Did the US inform the YPG of Turkey's air operation?
“We know what we will do when the time comes. We may, all of a sudden, go there overnight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week about the Sinjar and Karaçok operations conducted by the Turkish Air Forces.
When this statement is evaluated together with the style of execution of the air operations, it does not only concern the People’s Protection Units/ Democratic Union Party (YPG/PYD) but also directly the U.S.
A top level officer from the center of operations of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said that at the time when U.S. and Russian military attaches were informed that an air operation would be conducted at these certain coordinates, a special U.S. unit was about 10 kilometers south of these coordinates and only after a short while from that talk, jets were in the air.
I was very curious as to whether after that conversation the U.S. commanders, as soon as they heard it, informed the PYD and the YPG to “take measure; Turks will bomb.” In the 45 minutes in between the moment the Americans learned about the operation and the moment when jet pilots pushed the red buttons to send the missiles, what happened in Sinjar and Karaçok?
I learned about an interesting detail as I was investigating this.
You know that on April 7, 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired from two U.S. war ships in the Mediterranean to hit the Shayrat Air Base. The U.S. commanders had contacted Russian commanders to inform them a short while before this bombardment. This could have given the opportunity for the Russians to warn the Syrian army and they then might have taken caution. But the presence of Russian soldiers on the base and them being the target of the Tomahawks could have led to more serious problems. The timing was done to make taking measures possible but not to give the opportunity to be protected 100 percent. The regime army survived the bombardment with the least damage, but was not able to rescue five to six planes and their important buildings.
The Turkish Air Force adopted a similar method concerning the informing of the operation to the U.S. and Russia. Any U.S. loss within these coordinates was prevented but even while the U.S. was checking whether or not there was a U.S. military presence there, the YPG/PYD was informed about the operation. Despite this, because the operation started in a short while, the YPG/PYD could not prevent casualties.
The target of the U.S. on April 7 was not to destroy the Shayrat Air Base all together or to inflict the biggest possible damage to the Syrian army. The real target was to give the message, “Obama era is over; we are right here,” both to Russia and the Bashar al-Assad regime in a convincing and deterrent way.
Turkey’s primary message was also similar. The extent of the damage inflicted was not as important as showing Turkey’s seriousness and determination in fighting the PKK to both the U.S. and the YPG/PYD. Erdoğan’s words on “coming overnight suddenly” is only the open declaration of this target.
Another message given with the air operation was that the Turkish intelligence and TSK are closely monitoring every move of the PKK and YPG in northern Iraq and Syria. Thus, the U.S. activities in the region are also at Ankara’s field of vision.
The operation and the statements came prior to Erdoğan’s critical visit to the U.S. Turkey is showing this determination to convince U.S. President Donald Trump on the matter with the YPG/PYD.
There is only one scenario to convince Trump on the Raqqa operation: TSK’s role will not be limited to logistical support in Raqqa but will directly go to the front.
Will Turkey run the risk of that?