Turkey has invaded Syria, marking a new chapter in the bloody Syrian Civil War, which has plagued the country since 2011.
This extended conflict first began as an effort to stop Arab Spring protestors. There were signals that the war was finally beginning to calm down, with ISIS having lost most of its territory and the Syrian government reclaiming control of key territories.
This hope has been dashed.
The Turkish offense came after U.S. forces, consisting of around 100 or so special forces, were removed from Northern Syria. More forces were removed from the area as of December of last year, prompting James Mattis to resign from the position of Secretary of Defense. These forces provided a Joint Tactical Air Control (JTAC) for American and Western coalition bombers to help Kurdish forces advance forward.
Now that the final American forces have been removed from the area, Turkish forces have opened up a wide campaign against the Kurds, launching a full-scale invasion across the border into Syria, mostly in Kurdish controlled areas. While the reasoning why has been to create a ‘safe zone,’ it would not be so far to say that this is being done to commit genocide.
Turkish forces have been engaged in conflict with the PKK, a communistic organization that is on many countries' terrorist organization lists, within Turkey Itself. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), both of which are Kurdish organizations operating in Syria.
Turkey considers all the organizations to be affiliated with each other despite sharing only ethnic background, as the ideology between the two sides is very different.
While only a week of fighting has occurred so far, there have been many major shifts in alliances. The Kurdish forces who have been left to deal with Turkey alone have allied themselves with Syrian government forces and ostensibly with Russian forces as well.
Syrian forces themselves have begun to respond to the Turkish invasion, though it is unclear at this time if they have engaged each other yet. The Turkish safe zone being created in Syria is a flagrant attack on the Nation's Sovereignty and would be considered an act of war.
One thing to note is that because the Kurdish forces have allied themselves with the Syrian government, President al-Assad has become closer to entirely bringing the nation back together.
Before the Turkish invasion, the Kurdish forces held the northern parts of Syria and were acting relatively autonomously. Both Kurdish and Syrian forces did not entangle themselves with each other during the Syrian Civil War because they had been focusing on ISIS.
It must be made explicitly clear that under no circumstance would 100 American soldiers be able to hold back the Turkish advance on their own. The removal of U.S. soldiers eliminated the risk of drawing war with the United States of America with accidentally attacking their troops.
This is seen as such a massive betrayal to Kurdish forces; not because American forces would be able to hold off the Turkish advances, but removing them ran the risk of them getting attacked when the risk factor of warring with America is removed.