Turkey is short of military strength to achieve Erdogan’s ambitious goals in Syria

The Turkish push into northeastern Syria started with the aim of conquering three border towns, Ras al-Ayn, Tel Abyad and Ain al Issa, held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). By Saturday, Oct. 12, Day 4, that triple object proved beyond the Turkish army’s strength without bringing in substantial foot and armored reinforcements and incurring many casualties, say DEBKAfile’s military sources. Turkey therefore decided to start with two targets, grabbing the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn and sections of the key M4 highway near Ain al Issa. (On Saturday afternoon, Turkish sources claimed that the town had fallen.) If Ras al-Ayn was really in their hands, which other sources deny, Turkish troops would be able to surround and overwhelm the SDF force defending the town of Kobani.

To prevent this happening, the US last week sent a small Marine force to take up position in the northeast town of Kobani and on the hill overlooking the M4. On Friday, this force came under Turkish artillery fire, which caused no harm. Turkey claimed it was “a mistake,” which is hard to believe since the Turkish officers have detailed maps of the locations of US forces in the region. At all events, by Saturday, M4 had not been captured by the Turks.

The tactic employed by the Turkish high command, given the small number of troops provided for Recep Edrogan’s Peace Spring Operation, is to aim for an important local victory in one sector, before moving on. The SDF have, in contrast, opened up five separate fronts on the Syrian-Turkish border and were shelling Turkish border villages and towns. There have been scores of casualties on both sides, and tens of thousands of refugees fleeing affected locations, but none of the various figures published are credible.
The Turkish-Kurdish contest has so far refrained from more than exploratory skirmishes, say DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources. The coming days will reveal whether it is likely to develop into a long-term confrontation. Some 140,000 well-armed SDF Kurdish fighters are dug in along a 300km front east of the River Euphrates. They have set up a defense line which is heavily fortified and barricaded, studded with anti-tank traps and supplied with plentiful ammo stores.

The Turkish force in Syria are present is too small to tackle this Kurdish force. To raise an army equal to the task of smashing the Kurds, Turkey would need a large-scale military call-up, and even then, might be short of manpower for the task. The Turks are further constrained by the refusal of both the US and Russia to allow their air force to operate in northern Syrian air space, thereby hobbling their ability to advance very far across the Euphrates.
Erdogan’s operation has been severely limited by Washington and Moscow to establishing a 200km-long, 30km-deep, safe zone along a section of the Syrian-Turkish border, from which most SDF forces were withdrawn last September. This was agreed in a phone conversation President Donald Trump held with Erdogan last Saturday, Oct. 5.

But the Turkish president has a more ambitious plan. He wants to make it impossible for Syria’s Kurds to establish an autonomous state. That objective is still way out of Ankara’s reach. Even its initial foray is hedged around by restrictions and deadlines. Turkey’s generals have no more than four or five days to achieve their first objective, before US lawmakers endorse sanctions against Erdogan, his generals and the Turkish economy. Pressure is ramping up on President Trump, including from his own Republican Party, to stop the Turkish operation in Syria.
Another date looming is Nov. 13, when Trump and Erdogan have scheduled a meeting.

In the coming weeks, too, the process may be kicked off for Syrian President Bashar Assad and SDF leaders to conclude a military pact that opens the door for Syrian military forces to enter Kurdish territory. Initial contacts to prepare these negotiations are underway. President Vladimir Putin is all in favor of any steps that restore the Assad regime’s authority to all parts of country.

These and other events yet to come take some of the steam out of the Turkish ruler’s belligerent threats and the Kurds’ cries of an imminent slaughter, (which also serve Binyamin Netanyahu’s rivals as campaign fodder for drawing a straight line from Donald Trump’s putative desertion of the Syrian Kurds and Israel’s low expectations from his friend in the White House).

As matters stand now, there are no signs of an imminent Kurdish collapse in the early stages of the Turkish thrust into northeast Syria. They are well prepared for war with the Turkish army and, armed with good stocks of US-supplied weapons, are pursuing the correct tactics for meeting the current threat.

