Turkish forces and allies of Syrian rebels will cross Syria's border "briefly," said Presidential Communications Director Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as Turkey appears to be launching military intervention against Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria.
Turkey is ready to move to northeast Syria after US troops began liberating the area Sunday in a sharp policy change by US President Donald Trump, widely criticized in Washington for betraying US allies, the Kurds.
"The Turkish military, along with the Free Syrian Army, will soon cross the Turkish-Syrian border," Fahretin Altun said in a Washington Post column Wednesday.
"Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to counteract a long-understood threat against Turkish citizens and to free the local population from the yoke of armed thugs," he writes.
The Turkish military was expected to ally with the rebels the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with which it has previously worked in two other operations in northern Syria in recent years .
Altun adds fighters from Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) ̵
Turkey has stated that it intends to create a "safe zone" to return millions of refugees to Syrian land, but the scheme has alarmed as many Western allies and military analysts as the risks posed by the military operation itself.
On Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, quoted by NTV, said that Turkey was preparing and deploying for its planned military offensive.
The Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that "all preparations for the operation" have been completed. Turkish troops have been gathering on the side of the border with Turkey Monday night.
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the Turkish forces were attacking near the border.
"The Turkish army is firing one of our points on the #SereKaniye border with Turkey," the SDF said in a tweet late Tuesday, mentioning the key border city of Ras al-Ain. No injuries reported.
It was one of the places US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, US officials who were not authorized to discuss details of military intelligence told the Associated Press on Tuesday that there were between 5,000 and 10,000 Turkish troops apparently ready to cross.
Officials said they expect the Turks to launch air strikes, followed by heavy artillery barrages along the border and movement of ground forces in Syria.
Charles Stratford of Al Jazeera, reporting by Akkakale on Turkey's border with Syria, said "all evidence indicates that an operation may be inevitable". "
" Last night, we passed dozens of military vehicles heading in that direction – the APC [armoured personal carriers]which we consider to be ammunition trucks and flat-panel trucks carrying tanks, "he said.
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Stratford said buses of soldiers of the Free Syrian Army were also transported from northern Aleppo to Syria across the border into Turkey on Tuesday.
"They are staying in a camp nearby, and it is understood that they will join the Turks in any kind of land operations," he added.
Civilians who have already been in conflict for eight years are concerned.
"If war breaks out, people will be vulnerable and displaced. Where should we go? You ask someone who says we are not leaving. But in the end, we will be displaced, "said Summaiyah Mohammed, a Kurdish citizen in northern Syria, said the Kurdish broadcasting Rudaw.
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that even limited Turkish invasion of northern Syria could quickly escalate.
"The President is doubling. down on that – it seems to be the opposite course, "Schanzer told the AP." He is trying to tell the American people that he has made the right decision. Of course, Erdogan will look at this as a green light.
Tamara Viteses, a senior associate at the Brookings Institution's Middle East Policy Center, also cited a frightening potential blow if Turkey were allowed to attack the Kurds: a mass interruption of prison by ISIL detainees.
Police members are currently completing a series of prisons in Syria containing thousands of ISIL fighters.
These guards would probably rush to the front lines if their comrades were confronted with the existential threat of a Turkish war machine.
"The only foreign policy issue that Americans really care about is terrorism and the fear of terrorism," Vites told AP. "Fear of ISIS 3.0 is very palpable and something that speaks to Americans."