JERUSALEM, Israel – Turkey said early Tuesday morning that its preparations for an imminent invasion inside northeast Syria have been “completed.”
The Turkish government says the controversial invasion and establishment of a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border is necessary because Ankara “will never tolerate the creation of a terror corridor at our borders,” the defense ministry tweeted.
Turkey considers the Kurdish forces who operate inside northeast Syria to be terrorists due to their ties with Kurdish separatists who challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power in his country. However, the Syrian Kurds are US allies who fought alongside American soldiers in the fight against ISIS.
Erdogan is moving forward with his invasion plans after President Donald Trump said on Sunday that US troops will not intervene to save the Kurds. Trump said his decision was the fulfillment of a campaign promise to stop the “endless war” in Syria and the Middle East. Trump’s decision drew harsh criticism among lawmakers and the Kurdish forces who accused him of abandoning US allies to be slaughtered by Turkey.
After facing heavy backlash on Monday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if Turkish forces go too far and take action he considers “off-limits.”
Turkey’s vice president dismissed Trump’s threats and said on Tuesday that Akara will not bow to Washington’s demands.
“Where Turkey’s security is concerned, we determine our own path but we set our own limits,” Fuat Oktay said.
The International Rescue Committee warned Monday that as many as 300,000 people could be forced from their homes in northeast Syria if Turkey invades.
Among them are more than 100,000 Syrian Christians who fear that Erdogan’s forces will persecute and drive them out as they did during his military campaign in Afrin last year.
Erdogan’s invasion also threatens the future of a newly formed democratic government called the Self Administration of Northeast Syria (SANES). This government was formed to represent all Syrian people and protect their with freedom.
France warned that Trump’s decision to withdraw from northeast Syria could pave the way for an ISIS resurgence. But the US expects Turkey to take responsibility for captive ISIS fighters after the invasion.