‘Massive crisis’ looms as Turkey launches military offensive in Syria
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Turkey has today launched an offensive in north-east Syria, in a bid to push back Kurdish forces away from the Turkish border.
The offensive comes just days after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops and cleared the way for Turkish forces to move in and attack the Syrian Kurds.
Islamic politics expert, Professor Greg Barton, said there is “the real potential for a massive crisis”, but some hope that major conflict can be avoided remains.
“Many current US military commanders, and certainly recently retired ones … have spoken out very strongly against the president’s decision, and there’s always a hope with a president that you can get things reversed,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
“The Turks may find it harder to invade Syria than there expecting.”
Currently, Turkish forces plan to move 30 kilometres in from the border, creating a buffer zone, mainly to allow the return of Syrian refugees to the country, but the plan is fraught with potential pitfalls.
“One of the big concerns is that many Islamic State terrorist fighters will be broken out of prison or allowed to be freed or liberated by the Turks,” Mr Barton said.
“There’s 70,000 plus people in detention, not necessarily fighters, mostly women and children, including 11 Australian women and 44 Australian children.
“It’s not clear what will happen to them, but unfortunately that may be the beginnings of the next generation of fighters.”
The potential resurgence of ISIS has many foreign countries, including Australia, worried.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne warned that a Turkish military incursion into Syria would have major consequences.
“I think the resurgence of Islamic State is already happening. It’s certainly happening in northern Iraq,” Mr Barton said.
“There’s long been concerns about sleeper cells and a quiet insurgency in Syria, it’s likely to become much more active.
“It’s a big concern for Australia.”
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