A coalition of Turkey-backed rebels were given access to Turkish soil through which to launch an invasion of the ISIS border city of Jarabulus, but what happened was a lot bigger than anyone expected, as the rebels didn’t go alone, but were joined by a significant Turkish military contingent, which invaded along with them.
— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) August 24, 2016
Turkish special forces and tanks rolled across the border today, and fairly quickly secured Jarabulus for the rebels. It’s not clear how much fighting even took place, as the bulk of ISIS’ forces there are said to have retreated outright in the face of the offensive.
Turkey was desperate to see a non-Kurdish faction capture Jarabulus, not wanting the important border crossing in Kurdish hands. After the YPG took the city of Manbij, just to the south, Turkey scrambled to get an alternate group to Jarabulus, and apparently was willing to go to the extent of taking the city for them.
How well this rebel coalition, dominated by the al-Qaeda-linked Ahrar al-Sham, is able to hold Jarabulus on their own remains to be seen, but Turkish forces haven’t left yet at any rate, and with officials continuing to demand that the Kurds abandon Manbij, it is entirely possible the Turkish offensive isn’t over.