The Turkish military has drawn up a five-phase military strategy for an imminent offensive on northern Syria's Manbij to clear the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from the region.
The strategy focuses initially on maintaining security in the areas near the Turkish border and cut YPG's planned terror corridor alongside the Syrian-Turkish border. After that, the Turkish military would ensure the security of Manbij and advance deeper inside for the fight against Daesh.
The first front of the offensive will be in Şanlıurfa's Akçakale, from where Turkish troops may enter Manbij from a point between Syria's northern Ayn al-Arab and Tal Abyad provinces. A number of tank divisions from different parts of Turkey have been mobilized to Akçakale recently. Turkish howitzers will pound the area so that Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters can advance. Turkish military will open another front trough Ayn Issa, which is located in eastern Manbij, to eventually reach Qalat Jabar in Syria's Raqqa, the original location of Suleyman Shah Tomb, the only Turkish sovereign territory in a foreign country. With this strategy, the Turkish military will establish a crescent surrounding Manbij.
During the second phase of the offensive, another front will be opened from Jarablus and supported by military troops located in Turkey's southern province of Gaziantep. While these forces will be advancing towards the city center, kilometers-long tunnels, trenches, observation posts and terrorist HQs will be cleared. These teams will consist of experienced soldiers, who previously took part in Turkish operations in Turkey's southeast and Syria's Afrin. Once Manbij is cleared of terrorists, the military will secure the area around Qalat Jabar.
The legendary tomb has had three locations. It was originally located near castle Qalat Jabar in Syria's Raqqa until 1973, when it was moved up the Euphrates banks to Aleppo governorate, 27 kilometers from the Turkish border, to avoid being flooded. In early 2015, Turkey moved the tomb 22 km west of Ayn al-Arab to protect it from the threat posed by Daesh terrorists.