On day one of the new Turkish offensive into northeast Syria, the so-called ‘ Spring of Peace’ operation started spilling out the deaths of local civilian Kurds, and destroying electricity plants, dams, grain silos and other basic infrastructure installations over sways of border territories on the Syrian side. The Turkish onslaught started officially less than 48 hours after US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of some special forces soldiers from Syria; a step regarded by many as an American illicit green light for the Turks to start their planned and much-publicized operation in the area largely controlled by Kurdish factions. Some, theoretically at least, were supposed to be US-allies are now feeling abandoned, betrayed and left alone to face an overwhelming Turkish army. Ankara, according to some reports, has amassed over 100,000 soldiers for the operation, including thousands of pro-Turkish rebels and mercenaries.
Civilians flee en mass as land attack starts
Fearing a growing regional and international outrage at Ankara’s offensive against Syrian Kurds – an outright violation of international law, UN Charter and bilateral agreements with Damascus- the Turkish army seems in a hurry to advance and conclude its operation against Kurdish militia branded as a ‘terrorist organization’ by Ankara; paradoxically, the same militia had been used by Americans to fight ISIS under the very same slogan of ‘fighting terrorism’.
Announcing the launch of the current offensive, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted: “Our aim is to destroy the terror corridor which is trying to be established on our southern border, and to bring peace and peace to the region,”. He may have succeeded in having his way this time around, despite regional and US warnings that this operation against the Kurds should become ‘off-limits’. But Erdogan’s new adventure could prove too costly and easily turn against him and his ruling AK Party once Turkish soldiers start getting back home in body bags as the main Kurdish militias have threatened.
Long disorderly convoys of overloaded civilian cars and motorcycles have been spotted leaving the battlefield following the heavy Turkish bombardment and extensive air raids targeting Ras al-Ain, Tal Abyad and scores of other border towns and villages on the first day of the Turkish ‘Spring of Peace’. The first confirmed victims of Ankara’s aggression in northeastern Syria today were 4 Kurdish civilians; a woman and her three children taken out by a Turkish airstrike. Thousands are still trying to flee to safety along gridlocked roads amid chaotic scenes of fear and despair as the Turkish operation unfolded. The main refugee destination was reported to be the regional city of Hassakah itself.
SDF says it has repelled initial turkish incursion
Following a long first day of veracious Turkish shelling and round-the-clock air raids which have targeted , along with some Kurdish military bases and fortifications, a dam in Derik which provides water for hundreds of thousands of civilians in the area, a main power plant, telecommunication towers and centers and even a prison holding ISIS detainees according to SDF, the Turkish land forces attempted to cross into the Syrian side from the Tal Abyad axis. SDF sources claimed that its forces had managed to thwart the Turkish incursion attempt, and that the invaders withdrew back to the Turkish side after fierce resistance by Kurdish fighters.
Kurds have earned a reputation as hardcore experienced and well-polished guerrilla warriors, having been involved in fierce battles against ISIS and the Turkish army over the years. Prior to, and at the outset of the Turkish offensive, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, had pledged to take on the invading Turkish army, despite an unequal balance of military might in Turkey’s favor. Many Kurds regard their confrontation of the invading Turkish army and its puppets as a ‘war for survival’ that, if lost, could easily sell out any potential dream of an independent Kurdish entity in northeast Syria once and for all.
Initial regional and international reactions
Outrage, denunciation and condemnation of the Turkish aggression against Syria and its Kurdish population along the borders with Turkey were strong and quick to come. Apart from the ‘humane’ Turkish aggression, President Trump mentioned when debating the issue as bipartisan US legislators were working on a bill to sanction Turkey’s economy, other politicians, leaders and nations were much tougher, clearer and outright in their response.
US Senator Lindsey Graham, at regular loggerheads with Trump, called it “a disaster in the making”. France issued a strong condemnation of the Turkish offensive in Syria. Calling on the UN Security Council to intervene, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tweeted: “I condemn the unilateral operation launched by Turkey in Syria.” Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Cyprus and other countries have rejected the Turkish invasion which breaches Syria’s sovereignty and posed ” a direct and serious threat to safety and security in the region”. Finland denounced the Turkish act of aggression and called for a complete and immediate stop on arms supplies to Turkey.