Syrian rebels said on Sunday they were ready to join Turkish troops in a possible new offensive threatened by Turkey against Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria to retake Arab-majority towns and villages held by the forces. run by the Kurds.
Two senior commanders said orders had been given to Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) unit leaders to adopt an offensive position as the Turkish military intensified mortar shelling and attacks. drone strikes on YPG-controlled territory.
“Preparation can be done in a day or two. There are thousands of fighters ready to participate alongside the Turkish army,” Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a prominent Syrian opposition commander, told Reuters.
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Ankara would soon launch new military operations along its southern borders to create safe zones 30 km (20 miles) deep to fight what he described as terrorist threats from these regions.
Ankara has carried out three incursions into northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of miles of land and pushing some 30km deep into the country, in operations mainly targeting the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia backed by the military. United States.
Ankara, which regional intelligence sources say has at least 18,000 troops in Syria, says the YPG is linked to an insurgency on Turkish territory.
Two main targets are Tal Rafaat, a town where thousands of Arabs have been displaced, and Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town, the capture of which would allow Turkey to link the towns of Jarablus and Tal Abyad which it now controls. said a Syrian opposition military officer.
Turkey last week dismantled parts of a concrete wall near Kobani that Ankara had built along the 911 km long border with Syria, in a bid to push forces into the border town, reports said. said two rebellious sources.
A senior opposition commander in contact with the Turkish military, however, said he was uncertain if the military operation would start soon, adding that it could be postponed until “further notice”.
Erdogan’s vow to undertake the incursion coincides with Turkey raising the stakes in its line with NATO partners over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.
Washington has expressed concern over any new offensive in northern Syria, saying it would undermine regional stability and put US troops at risk.
A YPG source who is not authorized to speak publicly said at least several thousand troops have been redeployed and sent to Kobani and other towns under threat.
“All options are open in the next few days,” he said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday they were taking “necessary measures” to deal with a “potential invasion”.
The YPG, which sought Russian help to halt a Turkish advance in a previous incursion, has conducted joint patrols near the frontline with Turkish-backed rebels in recent days, it said. he adds.
Moscow was also sending more military flights to Qamishli airport where the YPG remained under Syrian army control, even though the city itself is under its control, another Kurdish source said.
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