Turkish military sources have said that Ankara is keeping tabs on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) latest operation to retake the DAESH-held northern Syrian town of Manbij. The SDF is primarily made up of the PKK's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.
Sources confirmed through intelligence that the group is laying the groundwork for an operation to take the town from DAESH, moving toward the Azaz-Jarablous line, which Ankara has described as its red line for its national security. The sources acknowledged that there is no information regarding any air support that might be given by the U.S.-led anti-DAESH coalition.
"This information is valid for now," a military official said, speaking in the condition of anonymity.
The U.K.-based the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed on Monday that the SDF will start an extensive operation from Tishrin Dam, nearby Manbij, with air cover from the U.S.-led coalition soon.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, local sources also said that U.S. warplanes had targeted several areas in the town 25 times since the beginning of the three-day air offensives.
Concerning what Ankara's attitude will be in the event of the operation taking place, sources indicated that it will not stand idle: "The necessary respond would be given without entering Syrian territory."
Ankara considers the PYD and its YPG militia to be branches of the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, and is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU.
Previously, Turkey pounded YPG targets near Azaz, Syria in northern Syria on Feb. 19 with T-155 Fırtına howitzers in retaliation to cross-border fire into the southern border town Kilis.
The military also shelled YPG targets near on Feb. 13 within the rules of engagement and in response to two separate attacks carried out by the YPG and Syrian government forces on a Turkish military base and a police station.
Turkey's military expresses 'commitment to democracy'The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) yesterday pledged its commitment to democracy and dismissed reports of the formation of any extra-hierarchical mechanisms within the military.
In a statement, the TSK said it has always expressed its commitment to democracy, and its legal and administrative mechanisms are "continuous and active" within the TSK.
The statement came in response to "news and comments in some media organization," and it said it had filed a criminal complaint against them.
"It is out of the question to make concessions to any illegal formation and/or movement outside of the command hierarchy," the statement said.
The TSK said it has been fighting terrorists at home and abroad in line with its tasks laid out in the Constitution and laws for the unity and security of the country and its nationals.
It said the "baseless" reports and comments in some media "annoyed and impacted the morale and motivation of soldiers," and continued: "Discipline, absolute obedience and the supremacy of command are basic in the Turkish Armed Forces".
The TSK called the news reports and comments contrary to press ethics and said they lacked any legal, humanitarian, conscientious or rational basis.