Reports are coming through that a convoy of five tanks and multiple military vehicles have been dispatched to Turkey’s southern border with Rojava, northern Syria. This move by Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is presumably in response to the Kurds neglecting to heed his earlier threats of military response if they did not withdraw from the disputed territories of Manbij and Afrin. Both cities were originally Turkish-controlled until their fall to the Islamic State and eventual liberation by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
While a large amount of Turkish military forces were already manning positions along the border, a state-run media outlet reported that the convoy was sent in as reinforcements to the existing forces. Despite the lack of confirmation from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on the Turkish deployment, Turkish forces had already begun bombarding outlying villages near Afrin with indirect fire and air strikes. The Turkish-supported terrorist organization formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also began assaulting the region with bombardments. President has hinted in the past that the nation of Turkey was preparing for a major offensive against the Syrian Kurdish forces, even daring to directly threaten coalition forces should they get in the way.
In a statement at the President’s provincial congress, he said, “God willing, in the coming days we will resume the operation of cleaning [our] southern borders from terror in Afrin, which we began with the Euphrates Shield Operation.” During the ISIS conflict, Turkey took part in Operation Euphrates Shield, where it launched a major offensive to capture areas near Aleppo, Jarabulus and territories outside Manbij. The other half of this operation was an attempt to prevent further “Kurdish terror” and halt any more Kurdish advances from being made by the SDF according to Erdogan.
Later on the same day, the President gave another rousing speech where he made the bold claim that,“If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will destroy it,” and, “We will destroy those looters that have come together, believing [they] have formed an army, within a week.”