Turkey Begins Air and Ground Operations

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Turkey Begins Aerial Operations Against Syrian YPG Kurds

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Turkish cross-border shelling of Kurdish fighter positions in Afrin began two days ago.

On Saturday, things escalated, Erdogan saying military operations “actively beg(an)” in Afrin, adding:

“(P)romises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary” – referring to Washington’s assurance that YPG fighters would move out of Afrin.

On January 18 and 19, Turkey’s military chief General Hulusi Akar and intelligence head Hakan Fidan met with Russian chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov in Moscow.

Russia has military forces in Afrin. On Friday, Lavrov said they’re not leaving ahead of planned Turkish military operations in the area.

Remaining leaves them in harm’s way. Russia controls Syrian airspace. Gerasimov must have agreed not to interfere with Turkey’s air operations. Otherwise its warplanes would risk being shot down.

On Saturday, Turkey announced the start of Operation Olive Branch, its cross-border aggression belying the offensive’s name.

On Saturday, AMN news reported Turkish warplanes attacking Kurdish YPG positions in Afrin, targeting areas it controls, including its Al-Malikiyah headquarters, reportedly destroyed.

“Today’s airstrikes by the Turkish Air Force marks the first time this year that Ankara has launched an aerial attack over this Kurdish enclave in northern Syria,” AMN explained.

Southfront reported Turkish warplanes attacking YPG positions in Shero, Shra, Jandarseh and Afrin, along with destroying targets in Tall Rifat and Menagh.

Turkish ground operations could follow any time, its offensive upping the stakes in confrontation with Russia, Syria and Washington.

US-supported Kurdish fighters vowed to defend themselves, armed with heavy weapons supplied by Washington.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it’s monitoring things in northern Syria closely, taking steps to protect its forces in Afrin, a statement saying:

“According to the incoming reports, on January 20, Turkey started using the units of its armed forces near Afrin in northwestern Syria.”

“The Turkish General Staff has announced that the Turkish military shelled the positions of the Syrian Kurds in response to provocative shelling by militants of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party.”

“Moscow has received this information with concern. We are closely monitoring the development of the situation.”

Moscow supports Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and right of its people to choose their leadership, free from foreign interference – affirmed by Security Council resolutions Washington breached repeatedly.

Instead of winding down years of conflict, US and Turkish belligerence escalated it.

Both countries seek a permanent presence in Syria – flagrant violation of international law.

How Russia intends dealing with what’s ongoing remains unclear – other than continuing to go all-out for diplomatic conflict resolution.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.