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60 thoughts on “Turkey is short of military strength to achieve Erdogan’s ambitious goals in Syria

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 16:50 at 16:50

    As Known & Planned By President Trump. The Kurdish PKK In Turkey Is An Marxist Organization & Why Loses Support From America. While Other Kurdish Mostly Sunnis Are Protected In Syria! The Turkey, Russia, & Iran Alliance Are An Ineffective Mirage Of Power In The Middle East But Globally Very Weak! Power Splits Up Allies That Wears Out In The End! Once Kurds Given Javelin Anti-Tank Weapons Turkey Tanks Cooked!

    • Oct 13, 2019 @ 2:54 at 2:54

      Turkey is anti – Semitic genocidal islamic terror state supporting Hamas, ISIS and buy Irans oil. erDOGan is an idio t obsessed with Israels destruction. Creation of kurdish state in Eastern Turkey will put an end to the ottoman dream for Jerushalaym.

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 17:16 at 17:16

    ‘…defending the town of Kobani’

    oy vey, such accounting!

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 17:20 at 17:20

    ‘…plentiful ammo stores’

    oy vey, such air superiority!

    • Oct 12, 2019 @ 17:46 at 17:46

      Article is not what the reality is. Turkey prepared this for longer than one year. Turkey has an army who can fight 6 front at a time. You think they are not prepared for this? Overwhelmingly power and sophisticated weapon systems, who most of them are locally produced. This is an very easy task for Turkish army. But however, they don’t want to harm civilians, and fullfil this operation with care. Turkish army is the only army in the region, and perhaps one of the selected armies in the world who can do this. This is because of: very well experienced, training, weapon systems. In maybe the most important : what Atatürk said: turkey is not a nation with an army. But an army with a nation!!!!

      • Oct 12, 2019 @ 19:52 at 19:52

        What a load of rubbish. Turkey does not use it’s Army, it uses it’s Proxies to fight it’s wars/invasions these days. Just like they did at Al Bab and Afrin. Once Turkey’s “Islamist Jihadi” trained Proxies and in this case its the Syrian National Army which is part of the Free Syrian Army have eventually managed (that’s a big IF) to subdue their objectives then and only then will the Turkish Army send in it’s troops.. Do you understand? If you think that the Turkish Army/Air Force Support is Turkey using it’s Infantry you are absolutely deluded. Erdogan knows full well that scores of Turkish Infantry coming home in Body Bags will see him kicked out of office real quick thus why “the spineless lunatic” sends his proxies in to do his dirty work. All the atrocities that those Turkish trained islamist maniacs cause can be denied because they’re not Turkish troops killing Kurds. UNDERSTAND!

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 10:47 at 10:47

          Yes, thank you.

      • Oct 13, 2019 @ 16:23 at 16:23

        Ataturk is long gone. Erdogan is like the last Ottoman emperor, Abdul Hamid II, who banned the use of the term H2O in Turkish books, because he thought it was a secret code for Hamid II= zero

      • Oct 13, 2019 @ 20:05 at 20:05

        Turkglish such fluency, much elegance. Doge approves. Debka loses in credibility , by allowing illiterate and stupid comments. Please guys moderate this idiocy.

      • Oct 14, 2019 @ 0:10 at 0:10

        That’s not what the article said. The article said that Erdogan underestimated and committed too few troops. He made a tactical error. There may be constraints on him committing more troops, such as, as you say, risk of harming too many civilians, and losing popular support at home.

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 17:48 at 17:48

    President Trump brilliantly smashes Democrats.
    Against Trump to the Democrats, money is flowing river from the EU, China, India and Iran. Bibi actively prevented Trump from becoming President. A “successful” impeachment seems to end in a civil war involving the police, army, population, and intelligence services.

