TEHRAN (FNA)- A well-informed local source in Northern Aleppo reported that thousands of militants affiliated to the Turkish Army are to kick off an imminent large-scale operation codenamed Seif al-Forat (the Euphrates Sword) in Afrin region.
The source reported that the Syrian Army Forces (FSA), backed up by the Turkish soldiers, are ready now to carry out a large-scale operation in Afrin region with over 20,000 fighters.
The Turkish-language Sabah daily reported, meantime, that the Ankara-backed militants are expected to start their operation from West of the town of Azaz and from the town of Ein Daqneh and Ming military airport in Northern Aleppo to move towards the towns of Tal Rifat and Afrin in Aleppo province and the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa.
Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the Turkish Army’s artillery and missile units shelled the positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Northern Syria.
Field reports said that the Turkish army retaliated the YPG forces’ attack on the defense lines of the Ankara-backed militants South of the town of Azaz in Northern Aleppo.
In the meantime, the Turkish army announced in a statement that the YPG fighters stormed the positions of the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Mar’anaz region South of Azaz.
Khabar Turk news website, meantime, reported that the sound of artillery and missile shelling was heard in the border town of Kilis in Southern Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that Ankara was ready to launch a new military campaign similar to the Operation Euphrates Shield in Northern Syria.
“Presently, negative processes are underway in Syria. In case they lead to a threat to our borders, we will respond the same way as during the Euphrates Shield operation,” Erdogan told the Russian Izvestia newspaper, as the tension between Ankara and Washington has risen over the supplying arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria by the United States.
He added that Turkey would not allow establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria and was ready to carry out another large-scale military campaign if needed.
Turkey declared in August 2016 that its Army launched ‘Euphrates Shield’ military operation in Syria, as Ankara claims that it began to cleanse the ISIL terrorists from its border with the Arab country.
But, despite Ankara’s allegation, Turkish military forces supported militant groups in Northern Syria, and fought against Kurdish forces in the region.
Turkish officials have frequently stressed that operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ will continue to create a safe zone in Northern Syria.
Turkish President had said early April that the next phase of Operation Euphrates Shield may include a stint in Iraq’s Sinjar Region.
The Turkish leader emphasized that his armed forces will concentrate on both the ISIL and Kurdish-led “Kurdistan Workers Party”, these two groups are both fighting one another in the Sinjar Region of Iraq.
In the same month, after Ankara announced that it had completed the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria, Erdogan said Turkey is planning new offensives inside Syria against groups deemed terrorist organizations by Ankara, even after the completion of its six-month-long operation in the country’s North, but did not specify where the new operations could take place.
But Erdogan indicated that this by no means meant an end to cross-border operations by Ankara against ISIL and Kurdish groups classified by Turkey as terror groups, like the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The first stage, the Euphrates Shield operation… is over. But more will follow,” Erdogan said in a speech in the Trabzon region near the Black Sea ahead of the referendum on expanding his powers.
“There is no stopping, the road continues. We are making preparations for new operations in other regions for getting to the terrorists on their hills. We will give new names to the new operations,” he added.
“The next months with God’s permission will be spring for the Turkish nation and a black winter for the terrorists,” Erdogan stressed.
Damascus had condemned Ankara’s military operation and entry of Turkish special forces and tanks into Syria, while Moscow expressed deep concern about what is happening in the Syrian-Turkish border area.