Russia Joins Turkey to Clobber Syrian Kurds in Efrin
In a double game typical of the players in the Syrian conflict, 150 Russian troops in armored personnel carriers drove on Monday, July 3, into a base on the outskirts of the northern Kurdish city of Efrin. They came to support the coming Turkish offensive against Kurdish YPG militia that rules the town.
But this did not deter Russian officers from meanwhile paying tribute to the Kurdish fighters who were killed in battle against Turkish-backed rebels in northern Aleppo, by visiting the Graveyard of Martyrs which commemorated the event.
Both Turkish and Russian officials said quite openly this week that a joint operation against Kurdish military units in Efrin could take place any time soon. The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced:
“In the first stage, we plan to take control of Tal Rifat as well as the local airbase and then begin the siege of Efrin, which is ruled by Kurdish YPG forces. Our goal is not to enter Efrin, but to clear all the terrain up to the Turkish border of YPG forces.”
The plan is for around 20,000 FSA and Turkish troops to go into battle in the Efrin region. The exact date,
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report, was to have been set at a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, later this week.
Ankara flew off the handle when Washington began sending heavy weapons and ammunition to the YPG, which the Turks view as the armed wing of the separatist PKK (Kurdish Workers Party).
Turkish intelligence claimed that the Syrian Kurds had moved nine containers of heavy weapons and ammunition up to the Syrian-Turkish border and placed them in position for attacking Turkish forces.
The YPG, for its part, recently threatened to strike back at Turkey if Ankara attacked its Efrin and Tal Rifat enclaves in northern Syria. The US-backed Raqqa Civilian Council, an YPG affiliate, vowed moreover to defend Efrin, after posting an ultimatum to the United States, that it would stall the ongoing offensive to free Raqqa from ISIS, if Turkey attacked Efrin.
On Monday, July 3, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin called a press conference to threaten that Ankara would retaliate for any “terrorist threat” coming from Efrin or anywhere else.