Understanding the upcoming operation east of the Euphrates in Syria - MEHMET ACET

Understanding the upcoming operation east of the Euphrates in Syria

Turkish President Erdoğan on Wednesday announced the upcoming military operation, and, this time, set a specific period.

He said, “Turkey will start a new military operation east of the Euphrates River in Syria a few days.”

It was meaningful that the announcement was made during the Turkish Defense Industry Summit at the Beştepe Presidential Complex.

Since the words “a few days” were used, we can now start the countdown for the launch of the operation.

On Monday in this column, we said that according to the information we got from the military sources, “The preparations for an operation in the east of Euphrates were complete.” There is some benefit in repeating some information, especially that everyone’s focus is now on this matter since Erdoğan’s announcement:

According to the information, the operation will be carried out with “point shots.”

The borderline, which is longer than 500 kilometers, known as the east of the Euphrates, is completely within the target are of the Turkish Armed Forces.

All the points, which are about 150, where PKK/YPG groups deployed are already detected.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) have the capability to shoot all these targets from the air and ground without entering Syrian airspace and territory.

War jets can strike targets from a 30-kilometer depth in the air, and howitzers can strike up to a depth of 40 kilometers on the ground.

How would the U.S. react?

Developments in north Syria and the east of Euphrates have always been on the top of the list for Ankara as a potential source of a threat since the U.S.-backed PKK/YPG terror structure appeared in the region.

President Erdoğan’s question asking who those weapons would be used against in the future were the natural result of perceiving the threat regarding the thousands of arms-filled trucks sent to the YPG by the U.S. and their efforts to establish a 60,000-strong army.

Also, remember the night of April 17, 2017, when an effective operation was carried out with about 45 fighter jets in the Qarachok region, which remains within the area we mentioned above.

However, because of the pressures from the U.S. side, it was not possible to proceed further.

The idea of an operation east of Euphrates has never been off the table in the security-related meetings conducted in Ankara.

However, the two latest developments which triggered the start of the operation should be recalled.

1- The attempt of the U.S. to establish observation posts next to Turkey’s border. Although authorities speaking for Washington made a foolish explanation for the posts, saying that they wanted to prevent possible threats against Turkey, it was obvious that the real reason behind this action was to prevent any Turkish operation against the YPG.

2- U.S. Commander in Chief Joseph Dunford’s statement, saying “35,000-40,000 local forces need to be trained to provide stability”, implying the YPG-occupied regions, must have triggered the idea that action should be taken before it is too late.

Well, is it possible that the statements of President Erdoğan could have been delivered to the U.S. authorities before it was declared to the public?

We know that, recently, there has been a communication traffic going on between Ankara and Washington about these matters.

For instance, the visit of James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative for Syria, to Ankara.

During this visit, the operation plan for the east of Euphrates must have been disclosed to him, whether directly or implicitly.

Of course, it is certain that this will not make the U.S. happy.

However, one should not expect that they would gather their armies and fight against Turkey alongside the YPG.

Notice-based contact with the US

Yesterday, a sentence in the speech of President Erdogan declaring that the operation will begin in few days was striking: "Turkey's target is never U.S. soldiers but rather the members of the terror group."

This statement means that during the operation it will be this criteria which the army will be most careful about, and it will avoid any kind of action which would risk the lives of American soldiers.

One hour before the operation to Qarachok in April 2017, the coordinate of the targets were delivered to U.S. authorities, and they were asked to abstain from deploying soldiers in those areas.

This is called a “notice-based operation.”

A similar method may also be followed now.

These notices can be made by determining a time period which would not risk the lives of U.S. soldiers and also not give the YPG leeway.

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