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Turkey’s military options in Iraq and Syria hinge on US and Russia

Any Turkish military move into northern Iraq or northern Syria seems highly unlikely without US or Russian consent respectively.

“We could arrive suddenly one night” was the common front-page headline in several Turkish newspapers Sept. 26. In a chorus, the papers were trumpeting the warning of military action that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had issued to the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) the day before over its independence referendum. The Turkish army had already launched maneuvers near the Habur border crossing with the KRG, involving armor and mechanized units backed by T-129 attack helicopters from the air.

The ongoing maneuvers have since grown into a full-fledged military exercise, with Iraqi counterterrorism teams joining the third phase Sept. 26, marking the first joint military drills between the two countries in years. Is the military flurry on the ground a harbinger of a looming Turkish military operation into northern Iraq?

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