Turkey has a great potential to carry out a new military incursion to Tal Rifaat since the western bloc is unlikely to oppose such operations when it needs Ankara’s support for Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO, reported Reuters.
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced his military plan, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an airstrike against regions in north and east Syria predominantly under the control of Kurdish forces.
Stating that Tal Rifaat is located north of Aleppo city and just south of Azaz in Syria, Reuters analysts Daren Butler and Maya Gebeily said that an operation there alone would not represent a widening of Turkey’s “safe zones” along the border, but would push its forces deeper into Syria.
Dareen Khalifa, specialist on Syria at the International Crisis Group, said that it is unclear whether Erdoğan was planning an operation in Tal Rifaat or further east, but she highlighted the role of the town.
“Tal Rifaat, if anything, can get him what he wants and it would avoid triggering a huge headache. I don’t think the Americans care about Tal Rifaat,” said Khalifa, adding that Russia had not been addressing its concerns on militant attacks on Turkish-controlled areas from Tal Rifaat.
Nevertheless, the Khalifa said that it is not of any interest to Turkey to get stuck in Kobanê, as in 2014, adding that any attack on Kobanê would also risk triggering a strong reaction from Turkey’s Kurds, who make up some 20 percent of the country’s population.
The analysts said that the incursion plans reflected Erdoğan’s belief that the West would not oppose such operations when it needs Ankara’s support for the Nordic countries’ bid to join NATO.
Meanwhile, Chris Van Hollen, the US Senator for Maryland shared Reuters’ news. He said, ”Erdoğan has been saying for months that #Turkey would attack our Syrian Kurdish allies who led the fight against ISIS (see below). No one should be fooled now that he is doing so. Biden Admin should speak out forcefully”.
Here we go again. Erdogan has been saying for months that #Turkey would attack our Syrian Kurdish allies who led the fight against ISIS (see below). No one should be fooled now that he is doing so. Biden Admin should speak out forcefully. https://t.co/R9PhosHUkJ
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) November 20, 2022
Also Frank Pallone, the US representative for New Jersey’s 6th congressional district said that, “Erdoğan bombed civilian infrastructure, including a hospital. This is yet another reason why I am working to block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. Erdoğan’s pattern of aggression shows that we cannot trust him with US military equipment.”
Erdogan bombed civilian infrastructure, including a hospital. This is yet another reason why I am working to block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. Erdogan's pattern of aggression shows that we cannot trust him with U.S. military equipment.https://t.co/rAQc6KqF3D
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) November 20, 2022
Süleyman Soylu, the Turkish Interior Minister and many state-run media outlets had blamed the Kurdish forces in Syria for the 13 November fatal explosion in central Istanbul, though the allegations are denied.
Last week, the Turkish Yeni Şafak newspaper reported that the most critical target would now be Tal Rifaat, some 15 km (9 miles) from the Turkish border, which it said Kurdish fighters used as a base from which to launch attacks in the Afrin, Azaz and Jarablus areas controlled by Turkey and Ankara-backed Syrian fighters, reported Reuters.