Turkey moves closer to an invasion of northern Syria as the terrorist threat from Islamic State grows

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There is considerable concern about this Turkey’s planned ground invasion of Syria to root out the US-allied Kurds could open the floodgates for the release of thousands of imprisoned Islamic State terrorists.

Syrian Kurdish forces have imprisoned thousands of ISIS terrorists from more than 50 countries in prisons in northeastern Syria.

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said Wednesday: “The recent airstrikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of U.S. personnel working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and maintain custody of more than 10,000 ISIS prisoners.”

Democratic Union Party/Kurdistan Workers' Party positions hit by Turkey's Pence-Kilic operation in the Maranez village of Tel Rifaat on November 24, 2022 in Azaz, Syria.

Democratic Union Party/Kurdistan Workers’ Party positions hit by Turkey’s Pence-Kilic operation in the Maranez village of Tel Rifaat on November 24, 2022 in Azaz, Syria.
(Photo by Ibrahim Mase/ slide images via Getty Images)

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Turkey recently launched airstrikes targeting the Syrian-Kurdish military organization –The People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared “This is not limited to just an air campaign,” adding: “We will consult with our Ministry of Defense and General Staff and decide together what our ground forces should contribute to and then take our steps accordingly. ” Earlier, Turkey’s defense minister was quoted by the country’s media as saying the operation was continuing with around 326 enemy combatants killed so far.

Combating a resurgence of the Islamic State terrorist movement remains a top priority for the US military. The US formed an alliance with the YPG to oust ISIS, while the conflict between Erdogan and the Kurdish forces in Syria may move from a local conflict to a full-blown war.

Ryder noted that an “Immediate de-escalation is necessary to maintain focus on the defeat-ISIS mission and ensure the safety and security of personnel on the ground committed to defeating the ISIS mission.”

Turkish Embassy officials in Washington told Fox News Digital that “We have repeatedly pointed out threats to our national security posed by the PKK/YPG terrorist network in Syria and Iraq. We have always called for unequivocal and genuine solidarity against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

Turkish President and Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is greeted by his party members before addressing a rally at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara on November 23, 2022.

Turkish President and Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is greeted by his party members before addressing a rally at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara on November 23, 2022.
(Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Turkish diplomat added, “However, the terrorist organization continued its attacks, recently targeting innocent civilians in the heart of Istanbul. As a result of the attack committed on November 13, 2022, 6 civilians were killed and 81 injured.”

The US government has classified the PKK as a terrorist organization, but sees the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against the Islamic State.

Ned Price, the the US Department of State The spokesman said recently: “We express our sincere condolences for the loss of civilian life that has occurred in Syria and Turkey” and called for an “immediate de-escalation.”

Intensive Turkish air and drone strikes have killed Syrian Kurds and pulverized critical industries in northern Syria. Sinam Mohamad, the representative of the Syrian Democratic Council in the United States, told Fox News Digital.

Mohamad said the region’s Arabs, Christians and Kurds, who make up the area’s 5 million people, are “suffering”.

Women attend the al-Hol camp, which houses around 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group.

Women attend the al-Hol camp, which houses around 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group.
(AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

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She added that Turkey has bombed the region 47 times from November 19 to 23, and the airstrikes killed six soldiers from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)including two anti-terrorist soldiers trained by the US military.

Mohamad, who is in contact with Syrians on the ground in the conflict zone, said Turkish forces have killed 15 civilians since the start of this round of airstrikes. “Turkey is now targeting vital infrastructure, power plants, grain silos and oil and gas infrastructure.”

She claimed that the Turks attacked a hospital and that they “targeted very close to an ISIS prison. Imagine if they targeted the prison and the people fled. It’s a very critical situation. The international community and the UN should intervene to to prevent Turkey from destabilizing the region.”

A leading expert on Turkey, Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, cast considerable doubt on Turkey’s rationalization for launching its latest attack.

He claimed that “The latest terrorist attack on Istanbul was carried out by Syrian forces who were unhappy with Turkey’s U-turn because Turkey signaled that it was willing to normalize relations with [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” he told Fox News Digital.

He added, “Erdogan knows that it would be much easier to do that punish the Kurds instead of punishing Syrians. We know that the Free Syrian Army is considered an ally of Turkey. If the Free Syrian Army was labeled as responsible [for the terror attack in Istanbul]his foreign policy doctrine would collapse.”

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The pro-Kurdish party, The People’s Democratic Party, in the Turkish parliament tabled a motion requesting an investigation into the Istanbul attack. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, along with his ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, rejected the investigation.

All Kurdish military forces in Syria, as well as the PKK, have flatly denied responsibility for the terrorist attack in Istanbul. Speaking exclusively to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, the head of the SDF, General Mazloum Abdi, claimed the Istanbul bomber was from the Islamic State.

Turkey has captured a Syrian Arab woman which Turkish authorities said confessed to the bombing. Erdogan has been accused of showing sympathy for radical Islamists operating in northern Syria.

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish political analyst and research fellow for the Philos Project, told Fox News Digital: “If Kobane falls to Turkey, Turkey will occupy it along with jihadist organizations, as they also do in other Syrian cities such as Idlib and Afrin. Of course , these Turkish military strikes against the SDF will weaken the fight against ISIS in the region.”

According to Bulut, “the Turkish regime must be fully aware that such an occupation only helps ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups in the region.”

A Turkish official rejected such an argument, telling Fox News Digital that “We are the only NATO ally that has boots on the ground and fought against DAESH [Islamic State] chest-to-chest since the beginning.”

People inspect a site damaged by Turkish airstrikes that hit an electricity station in the village of Taql Baql in Hasakeh province, Syria, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week's deadly bombing on a busy street in Istanbul.

People inspect a site damaged by Turkish airstrikes that hit an electricity station in the village of Taql Baql in Hasakeh province, Syria, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week’s deadly bombing on a busy street in Istanbul.
(AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

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Turkey’s foreign policy stature has gained greater currency within the Biden administration since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute, said, “Turkey is helping Ukraine militarily” against Russia.

Turkey furnished Ukraine with 50 mine-resistant vehicles. Erdogan’s government has also sold the Bayraktar TB2 drone to Ukraine. The unmanned aerial vehicle carries laser-guided bombs. The Turkish drone has been a powerful weapon in pounding Russian forces.

Even in light of Turkey’s improved international reputation, Cagaptay does not see the Biden administration leaving the Syrian Kurds out to dry. “Turkey’s importance to the United States has increased, and that does not mean [the] The US has completely abandoned the YPG.”

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