Report says Turkey’s anti-DAESH military planning under way

Turkish media reports claim Turkey will launch ground force operation in mid-December against DAESH strongholds in northern Syria under closer coordination with US-led coalition forces

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Members of Syrian opposition group linked to Damascus Front (Shamiyya Front) launch attacks against Daesh terrorists in Herbal village, north of Aleppo, Syria on October 30, 2015.

Turkish media reports have claimed that Turkey will launch an extensive ground operation against DAESH strongholds in northern Syria in mid-December, under close coordination with the US-led coalition forces in order to establish a “refugee zone” in the region.  

Media accounts have said Turkey’s move has particularly been driven by recent DAESH pressure on Marea which is just 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from Turkey’s southern border across its Kilis province.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated in late August that DAESH had taken over several villages including Harjalah in the area between Marea and Azez and “encircled” the opposition-held district of Marea, citing a DAESH announcement.

DAESH is already controlling a zone from Jarablus to Marea along the Turkish border. The group reportedly continued attacking the area between Azaz and Mare, situated in northwestern Syria - controlled by other opposition groups.

The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces have launched an operation to liberate the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar from DAESH terrorists with the support of air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition on Thursday.

The Peshmerga successfully took control of a strategic road that connects Sinjar with Raqqa, DAESH's proclaimed capital in Syria, according to the head of Foreign Relations Hemin Hawrami, at the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.

Ankara takes into account that DAESH groups - are under pressure in northern Syria from Kurdish YPG militias of the PYD - have currently been pushed by the Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq, reinforced by US-led coalition air strikes, could be stuck in an area around Jarablus.

Therefore, Turkey has been planning to move into this territory with a 10,700-strong military force, including its special forces at a depth of 46 kilometres to secure a “refugee zone” for civilians in the areas between Azaz and Jarablus by clearing DAESH from the region, the reports claimed.

The mentioned military units will stand by at seven different regions in the Kilis province along its Syria border expecting the “go” order, the reports added.

However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that "A ground force is something which we have to talk [about] together," in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Nov. 9, signaling that Turkey will coordinate its ground operation against DAESH with the allies.

"There's a need of an integrated strategy including air campaign and ground troops. But Turkey alone cannot take all this burden. If there is a coalition and a very well designed integrated strategy, Turkey is ready to take part in all senses," he emphasised.  

Turkish warplanes hit in late October the DAESH targets which are located in an area around the Harjalah village between Marea and Azez where Turkey and US-led coalition forces have long argued that they are aiming to establish an “ISIS [DAESH]-free zone” following the Incirlik deal between the allies.

Turkey reached a comprehensive agreement with the US government on July 23 to allow its Incirlik Air Base to be used by the US-led coalition forces for air strikes against DAESH, to execute a joint action plan for northern Syrian issues.

Now Turkey, which is hosting the 10th G20 Leaders’ Summit this weekend, will share its “refugee zone” plan with world leaders, aiming to address the growing refugee crisis, according to the media reports.

The proposed refugee zone in northwestern Syria will take over five million refugees for at least ten years, having six grand refugee camps, 11 logistics bases, and 17 safety terminals, according to the Turkish plan.

The country will reportedly seek political and economic support of countries participating in the upcoming G20 summit for the plan.

Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts the most Syrian refugees in the world according to registration records of the United Nations.

Turkey is also a transit point for refugees aiming to reach European countries from Syria because of its geography bridging the Middle East and Europe.

Turkey has spent more than $8 billion of its own resources on the refugees whose number in the country has exceeded 2.2 million people.

TRTWorld and agencies