The Turkish military has sent new reinforcements to the country’s areas on the border with Syria’s militant-held province of Idlib as Ankara is preparing for a military operation against US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from the war-torn country.

Turkey’s private Demiroren news agency reported that battle tanks and armored vehicles were loaded onto trucks on Saturday, and dispatched to the southern Turkish province of Hatay.

The development came on the same day that Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and top-brass military officials, namely Chief of General Staff General Yasar Guler and Land Forces Commander General Umit Dundar, in addition to Head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan, held a meeting in Hatay and exchanged viewpoints on the latest developments in Syria’s Idlib.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (C) and top-brass military officials meet in Hatay, southern Turkey, on January 12, 2019 to discuss latest developments in Syria. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
“All efforts are being made to maintain ceasefire, stability under Sochi agreement. Our close cooperation with Russia continues in this manner,” Akar said.

On September 17, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Russia’s coastal city of Sochi, and agreed to divide Idlib into a demilitarized zone between militant-held and government-controlled areas.

Also on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, and the pair discussed latest developments in Syria.

On Thursday, Cavusoglu said his country would launch an offensive against YPG forces, in case the US delayed the planned withdrawal of its troops from Syria.

“If the (pullout) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Cavusoglu told Turkish-language NTV television news network in an exclusive interview.

The top Turkish diplomat then underlined that the Ankara government would go ahead with its incursion plan.

Cavusoglu said Ankara would fight the YPG whether or not US soldiers pulled out of Syria.

Trump said last month that he was bringing home the American troops deployed in Syria – some 2,000 – alleging they had succeeded in their mission to defeat the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

His abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington, prompting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to step down in protest.

Some commanders in the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has the YPG as its backbone, have described Washington’s move as “a stab in the back.”

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The Turkish military, with support from allied militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has launched two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch,” against the YPG and Daesh.