Turkey's Syria offensive to happen in stages starting from Tal Rifaat: source
Turkey's anticipated military operation in northern Syria will happen in stages and begin within days, The New Arab's sister site has revealed.
The ground operation will initially include the Tal Rifaat area, and the subsequent phases will include Ain Al-Arab (Kobane) and Manbij, all Kurdish-majority towns, Turkish diplomatic sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
They added that Turkey is leading consultations with Russia "to reach consensus and complete this process".
Turkish forces this week launched a wave of airstrikes on suspected Kurdish rebels hiding in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, in retaliation for a deadly 13 November bombing in Istanbul that Ankara blames on the Kurdish groups, which have in turn denied involvement.
The airstrikes have killed dozens, including Kurdish fighters, Syrian regime soldiers, a journalist, and other civilians.
Russia and the US - both of which also have a military presence in Syria - have urged for de-escalation.
Syrian regime forces will withdraw in the event of a Turkish-Russian understanding for Tal Rifaat, sources said, while an operation in Ain Al-Arab and Manbij is expected in the coming months.
Sources in the Syrian opposition also confirmed to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed the preparations underway for the Tal Rifaat operation, revealing that plans were drawn up and tasks were distributed to the factions on which areas they will work to control.
Turkey's military has conducted three offensives since 2016, mostly targeting Kurdish fighters, and captured territory in northern Syria, which is now held by Turkish-backed proxies, including the opposition Syrian National Army group.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - the Kurds' de-facto army in the area - led the battle that dislodged Islamic State group fighters from the last scraps of their Syrian territory in 2019.
The SDF says recent Turkish airstrikes on their strongholds have disrupted the fight against Islamic State group militants.