Turkey invades Northern Syria


Burak Kara Gettyimages

Turkish soldier and tank moving towards Syria.

The Kurdish state of Rojava is on the verge of destruction. On October 6 following the withdrawal of US soldiers from the area, the Turkish armed forces invaded Northeastern Syria.

The Syrian Civil war began during the Arab Spring in 2011 as a civil uprising against Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad. The protestors demanded more rights and democratic reforms.

The violent suppression of the protesters by the Assad government led to insurgent groups and militias  rising to help overthrow Assad. One of these groups was the YPG(People’s Protection Unit). 

The YPG conquered vast amounts of lands in Northern Syria. In January 2014, three areas under their control declared themselves autonomous and adopted an interim constitution. 

The YPG had heavy ties to the PKK(Kurdistan Workers Party) which drew the ire of the Turkish government. 

The PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and E.U., is a major opposition party in Turkey which uses violent means to achieve Kurdish sovereignty. In 2014; just when Rovjava was gaining power, a ceasefire between the Turkish government and the PKK fell apart. 

Turkey also supports the Free Syrian Army, which is a rival of the YPG in the Syrian Civil War.

Rojava had U.S. support because they opposed the Islamic State and the Iranian-backed Assad regime. The U.S. sent Special Forces to help the YPG in actions against the Islamic State.

President Trump wanting to avoid what he perceived as an endless war like Afghanistan, and viewing the Islamic State’s territorial losses as a victory withdrew US troops from Rovaja.

Following the withdrawal, the Turkish Army invaded Rovaja in a move widely criticized by the International Community.

The Turkish forces have been accused of deliberately targeting civilians and attempting a population transfer of the predominantly Kurdish population of Rojava. 

Following Vice President’s Pence announcement that all U.S. soldiers would be withdrawn from Northern Syria, the YPG allied with Russia and the Assad government. The alliance ended on October 22 with Russia announcing it would help create a 10 km deep buffer zone between Syria and Turkey. 

While fighting will continue in Syria, the outcome of the invasion remains to be seen as does its impact on the conflict with Jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria.