It’s Day 5 of Operation Olive Branch in Syrian Kurdistan. There have been no significant changes in the security situation in northern Syria, but Turkey began carrying out its threat to attack Manbij.
Turkish President Erdogan said he plans to “foil games along our borders starting from Manbij.” He said that Turkey would “clean our region from this trouble completely.”
The Turks promise the ‘mother of all wars’ in Manbij since they had their asses handed to them in Afrin. (yada-yada-yada)
Attacks on Manbij will be a test of intentions for all parties. The Syrian Kurds plan to resist the Turks there, they’re well armed, supplied, and morale is high.
To break the Kurdish resistance, the Turkish aircraft must supply close support to the armor and fly low… or they need to send dismounted infantry forward and that means a LOT of dead Turks (and their Syrian allies). What to do?
Erdoğan underlined that the operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, sources said.
The Turkish military said on Wednesday, the 24th, that 260 Kurdish and Islamic State (ISIL) fighters were killed. You can always tell when things aren’t going well when they multiply the body count by 10x(+)
Turkish Modification – The political isolation and negative blowback have prompted the Turks to modify their propaganda about the targets of the Operation. Now the Turks are talking about killing Islamic State fighters. The Turks have always identified the Syrian Kurds as terrorists, but the Operation was aimed initially at Syrian supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In the past two days, daily situation reports always include Islamic State targets struck and fighters killed. However, last March, Erdogan claimed that Operation Euphrates Shield succeeded in clearing Islamic State fighters from the border zone.
The Syrian Kurds in Afrin insisted the Islamic State never had a presence in Afrin and still has none. In other regions, the Kurds drove the Islamic State fighters down to Raqqa.
Another addition to the Turkish list of justifications is refugees. The latest purpose of Operation Olive Branch is to prepare a safe zone for 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey to resettle in northern Syria. This is the humanitarian dimension of Olive Branch
Analysis: Turkish strong man Erdoğan, could order the entire Turkish Army into Syria, accept that he’ll loose 1/3 of his expensive German made tanks (or more) and tens of thousands of soldiers. But he doesn’t want to do that because even with those losses, “winning” may not be the outcome. I expect that General Mattis is sitting back, eating popcorn, and watching the show.
If the Turks sent their entire army into Syria, the Syrians wouldn’t sit on the sidelines. They’d have to do something about a general invasion and then their Russian allies…and so forth would be involved.