    One gets the impression that Bibi is less interested in Israeli life than indirectly criticising President Trump.
    There are a good hundred peoples in the world in a situation similar to the Kurd’s.
    Bibi imagined himself Napoleon, Promises to “help” the Kurd’s in the war against Turkey. In Turkey, Kurd’s from 1.5 to 5 million people. Most Kurd’s practice Islam.
    Can’t the Great Napoleon help the Israelite whom they kill every day? Beggar? For the disabled? Orphans?
    The time is approaching the reckoning of Israel for the defeatist policies of Bibi.
    Or you should believe in beautiful tales of Bibi about his “future victories” as With Hamas.

    • Oct 12, 2019 @ 18:58 at 18:58


      • Oct 12, 2019 @ 19:34 at 19:34

        We are going to build the wall after trump and his cabal are deported to Mexico….

      • Oct 12, 2019 @ 23:50 at 23:50

        DONALD is a better man than you would ever be you sadistic botom feeder. Yes he have complicated your Middle Eastern expansion plans but so what? He is doing what he was elected to do and that is to put America first not your bottom feeding nation of roaches ? that prey on the innocent and the vulnerable.
        So why don’t you do the word a favor and take your family and go play in traffic ?

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 4:59 at 4:59

          Dear OSJ; may yah bless you and keep you, may he make his face shine upon you and give you shalom. you have made my day. Please carry on.

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 5:03 at 5:03

          OSJ, whose those innocent and vulnurable, Hamas? Hezbollah? Islamic jihahd? Or PFLP?……. , it’s good you’ve backed out, pretend about American first but actually it is deep fear, middle East is for the toughest of the toughest,……. you can’t manage to do what Israel has achieved in the M.E, even with your all mighty army

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 8:41 at 8:41

          So you old Jew are too old to see the truth. You are supporting white Supremists and Nazis. Trump’s father Fred was head of the KKK. TheY both hate blacks and Jews. He just wants our money. Put that where the sun doesn’t shine old Jew. Like my Rabbi used to say There Ain’t no fool like an Old fool.

          • Oct 13, 2019 @ 14:55 at 14:55

            Love the Light of Truth and everything else will attend to its self. Its because of the Darkness of lack of Truth, of Ignorance and Deception that suffering arises

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 17:06 at 17:06

          To OSJ: How bout you take your family and give them a few gallons of Prestone Antifreeze to guzzle.
          Don’t forget to share with your parents. lol

      • Oct 13, 2019 @ 10:41 at 10:41

        Actually the wall is being built and Much of it completed by the end of 2020. Mexico is paying for It not by direct cash but by providing 27,000 troops on the border.
        Go to this link.https://youtu.be/Nd1qitmwFdc

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 18:28 at 18:28

    Turkey fired at the Syrian city of Kobani in the fight against the Kurds, while the American military, based here, was not affected. 399 Kurds killed: Turkey strikes Syria

    399 Kurds killed: Turkey strikes Syria

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 19:46 at 19:46

    Following the sample of Turkey in transforming the Great Cathedral Saint Sophia into a museum, and the complete silence and acceptance of the world’s states,


    • Oct 12, 2019 @ 23:41 at 23:41

      Yes Moloch’s worshippers are likely to continue to commit these crimes against the indigenous people of Palestine.

      Whats your point, you feel that you have the same rights as the Turkish? The difference is that by UN mandate this is land stolen from the Palestinians. You are a parasite people attempt to twist truth to fit your narrative. The vast majority of you termites dont even have semetic blood, you are converts not ethnic Jews.

      • Oct 13, 2019 @ 5:06 at 5:06

        if you are truly an “old school jew” you would know that blood descent from yahwdhah ben yaacov or convert, no difference in yah’s eyes. only faithful adherence to the eternal covenant means anything. I call your charade to account.

