Newspaper details Turkey's planned "pincer attack" on Afrin
The Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak has published a detailed forecast of the planned military assault of the Syrian-Kurdish enclave of Afrin, northwest of Aleppo.
Ankara has been making preparations to strike Afrin since news hit headlines last Sunday of plans to establish a U.S.-backed border force including fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, considered terrorists by Turkey.
The operation will be take the form of a “flanking maneuver” conducted by two brigades of “specially trained” Turkish soldiers, according to the report.
The Afrin region is flanked to the north and west by Turkish territory, while the Turkish military is occupying regions along the Syrian-Turkish border to the east. Turkish-backed Syrian opposition militias have already begun engaging Kurdish forces in the nearby town of Azaz, according to reports on Friday.
The Turkish assault, which is to be commanded by 2nd Army commander Lt. General Metin Temel, will be conducted mainly by Turkish special forces and infantry due to the rocky terrain around Afrin, Yeni Şafak reported. Around 5,000 troops from the Free Syrian Army will serve as a vanguard in the operation, which will reportedly target the airports at Tel Rifaat and Minnigh as two of its main objectives.
The offensive will be supported by the Turkish air force, while armed drones are conducting intensive surveillance of the region.
The frequent announcements by Turkish politicians and military leaders about the planned operation have been made “in order to lead the citizens in Afrin to abandon the city so that they do not get harmed during the operations”, said the report.