Turkish army and intel chiefs fly to Moscow ahead of Afrin operation

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Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar (R) and MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan on Thursday paid a visit to Russia as the Turkish military deploys on the border for a military operation against the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Akar flew to Moscow at the invitation of Russia’s chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov. Regional issues, recent developments in Syria and the Astana-Geneva processes, related to the Syrian settlement, will be discussed during meetings that will also be attended by MİT’s Fidan.

The visit took place while the Turkish military is deploying forces on the border for an operation against Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and amid tension between Ankara and Washington over a border security force planned by the US in northern Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said Turkey would destroy a border security force planned by the US.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday said the operation in Afrin would be carried out in coordination with Russia and that talks were continuing over the use of airspace.

Turkish security forces on Saturday hit several PYD targets in Afrin following remarks made by Erdoğan, who said Turkey would carry out a military operation in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions “if the terrorists do not pull out in one week.”

Turkey views the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish military on Oct. 9 launched surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the northwestern Syrian province of İdlib as part of the multinational “Tension Reduction Control Force.”

President Erdoğan on Oct. 24 said Turkey had to a great extent completed its operation in Idlib, indicating that Afrin would be the next target.

Turkey with Free Syrian Army forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants between August 2016 and March 2017.

More than 70 soldiers were lost during Operation Euphrates Shield, which was evaluated as a strategic move to prevent unification of areas controlled by the Kurdish PYD.

Erdoğan on Oct. 8 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean while assessing Turkish military operations in Idlib.

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