Earlier this week, local media reported that Turkey would intensify its training of the FSA to counter the Kurdish forces backed by the United States.
“According to the received data, Turkey is training FSA forces in order to carry out an operation in Afrin. Turkey decided to conduct the operation after the United States made the decision to supply weapons to the People’s Protection Units [YPG]. Turkey cannot conduct ground operation in Kobani and Qamishli, as there are US troops, but there are none in Afrin, that is why Turkey plans to carry out the operation here… We are waiting for the reaction of the Syrian and Russian governments in response to the Turkish plans,” Hiddo said.
Hiddo added that Turkey also sought to gain control over Azaz, Marea and Idlib, as well as over the areas to the west of the Jarabulus-Aleppo line.
On May 9, the US Defense Department announced that US President Donald Trump had approved, despite objections from Turkey, a plan to arm the YPG, which Ankara views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in order to better fight Daesh in Syria.
The Turkish forces and the FSA carried out a number of joint operations against terrorists in Syria. On August 24, 2016, Turkey and FSA fighters launched Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, during which the cities of Jarabulus and al-Bab were liberated from Daesh. The operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who have accused Ankara of violating Syria’s territorial integrity.