Since as early as October 2018, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been threatening to invade the area of northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to establish a "safe zone" along the Turkey-Syria border. There are American forces in or near this area. After meetings to discuss the issue between American and Turkish officials on August 5-7, 2019, a Combined Joint Operations Center (CJOC) was established on August 12 in Akçakale, a small town located on the Syria-Turkey border and in the province of Şanlıurfa, Turkey, to coordinate the two countries' joint military action in northern Syria. Joint air patrols comprising U.S. and Turkish forces began in late August and joint land patrols began in early September.
Despite these joint patrols, Turkish statements on an intended invasion of northeast Syria have increased in frequency over the past several months, and in a speech on September 5, President Erdoğan set the end of September as a deadline for large-scale action, saying: "Turkey cannot remain a spectator to the situation in the east of the Euphrates... We are determined to start forming in action the safe zone in east of the Euphrates in the way that we want to by the last week of September... The threats of sanctions made against our country do not scare us, and they will not make us take a step back. In fact, they clinch our decisiveness on the path that we are walking."
President Erdoğan apparently sees the joint U.S.-Turkish patrols as insufficient. On September 8, after the first joint land patrol, he said: "This job will not be done with three or five helicopter flights, by a patrol of five or ten vehicles, and a few hundred soldiers in the area for show... It's clear that our ally [i.e., the U.S.] is interested in establishing a safe zone not for us, but for the terror organization [i.e., Kurdish forces in Syria]. We reject such an understanding. We are talking with the U.S. about the safe zone, but we see at every step that what we want is not the same as what is in their minds." On September 23, Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak reported that in the past six months the U.S. had delivered 3,700 shipping containers full of weapons to the Partiya Karkaren Kurdistane (PKK) in Syria and trained 7,000 PKK fighters.
A map showing, approximately, the Turkish government's aim for its "safe zone" in northeast Syria in orange (source: Stratejikortak.com).
On September 21, it was reported that many doctors from 19 Turkish provinces had been moved to the provinces of Mardin and Urfa, both of which border the area in Syria that the Turkish military may invade. On September 22, a convoy of ten vehicles carrying additional "generators and logistical material" reached Akçakale, where the CJOC is located. The same day, President Erdoğan announced that all of the preparations at the border were complete, though reports of tanks and howitzers moving to the Syrian border continued in the following days.
In his September 24 speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Erdoğan talked about the Syrian War, about the matter of Syrian refugees in Turkey, their cost to Turkey, the intended safe zone, and said: "The third important point is the removal of the PKK-YPG terror organization in the east of the Euphrates, which is occupying a quarter of Syria, and which some are trying to legitimize with the name 'Syrian Democratic Forces'... Our discussions with the United States of America on the formation of a safe zone are ongoing. Our intention in the first stage, by installing a peace corridor that is 30 kilometers deep and 480 kilometers wide, is to have the international community house two million Syrians... When this safe zone is established, we can easily settle between one and two million refugees there. It may be America, or coalition forces, or Russia, Iran; all together, by joining forces we can get these refugees out of tent cities, and out of container cities, and settle them there in this safe zone. We have to take these steps together. Turkey cannot do this by itself."
President Erdoğan speaking at the UNGA in 2019 (source: Sabah.com.tr).
In general, President Erdoğan speaks about the intended safe zone east of the Euphrates from two angles: the security problem for Turkey of having the PKK on the Turkey-Syria border; and the Syrian refugees in Turkey, on whom the Turkish government has reportedly spent $40 billion and who are a cause of social tension in Turkey. Though President Erdoğan sometimes describes these two problems separately, other times he talks about the intended safe zone as a solution to both problems. If these two are inseparable, and there is no international support for the relocation of one to two million Syrian refugees, then the invasion is not possible. If these two matters can be separated, then he may invade northeast Syria and deal with the matter of resettling the refugees at a later date. In his speech at the UN, he said that Turkey cannot resettle refugees by itself, but he did not say anything about the intended Turkish invasion to establish a safe zone.
Before traveling to the U.S. for the UNGA, President Erdoğan said that he intended to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump during his visit in order to discuss the safe zone, however, such a meeting has not taken place. Erdoğan and his wife, Emine, were photographed at a reception with President Trump and his wife, Melania. One Turkish headline about the lack of a meeting between the two leaders at UNGA read: "Trump Frustration: A One-On-One Meeting Didn't Happen."
On September 18, at an off-camera press briefing at the Pentagon, Defeat-ISIS Task Force Director Chris Maier answered questions from journalists. To a question about how the Turkish government refers to the plan as a "safe zone" while the U.S. government refers to it as a "security mechanism," Maier said: "We use the term 'security mechanism' just because we think it's more apt from the military perspective of what we're trying to achieve here." To a question about whether the U.S. was providing arms to Kurdish forces in Syria, he said: "We continue to provide very tailored arms and vehicles to the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces], but specifically for the D-ISIS [defeat ISIS] mission... We provide monthly to Turkey a report of what those arms and vehicles are." After answering questions about plans to remove SDF fortifications in northern Syria, Maier said: "The security mechanism is the United States helps guarantee the security, both working in a combined fashion with Turkey, Turkish concerns, and addressing those concerns, but also to the Syrian Democratic Forces... we're pretty convinced that as we work with Turkey, the idea of a Turkish incursion into Syria has gone down substantially." To a question about reports that the Turkish government was moving concrete equipment for fortifications across the border from Turkey into Syria, Maier said: "I don't know of any concrete Turkish fortifications being moved across the border." To a question about what the next steps were, Maier said: "This has really only been in play and being implemented since late August. the word I might use here is more 'thickening' of the activities we're doing."
There is a big difference between the ways the U.S. and Turkish governments are relating to the matter. While the United States sees the security concerns of Turkey as legitimate and is participating in joint patrols on land and in the air, President Erdoğan has indicated that this is not enough. Three days before the end of September, which is the timeframe that Erdoğan gave in his ultimatum, it remains unclear what Turkey will do and how this will affect Turkey-U.S. relations.
This report will review the joint U.S.-Turkish military action that has occurred in northeast Syria in recent months, Turkish plans for the area, how Turkish government statements on its possible invasion of the area have been clear and unified, and how much of the Turkish press supports it while some have criticized the intended action, and statements indicating how such an invasion may affect Turkey-Russia relations.
Joint U.S.-Turkish Air, Ground Patrols And Turkish F-16 Flights
U.S. and Turkish helicopters first jointly patrolled the area east of the Euphrates in northeast Syria on August 24. Similar joint helicopter patrols took place on August 30, September 5, September 12, September 16, and September 21. Turkish F-16s flew over Syria on September 23, 24, 25, 27. While the September 23 flight was described as being simply in "Syrian airspace," the Defense Ministry said that the other flights were specifically over the "east of the Euphrates," all apparently with American consent.
On September 8, Turkish and U.S. land forces first jointly patrolled northeast Syria. The patrol was made up of six Turkish armored vehicles, six U.S. vehicles, including two mine-clearing vehicles, two U.S. helicopters, and one ambulance. There had been reports that Kurdish forces had been mining the area. Turkish forces came from the Turkish village of Akçakoca, which is 30 kilometers east of Şanlıurfa's Akçakale district, met at the Turkey-Syria border with the U.S. forces, which came from inside Syria. A Turkish reconnaissance drone surveyed the area into which the patrol was to go. After the three-hour patrol, the Turkish forces returned to Turkey. On the same day, the Syrian government condemned the joint patrol, calling it an "open violation of [Syria's] sovereignty." The second joint ground patrol was completed on September 24.
Turkish military vehicles crossing the Turkey-Syria border (source: Ntv.com.tr).
Turkish Plans For Northeast Syria: Merge With Safe Zone In Northern Iraq; Resettle 1,000,000 Syrians
Turkish authorities have said that cities made of shipping containers and observation points manned by the Turkish armed forces would be established in the area east of the Euphrates after Turkish troops clear the area of Kurdish forces. Of the September 8 ground patrol, military authorities said that this action was preliminary, and that it "allowed the joint patrols to proceed not in the direction that the U.S. wanted, but in the direction that we want. [Turkish] troops now have a say in the region."
The military sources said, according to one Turkish news outlet, that "in the first phase, the scanning would continue regarding perimeter security, and that a check had been completed concerning whether the terrorists had withdrawn with their weapons. The sources further said that after all the checks, sometimes from the air, sometimes from the ground, were done, one section of the security walls would be taken down and troops would be moved into the area.
"The shelters, cover, and fortifications that the terrorists had built would be destroyed and the heavy weapons in the hands of the remaining terrorists would be confiscated, and after the terrorists had withdrawn from the region and moved south, the locations of observation points to be be manned by Turkish troops would established. Along with clearing the mines and traps that the Kurdish forces may have left in the area, the construction of the observation points would be completed. The safe zone, which would completely clear the Turkey-Syria border, would be expanded in stages and united with the region in Iraq that is being cleared of terrorists." The Turkish military has recently continued its action against PKK fighters in northern Iraq in what it has called Operation Claw I, II, and III. Claw I began on May 27, 2019, Claw II began on July 12, and Claw III began on August 23.
Turkish military operations, called Operation Claw I-III, to establish a safe zone in northern Iraq have been ongoing since May 2019 (source: Posta.com.tr).
On September 7, President Erdoğan said of Turkish plans to move Syrian refugees living in Turkey into the safe zone once it is established: "After the safe zone east of the Euphrates is complete, we will settle one million people there... We have the east of the Euphrates on our agenda and inshallah, in a few weeks, in one way or another we will be on a path to solving it."
Erdogan: "If [We Get The Support], Great – If Not, We'll Be Forced To Open The [Border] Gates"
On September 5, President Erdoğan said he would allow Syrian refugees living in Turkey to enter Europe if he did not get the necessary support for the safe zone in northeast Syria: "If [we get the support], great. If not, we'll be forced to open the [border] gates... I am saying it here today: We have not received from the world – least of all from the EU – the necessary support on the matter of the refugees that we have hosted, and to get [that support] we may be forced to [open the border]." After this speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Erdoğan on the phone on September 11 in order to preserve the March 2016 agreement on the matter of refugees and on September 13, a delegation from Turkey met with EU counterparts in Brussels.
President Erdoğan, FM Çavuşoğlu, Defense Minister Akar Escalate Their Threats To Invade Northeast Syria – "We Will Enter The [Area] East Of The Euphrates"
On July 26, 2019, President Erdoğan said: "No matter how the talks with America end, we are determined to smash to pieces the terror corridor east of the Euphrates. We will do whatever we have to. We do not need to get permission." On August 4, he said: "We entered Afrin, we entered Jarablus, we entered Al-Bab, and now we will enter the [area] east of the Euphrates." On August 12, he said: "We expressed that we will begin our operation to save the [area] east of the Euphrates from the divisive terror organization within a few days." On August 30, at a speech commemorating the 97th anniversary of the Turkish victory at the 1922 Battle of Dumlupınar, he said: "We will definitely not allow wolves to snatch up and eat our sheep east of Dicle, and if necessary, east of the Euphrates. Our land, sea, air forces and our other elements are on duty 24 hours a day."
On September 18, President Erdoğan reiterated his statement from September 5 that the end of September was the deadline for joint military action with the U.S., saying: "If there are no results in two weeks, we are going to put in place our own operational plans." On September 24, at the Sustainable Development Goals summit of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdoğan said: "We have been revitalizing the schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and superstructure in the regions across Syria that we have cleared of terrorists. With the same goal, we are now preparing to clear [the area] east of the Euphrates of terrorists."
On August 11, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said: "The area east of the Euphrates will be cleared at any cost. We are not going to allow America to enter a stalling pattern as [was done] in Manbij." On September 10, Çavuşoğlu reiterated: "There are some joint patrols with the U.S., aside from that, the steps that are said to have been taken are cosmetic steps... We see that the U.S. is trying to enter a stalling pattern. We are talking about a so-called ally that cannot operate independently of a terror organization. On the one hand it is continuing to support the YPG-PKK. America is trying to establish a safe zone for these terrorists. Turkey's plan is ready. If there are no results from this cooperation, we will enter the region. Just as we cleared the Afrin and the Euphrates Shield regions, we will clear [this region] too. Also, Syrians will return to [this region], their basic needs will be met. The U.S.'s position up to now has been a pro-PKK-YPG position."
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (source: Aa.com.tr).
On July 29, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper: "It was expressed that if we do not reach a common point with the U.S., we will be forced to form the Security Zone by ourselves." On September 10, Akar said: "As our honorable president has said again and again, we want to fight terror together in a way that is proper for a strategic partnership and alliance. We are trying to finish this job with discussions and commitment, but it will not always be this way: we will not wait forever." Akar said on September 3: "We will not permit a terror corridor in northern Syria... If necessary, as our honorable president said, we will cut our stomach ourselves."
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (source: Sozcu.com.tr).
Praise From Turkish Commentators And Government For Intended Invasion Of Northeast Syria – İbrahim Karagül, Editor In Chief Of Yeni Şafak Daily: "An Intervention Must Be Conducted Even If It Means Suicide"
The intended action has been praised and encouraged by Turkish government officials and members of the press. İbrahim Karagül, editor in chief of pro-government daily Yeni Şafak, wrote in a September 5 column that: "Those drawing the region's maps today are one and the same as those who drew them post-World War I. Just as all maps were prepared against Turkey post-World War I, they are being prepared against Turkey again today... All deals with the U.S. are aimed at stalling Turkey and buying time for the project. This is why they have not kept any of the promises they made until now, including the promise concerning Manbij. They will never keep their promises...
"The east of Euphrates does not encompass the north of Syria alone. The east of Euphrates is also the East Mediterranean. It is also the Aegean... I wrote on many occasions two years ago an intervention must be conducted 'even if it means suicide.' I still maintain the same opinion. As a matter of fact, the threat is much greater today; the region is a stage to the show of force by those dying to settle scores with Turkey... Turkey is going to go ahead with this great fight. It has no other choice and it also has the power to do so. Because this nation has been continuing this same fight, non-stop since the Seljuk Empire. The steps we take will be long-term. The east of the Euphrates is one of these long-term steps as well."
In a September 12 column, Karagül wrote: "The biggest front after WWI is being built east of the Euphrates... Defending Turkey is not only Erdoğan's duty, but that of everyone who considers this country their homeland.... The 'Syria issue' has been transformed into an issue of 'U.S. occupation.' One-third of the country has been invaded by using the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Daesh as an excuse."
After the September 8 ground patrol, Turkish terrorism and security expert Coşkun Başbuğ said that the U.S. had recognized Turkey's decisiveness on the issue. On August 12, Mehmet Ali Sahin, member of the presidency's High Advisory Council, said: "If the AKP were not in power, if Recep Tayyip Erdogan were not in the Turkish government, that terror state would have been established on the Syrian border long ago." On June 5, Yeni Şafak reported on a survey that found that of 9,317 Turks surveyed, 77 percent favored an invasion of northeast Syria east of the Euphrates, while 23 percent were against it.
Criticism From Turkish Press Of Intended Invasion Of Northeast Syria – "Turkey Can Take No Military Action In The Face Of The U.S."
On September 10, Dr. İlhan Uzgel, professor of international relations at Ankara University, said in an interview that Turkey would not be able to take military action east of the Euphrates. He said that as the Syrian War ends, Turkish forces would be forced to withdraw from both Idlib and from Afrin, and that after the people of Syria, Turkey would pay the highest price for the Syrian War. Of Erdoğan's threat to invade Syria by the end of September, Uzgel said: "Turkey says this very often, and this is objectionable from a diplomacy standpoint. If you repeat something a lot and then do not do it, the value of your word declines, it becomes discredited. For the last year and a half Turkey has been been saying things like 'one night we may come without warning,' whose persuasiveness and deterrence have declined as time goes on... Turkey may be bartering high in order solve the F-35 issue and that of the sanctions... Turkey can take no military action in the face of the U.S."
Of the U.S.'s relations with Kurdish forces in Syria, Dr. Uzgel said: "If the PYD, with which Washington has an alliance, is liquidated, the U.S. will gain nothing, the Syria policy that it has pursued since 2011 will have collapsed. There are dimensions such as Iran being surrounded, and Israel's security. This is the U.S.'s red line... [The U.S.] does not prefer the Kurds. It views Turkey's battle with the PKK as a legitimate right, but [the U.S.] says: 'Syria is a place outside of your territory. I have issues with Iran and Syria here, you battle your own Kurds however you want to.' Turkey bombs Iraq, crushes the PKK, throws [Kurdish] members of parliament in prison, appoints trustees [in place of elected Kurdish mayors]. The U.S. does not say anything about this. But it says: 'Syria is an area where I realize my strategic goals because I have no other option.'"
