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    A Turkish army tank and an armoured vehicle are stationed near the Turkish-Syrian border in Karkamis in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 23, 2016.

    Turkey Chose 'Opportune Time' to Launch Ground Operation in Syria

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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)
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    Turkey launched its operation in northern Syria to cleanse the area around the town of Jarablus of Daesh and Kurdish fighters at an "opportune time," political analyst and journalist Grigory Melamedov told Sputnik.

    The offensive, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, comes at a time when Turkey and Russia enjoy what the expert described as a "honeymoon period."

    Relations between the two countries had gone into a deep freeze after the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian bomber in northern Syria on November 24, 2015. They were restored earlier this year after the Turkish leader apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Su-24 incident.

    Smoke rises from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 24, 2016
    © REUTERS / Stringer
    Smoke rises from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 24, 2016

    In addition, Ankara and Tehran apparently share an understanding that "both sides will try to prevent the Kurds from establishing a state," the expert noted.

    Turkish public opinion is likely on Erdogan's side. "The Turks have been outraged by recent terrorist acts. So they can be easily convinced that an anti-Daesh operation is really needed right now," Melamedov added.

    Furthermore, "Turkey's relations with the United States have been improving; after all the US needs the Incirlik airbase," the analyst noted.

    Bilateral relations soured following an unsuccessful attempt to depose Erdogan on July 15. Ankara has been discontent that Washington has been unwilling to extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in a self-imposed exile in the US since 1999. For its part, the West has criticized Turkish leadership for the massive purges that saw approximately 80,000 people fired, detained or placed under the investigation following the botched putsch.

    Melamedov also said that "Turkey seems to be genuinely determined to tackle Daesh. This card has already been played. Clearly Daesh will be destroyed, if not in six months, then in twelve."

    Turkish MP Metin Külünk of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) told Sputnik that Daesh activities and the US-led counterterrorism operation help the Kurds in Syria and across the region to gain more power. This is something that Ankara will try to stop.

    "In the long run Daesh's activities in the region strengthen the Democratic Union Party (PYD). At first Daesh carries out an assault, prompting the US to conduct an operation against the jihadists. Washington then gives the territory freed from the militants to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the PYD. We will not accept and cave in to this scheme," he said.

    The Kurds have been instrumental in the US-led efforts to tackle the radical group that still controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, but Turkey views them as a threat to its security and stability. Ankara has carried out a military operation against the PKK in southwestern regions of the country. Its anti-Kurdish efforts have occasionally spread to Iraq and Syria.

    On Wednesday, the Turkish military launched a massive operation across the border with Syria to free the town of Jarablus from Daesh. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the offensive is also targeted against the Kurds.

    Topic:
    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)

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    Tags:
    Syrian crisis, Syrian Kurds, military operation, Syrian conflict, Operation Euphrates Shield, coup attempt in Turkey, Daesh, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria
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