Turkish Special Forces took up the challenge and showed the world that they represent the most effective ground force that could fight Daesh in the battlefield.
Despite multiple domestic security challenges at home in the wake of intensifying PKK and Daesh attacks, this is why Turkey is determined to continue Operation Euphrates Shield until the main strategic targets are accomplished. These targets include, among others, interrupting the formation of a PYD corridor in northern Syria between Afrin and Manbij with substantial American support, maintaining the safe zone for potential future waves of migration and countering the Daesh threat away from Turkey’s borders. In this context, the strategic Syrian city of al-Bab, so far controlled by Daesh, constitutes one of the key milestones in the advance of Turkish Special Forces along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The fight for al-Bab will be extremely tough as the province represents the last major settlement before the major Daesh stronghold of Raqqa, and Turkish Special Forces (TSK) are called on to play an active combat role rather than the supporting duties they have performed so far. News concerning 16 Turkish soldiers killed in Daesh attacks in a single day in al-Bab, along with horrible images that circulated in social media of two slain soldiers by Daesh operatives triggered widespread social grief.
This news, on top of the 46 police officers and 14 soldiers recently killed by PKK attacks in Istanbul and Kayseri, added to the negative atmosphere of pain and anxiety in Turkish society. But the commonsense and collective memory of this society is experiencing testing times, terrorist attacks and international meddling aimed at undermining the integrity of the state and the social fabric. Therefore, social support for Operation Euphrates Shield and the fight for al-Bab remains strong despite news of fallen soldiers. There is widespread acceptance that Turkey’s national security depends on strategic dominance over the PYD and Daesh in Syria, and the only way to achieve this dominance is to accomplish strategic priorities of the ongoing operation, including total control of al-Bab. Although this requires fighting Daesh head on in one of its heartlands, Turkish Special Forces took up the challenge and showed the world that they represent the most effective ground force fighting Daesh on the battlefield. This will obviously undermine the basis for American support to the PYD on the pretext that only they could effectively fight against Daesh and pave the way for Turkey’s future moves towards Afrin and Manbij to further constrain the PYD’s geostrategic presence. What we need is stamina and patience.