update2: The Kurdish-led and (formerly) US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have begun firing back on invading Turkish forces, which are being supported by F-16 jets, already bombarding densely packed civilian areas inside Syria near the border. Now busy defending themselves against Turkish air and ground forces, the SDF has announced “the suspension of all operations against ISIS.”
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reports multiple rockets were launched from Kurdish positions in Syria’s Qamishli, landing in the center of the Turkish border town of Nusaybin. Turkey will use the Kurdish response as justification for a more aggressive aerial response, with reports suggesting there could already be up to 200 Turkish warplanes in the air currently.
Turkish state media has claimed its invading forces have killed 6 SDF fighters, which it labeled “terrorists”, and further cited sporadic shelling on its border towns from SDF positions.
Civilians are now fleeing en mass as Turkish airstrikes over Syria continue:
#Serê_Kaniyê/#Ras_al_Ain: Aftermath of an airstrike surrounding Serê Kaniyê, people are starting to flee in the direction of Hasake and Qamişlo.#Twitterkurds #Rojava #SDF #Turkey #TSK #Syria pic.twitter.com/XJ2OV72BXI
— Rojava Network (@RojavaNetwork) October 9, 2019
It must be remembered that with US special forces withdrawn away from border areas ahead of the Turkish offensive, the SDF is without air power, and likely has not been given anti-aircraft weapons, though ironically al-Qaeda linked ‘rebels’ have been seen with American-issued MANPADS throughout the war.
Meanwhile, as the SDF has urged Washington to impose a No Fly Zone, Congressional members led by Sen. Lindsey Graham have vowed to make Erdogan “pay a heavy price” for the devastating military incursion, already said to be targeting civilians.
I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 9, 2019
“I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working,” the Republican senator said immediately after the Turkish invasion commenced. The Trump ally said he’ll lead an effort in Congress “to make Erdogan pay a heavy price.”
As to the economic toll on Erdogan’s big gamble, S&P Global announced Wednesday the military operation “raises risks for Turkey’s currency and balance of payments,” per Bloomberg. “Nevertheless, we do not expect this to have any immediate impact on our sovereign ratings on Turkey,” the S&P Global statement continued. “Potential consequences of military operations in northeastern Syria could include, like in the past, retaliatory attacks in the region, including on Turkey’s tourism infrastructure.”