Turkish officials told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that it is ready to advance into northeastern Syria after the United States started to pull back troops from the region.
The strike, according to a Turkish official, was to cut off a transit route between Syria and Iraq that is often used by Kurdish forces “before the operation in Syria.”
“In this way, the group’s transit to Syria and support lines, including ammunition, are shut off,” the official told the news outlet.
The Kurdish fighters, who are known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), aided the United States in defeating ISIS in Syria. But the Turkish government views them as a terrorist insurgency linked to the Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
On Monday, President Donald Trump said the troop pullback was to stop U.S. involvement in the “endless wars” in the Middle East.
Hours later, he warned Ankara that sanctions would be applied should anything untoward happen.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Administration officials also said that the pullback wasn’t a green light for Turkey to invade Syria.
“The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey—as did the President—that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
“In conversations between the Department and the Turkish military we have consistently stressed that coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area. Secretary Esper and Chairman Milley reiterated to their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey. As the President has stated, Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the United States,” the department added.
It’s not clear if Turkey’s bombing run along the Iraq-Syria border resulted in any casualties.