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Turkey faces decision over boots on the ground in Syria

Turkish media are speculating that the Free Syrian Army militias cannot expel Islamic State from Dabik and al-Bab, so that mission will fall to Turkish infantry.
Turkish army soldiers stand guard at their position near the northern Syrian rebel-controlled town of al-Rai, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi  - RTSPPGG

If all were going well with Operation Euphrates Shield, launched by sending Free Syrian Army (FSA) units into Syria backed by Turkish armor, Hurriyet would not have run the Sept. 21 headline “Infantry to Syria.” The infantry the daily was referring to is not that consisting of Arabs, Turkmens, Islamists and even jihadis fighting in Euphrates Shield. No, it refers to Turkish army infantry, which has not seen combat in Syria.

According to Hurriyet, to wrest al-Bab, some 18 miles from the Turkish border, from the Islamic State (IS), combat infantry forces from the Turkish army will enter Syria along with special forces and armored units. An unidentified senior official was quoted as telling the newspaper that a more comprehensive force would be needed to reach al-Bab. To get to al-Bab, however, Dabik, about 12 miles from the Turkish border, first has to be captured. Intelligence has warned that this will not be as easy as capturing Jarablus, which IS had abandoned. There are trenches around Dabik along with landmines, improvised explosive devices and the danger of anti-tank missiles.

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