Syrian rebels say ready to join Turkish operations in northern Syria

Pro-Turkey Syrian fighters and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (AP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are ready to join Turkey’s operation against the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Reuters cited two senior commanders as saying orders were given to heads of units of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) to take an offensive stance as the Turkish military step up mortar shelling and drone strikes in areas under the control of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“Readiness can happen in a day or two. There are thousands of fighters ready to participate alongside the Turkish military,” Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a prominent Syrian opposition commander told Reuters.

A Syrian opposition military officer said two main goals were Tal Rafaat and Kobani, whose capture would allow Turkey to link the towns of Jarablus and Tal Abyad it now controls, according to Reuters.

On May 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would launch a cross-border operation against the YPG, which Ankara considers a “terrorist group” linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Regional sources say Turkey which sees the YPG as a “terrorist group” has at least 18,000 troops inside Syrian, Reuters reported.

The United States has expressed concern at any new offensive in northern Syria, saying it would undermine regional stability and put U.S. troops at risk.

Turkish forces have launched three major incursions into northern Syria, taking control of areas along the border in a bid to secure its frontier from threats from Islamic State (ISIS) and the YPG.

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