Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria, which follows a sudden decision by the United States to withdraw troops, arrives at a critical time in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and risks the resurgence of the group, the Guardian said.
The Turkish incursion into northern Syria, which aims to remove the Syrian Kurdish forces from territories along the Turkish border, is in its fifth day.
Turkey sees the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its main fighting force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for over three decades.
The YPG made up the bulk of the SDF that all-but defeated ISIS in the country.
While Turkey’s incursion is aimed at clearing the region of Kurdish militia, the Guardian said, the operation disrupts the process of stabilisation and recovery following the recent collapse of ISIS and distracts militia in charge of securing the former ISIS areas that make up one-third of the country.
Future historians might remember Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, “as the second time that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan provided Islamic State with a lifeline, intentionally or not,’’ it said, following Turkey opening its borders to foreign jihadists entering Syria, a move that enabled ISIS to build a sizeable caliphate in 2014.
Turkey’s military operation “will take the pressure off extremist forces and disturb a delicate equilibrium and the relative quiet that have existed in the country for about two years,’’ the Guardian said.
The move follows efforts by the United States to improve local forces’ capabilities in detecting and removing sleeper cells linked to ISIS, it added.
The change of hands in the north that come with the Turkish incursion will most likely leave gaps for ISIS to exploit, as the extremist watches diligently for chances to regroup and attack, the Guardian said.
Without a prevention by U.S and western powers, the article said, the Turkish incursion will likely “unleash the spectre of both the reheating of Syrian civil war and a resurgence in the threat of jihadist extremists, long thought to have been put under control.’’