        • Oct 13, 2019 @ 5:34 at 5:34

          @Walter The land is promised to the descendants in other words the offspring, the Children of Abraham. So focus on reading the bible, invest in a good quality bible concordance and dont believe anything that you have not verified for yourself.
          Genesis 12:7
          The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 19:57 at 19:57

    Just maybe President Trump is right; let Turkey get it nose punched a couple of times and maybe they will see the need to make a deal with the Kurds. Either that or Turkey will have to call up more troops and equipment in an operation he though would over quickly. Erdogan has underestimated the Kurds fighting ability…

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 20:22 at 20:22

    After finishing your Kurdish contras, they come to shmok you in Palestine for sure ..

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 21:27 at 21:27

    This article is complete fiction, there are no 140000 Kurdish fighter there most of them are 13 year old kids that hold guns like sub Saharan style. They run away when they see Turkish soldier. In fact 5000 pkk terrrorist available for satan army might be able to fight but most of them in Iraq too scared to involve. Turkey has more than 10 million military person call up potential in one week if needed so never short.

    • Oct 13, 2019 @ 1:21 at 1:21


      • Oct 13, 2019 @ 14:39 at 14:39

        Who are you. I am also a half Kurd and know the difference. This fight is about Turkey’s fight with evil not Kurds. Pkk is far left extremist and pure enemy of God in every aspect. Turkish army is just playing its role, if it does not exist the other players will take over its position. If no one exist in the world who put a fight with PKk then the martinans will come. There is no other way around no victory for them it is impossible

    • Oct 16, 2019 @ 4:40 at 4:40

      There no 10 million turkey army only 360k active military personel and 350k in reserve in all military branches. They have one most powerful armies in the world but attacking the kids was a big mistake.

  • Oct 12, 2019 @ 22:27 at 22:27

    This article is pure fiction.

    • Oct 14, 2019 @ 3:31 at 3:31


  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 0:03 at 0:03

    I would have liked Trump to have given the Kurdish enough time to put in place an agreement with Syria so as to have avoided any needless casualties. Turkey legitimate concerns and realignment with Syria would have addressed the Turkish concerns and also provide an opportunity for a far more autonomous area for the Kurds. Now they just going to get wiped out or pushed out of this area.

    So shame on American for not providing the Kurds with that option. But congratulations to America for finally beginning to withdraw from this sh#thole region.

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 0:31 at 0:31

    Erdoğan’s big mistake is being an antisemitic Islamist fool filled with delusions of Ottoman supremacy.

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 1:15 at 1:15

    “It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.”

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 1:26 at 1:26

    we know real old school, run for your lives! A wolf!

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 1:32 at 1:32

    This operation is against deep state, Donnie will secure a settlement with Syria for the Kurd’s after giving Erdogan a bloodied nose, and the European’s step up and take care of the ISIS prisoners

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 1:33 at 1:33

    What about Russian intervention to help the Turks achieve their goal? Then all those (million or so) Syrian refugees, mostly Sunni, can return and help replenish those depleted ISIS “stocks.” What are a 1,000 or so American troops going to do against all those potential enemies-Turks, Russians, ISIS, Iraqui militias, etc. etc. Israel needs to establish its own military presence along a narrow vertical strip of the Euphrates away from major towns, so it can conduct military operations in every direction. Just have to watch they don’t get surrounded for their efforts. Remember Dien Bien Phu.

    • Oct 13, 2019 @ 5:16 at 5:16

      with strategic israel-rojava collaboration, we could have peace from wadi el arish to nahar parath. interesting.

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 5:13 at 5:13

    OSJ, who are those innocent and vulnurable, Hamas? Hezbollah? Islamic jihahd? Or PFLP?……. , it’s good you’ve backed out, pretend about American first but actually you’re fearful, middle East is a very tough neiberhood for the toughest,……. you can’t manage to do what Israel has achieved in the M.E, even with your all large army…… just remember the thousands of Marines killed in Iraq by the Shia’s then you’ll understand the type of characters Israel deals with every day

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 8:19 at 8:19

    A Nations Worth Is No Greater That Nation’s Leaders Ambitions! Arabia & Gulf States Have The Financial Means To Foster The Funding For A Kurdistan Partner In The Mideast To Take On Turkey, Iraq, Syria & Iraq & Become 10th Largest Oil Provider To The World Economy Ending Iran’s Chaos, Turkey Last Dominance & Syria-Iraq In A Place Of Protections!

