. Despite factional rivalry among Kurdish political groupings, recent Western intervention in the Middle East has given them hope that a Kurdish State could be carved out across Syria and Iraq.
Moreover, thanks to mass immigration, large numbers of Kurds and Turks live across Western Europe and have frequently clashed in the past over events in the Middle East. If the war escalates between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Syria, fighting could easily spread to the streets of Brussels, Berlin or London. Over one million Kurds (50,000 in the UK alone) and nearly four million Turks (nearly half a million in the UK) currently live across Europe
President Erdogan has also threatened to send millions of Syrian ‘refugees’ into Europe should his plan to relocate them into northern Syria be rebuffed or stopped instantly triggering another 2015-style migrant crisis across the EU.