QAMISHLI – Turkey sent on Saturday new military reinforcements to its army forces and allied rebel groups in the Syrian northern city of Jarablus.
The Turkish support comes as its army forces and allied Syrian rebel group of the Euphrates Shield Brigades continued their military operations in northern Syria after capturing the city of Jarablus from ISIS.
Dozens of Turkish tanks and armoured vehicles arrived in Jarablus on Saturday midnight, according to military sources.
Turkey’s army said in a statement on Saturday that the new military reinforcements are aimed at intensifying anti-terrorism efforts on the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Eliminating terrorism in northern Syria means securing Turkey’s southern border areas, and we will do whatever it takes in order to accomplish the objective of our current operations there,” the Turkish central command said.
However, according to Syrian local activists, the Turkish army forces and allied rebel groups have taken Jarablus on 24 August without any resistance from ISIS.
“Turkey-backed rebels and the Turkish army captured the city of Jarablus from ISIS without a fight, which confirms that there are undeclared agreements between Turkey and ISIS,” Ali Battal, member of the Syrian National Democratic Union, told ARA News.
Subsequent to the Turkish advance in Jarablus, clashes erupted between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the pro-Turkey factions.
“After invading Jarablus city, Turkey tries to cut off the YPG-SDF supply routes in northern Syria and prevent those forces from eliminating ISIS terrorists,” Battal said.
Turkey Vows Long Fight in Syria
Turkish troops to remain in Syria for as long as it takes to “eradicate terrorists” on its southern border, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement on Friday.
“We will continue our operations (in Syria) until we fully guarantee security of life and property for our citizens and the security of our border. We will continue until Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist elements are taken out,” the Turkish MP said.
This comes after the Turkish army and allied Syrian rebel groups stormed the city of Jarabulus and allegedly expelled militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) from the city last Wednesday.
However, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) –that have recently liberated the city of Manbij from ISIS after nearly three months of clashes– said that ISIS has handed over Jarabulus to Turkey within hours without any resistance.
Turkey has also vowed to continue fighting Kurdish rebels both on its soil and in Syria, considering them a threat to the territorial integrity of both countries.
“From the beginning we have been defending Turkey’s territorial integrity. We are also defending Syria’s territorial integrity. The aim of these terrorist organisations is… to form a state in these countries… They will never succeed,” Yildirim told reporters in Istanbul.
“We’re cleansing ISIS and other terrorist elements (in northern Syria) so people living there are not forced to leave their homes. But the problem has to be comprehensively handled at the EU level. Solutions are needed quickly,” he added.
According to local source, the commander of Turkey’s second army responsible for the borders with Syria and Iraq, Ismail Metin, visited Jarabulus on Friday.
In the meantime, US Vice President Joe Biden, who met Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, said Turkey was ready to stay in Syria “for as long as it takes to destroy ISIS”.
Bombing anti-ISIS Forces in Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that the Turkish army on Monday shelled their positions with heavy artillery.
Backed by the US-led coalition, the Kurdish-Arab SDF alliance is deemed the main force fighting the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Syria.
“The Turkish state officially supports Daesh and bombs the positions of the Manbij military council and its countryside in the northern axis of the defence positions at Sajur river,” SDF spokesperson Sharvan Darwish said on Monday.
The pro-Turkish government newspaper Daily Sabah claimed that Turkey hit both ISIS and ‘PYD targets’ –in reference to Kurdish forces– in northern Manbij.
Speaking to ARA News, Nicholas Heras, a Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, said that Turkey wants to prevent SDF advances against ISIS.
“Turkey has a vested interest in making sure that the SDF remains aware that nothing is sustainable in northern Syria without the Turks’ longterm buy-in,” he said.
“This is their way of signaling that, without forcing Turkey to invest in a ground campaign in Syria,” Heras added.
‘Grave for Erdogan Troops’
Meanwhile, the Kurdish-backed Shahba Council said that after the Turkish intervention in northern Syria, the town of Jarabulus will become a ‘grave for the criminal occupier Erdogan and his mercenaries.’
The statement is another sign of the increasing tensions between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Turkey-backed rebels of the Euphrates Shield Brigades.
The SDF set up the council of Shahba region in northern Aleppo, which is now under ISIS control, in a bid to establish institutions in preparation for the post-ISIS phase.
This comes after the SDF set up councils for the cities of al-Bab and Jarabulus to run border territories in northern Aleppo after liberation.
However, now Turkey threatens to control parts of these areas in northern Syria after capturing Jarabulus on 24 August. The Turkish plan is to prevent the Kurds from connecting the cantons of Kobane to Afrin.
“After pushing out terrorism from most of northern Syria and liberating Manbij, Turkey show its expansionist intentions to occupy,” the Jarabulus council said in a statement. “This is an attempt of renewing the 500 years of Ottoman occupation of Rojava and the Arab countries in the battle of Marj Dabiq.”
Source: ARA News
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