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 9:34 at 9:34

    FLIGHTRADAR24.COM: there is an air bridge lift of cargo planes IL 76-T between Tehran and Damascus actually, already 8 planes in 24 hours….

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 11:52 at 11:52

    The turks are weak like IDF

    you can forget the ottomans empire , the iranian are better

    • Oct 14, 2019 @ 0:55 at 0:55

      …The thoroughly defective creature “abbas” has ejaculated, again…

    • Oct 14, 2019 @ 1:14 at 1:14

      Abbas… Iranians & Turkish Empires Once Mixed Now They Just Leftovers For Global Chess Games!

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 13:00 at 13:00

    It’s more complicated.

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 18:54 at 18:54

    Watch the 10,000 ISIS fighters released and end up in the US…

    Payback is a bi tch…

  • Oct 13, 2019 @ 22:40 at 22:40

    They want those 10,000 ISIS fighters to be released, so that we can bomb them again. It’s called economic stimulus. Long LMT, Long BA

    • Oct 14, 2019 @ 1:10 at 1:10

      Pioro… When Authorities Of Power Capture Criminals, Murders & Terrorists No Longer What The Costs To Keep Them In Camps Or Jails, One Way to Solve Upkeep Is To Let Them Go With No Surrender Nor Capture?

  • Oct 14, 2019 @ 0:27 at 0:27

    The Kurds are now aligned with the Syrian government alliance and will soon be under their protection. This is great news for Turkey, the Kurdish people, and Syria. It just shows how Donald achieved all his goals without having to put America in harms way. The fight against ISIS will continue but without us having to waste America lives or Treasure. ?

  • Oct 14, 2019 @ 1:05 at 1:05

    The Middle East Conflicts, Religions & Wars History Does Not Repeat Itself Among Leaders, Holy Men, & Empires But Does Rhymes Over Time! New Leaders, Old Enemies, & Religious Blood Feuds!

  • Oct 14, 2019 @ 5:07 at 5:07

    Just as Iran & Arabia Have Been Playing Raising Oil Prices By Threatening Each Other Since 1970s. Turkey as a Mideast-Europe Gatekeeper between Radical Islam Global Partners, Or Erdogan would Open Flood Gates to EU Terror Extremists Blackmail Leverage over his NATO Partners. Erdogan was going to enter Syria regardless of what the EU, NATO or the USA would say. Since Turkey has the support of Political Islam & EU is to weak to kick Turkey out of NATO! Until POTUS Trump has Called all the Bet Bluffs on Mideast Game Players?

  • Oct 15, 2019 @ 2:29 at 2:29

    Sometimes when People think others are there to Defend Just Them, they need a Punch in the Nose to Wake Up! The Sunnis, Shiia, Christian & Marxist Kurds need to Wake Up & Unite just like Zionists Movements Helped Formed Independent Israel To Protect Jewish Cultures In Mideast Among Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed & Secular Jewish Beliefs, Philosophies, & Culture Inclusion That Argue Among Each Other But Stand Together When Self-Existence Is Required! Kurds Must Unite To Protect Kurds Everywhere Too!

  • Oct 19, 2019 @ 10:26 at 10:26

    Erdogan discharged 130.000 soldiers from military for paid-military law in 1 day. After Gulen’s 15 July attact more than half of the generals and junior officers had been also sacked out. This meant 2 things for Turkish people. 1- Military service (which thought to be holy in the past) is now a professional service to pay or get paid system. 2- There still may be more Gulenist generals in the army which causes less trust to the army. Even though we can say Turkish army is relatively weaker, the main weakness which has been coming up is “no ally reality”. Even most trusted Arabs opposed the operation. Basically Venezuela and Azerbaijan supported, no one else. This is the real weakness of Turkish military-politics.

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