Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border, Oct. 9, 2019.
ISTANBUL - Turkey is facing calls for restraint by its Western allies as well as Russia and Iran after Ankara's forces launched a military offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia Wednesday.
"[Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan cannot step back. He was under so much public pressure," said Huseyin Bagci, an international relations professor with Ankara's Middle East Technical University. "He could not postpone this [operation]. He has put his credibility on the line with this operation."
Operation Peace Spring was launched just three days after U.S. President Donald Trump, in a telephone conversation with Erdogan, decided to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria, paving the way for the Turkish offensive.
For months, Turkish forces have been massed on the Syrian border facing off against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the SDF. Ankara designates the main force within the SDF, known as the YPG, as terrorists. The YPG is a critical ally in the Washington-led war against the Islamic State terror group.
The SDF has reportedly announced an end to anti-Islamic State operations. The announcement will likely embolden critics of the Turkish operation in Washington who warned that the war against Islamic State is under threat. Tens of thousands of jihadists and their families are held in detention camps by the SDF.
"Turkey gave assurances to Trump to get ISIS people and control them," said Bagci. "Turkey has experience of fighting ISIS [Islamic State] and dealing with their detainment; we have many ISIS members in Turkey's prisons."
Observers warn many of the Islamic State detention camps are outside Turkey's planned 32-kilometer buffer zone into Syrian territory.
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