On Turkish military action in Idlib, Dr. Uzgel said: "In some ways Idlib is more critical because there, Turkey is in a defensive position, whereas with the area east of the Euphrates, it is waiting inside its own borders. In Idlib there is an active [Turkish] military presence. It is pressed by radical Islamists on the one hand and the Syrian army on the other. The radical Islamists did not keep their promise to disarm... Turkey's observation points have been attacked. The Syrian army has cut Turkey's connections and isolated it. In contrast with the area east of the Euphrates, there is the risk that [Turkish] soldiers could be taken hostage... To open the connections, you would have to fight the Syrian army and ask Russia to open up airspace. This is a very dangerous game. You do all of these things to protect radical Islamists from the Syrian army and block migration [across] the border. In the end the Syrian army will enter [Idlib]. This is not a situation that can continue indefinitely."
In a July 29 column titled "The Area East Of The Euphrates Is Not A Watermelon Farm, Mr. Devlet [Bahçeli]!" Turkish sociologist Oya Baydar wrote of the intended invasion of northeast Syria: "Chauvinist nationalist expansionism gnaws at and poisons society; it rots the country from the inside and in the end it will drive it to collapse... Do we realize what the east of the Euphrates operation, which has been talked about for months, and is circulated as a threat worse than the sword of Damocles and a show of valor, really means?...
"First, let's know that, despite the phony news reports that are intentionally served up [to viewers], aside from the disturbances at the border by jihadis, the Islamic State (ISIS), Jabhat Al-Nusra, and similar [groups], especially from the Rojava region, there has not been a threat or an attack against Turkey worth noting. The state, the missions in the region, the experts, the observers, the secret and open services, and everyone [else] knows this. But everyone remains silent, some because they do not want to fall out of favor with the state and the ruling power, or because they support the government's policy, some to make an excuse for a conquering, expansionist policy, and some out of fear...
"The Syria-Turkey border is 911 kilometers. You [i.e., the Turkish government] entered one section of it (Afrin, Idlib) anyway and took total control of one (Afrin) and settled in it. To enter 35 kilometers along the length of the border – in fact, in some places more is demanded, and in other places less – means to spread out over a total of 185,180 square kilometers, or about one sixth of Syrian soil. When we remember that most of Syrian territory is deserts, barren, and empty, the territory that we would take control of would be about one third of this unlucky country.
"Think for a moment, in fact, let Mr. Devlet, who is frothing at the mouth, and the honorable Tayyip Erdoğan, who talks about law and right, religion and faith, think: May Allah not let it happen, but imagine the opposite. What if Syria or another country on our border, with the excuse of a cross-border threat, presumed to enter 35-40 kilometers into our country, and eyed one sixth of our soil, what would happen, what would would we do! The peoples of Turkey showed, with the [Turkish] Independence War, what they would do in such a situation."
Statements On Impact Of Intended Invasion Of Northeast Syria On Turkey-Russia Relations – "When The Problems Concerning Providing Security And Fighting Terror Have Been Solved, Syria's Territorial Integrity Will Be Provided Completely"
On August 15, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said of the intended Turkish operation in the area east of the Euphrates, "the approval of Damascus must be given for any counter-terror activities. Because we are talking about a sovereign country, this is the first and absolute requirement. This is Russia's primary stance, which does not change in anyway and is valid for operations organized by Turkey as well. Without any doubt, we are in contact with our Turkish partners. There are questions that are already answered and questions that have not yet been answered, but this does not change the fact that Syria, as a sovereign country, needs to control its territory and has the right to make decisions about what happens on its soil."
Turkish Journalist Murat Yetkin wrote on his blog on August 23 that "In Syria, we are caught between the U.S. and Russia, this error should be corrected before we hear worse news... At 5:30 am on August 19, a Russian Su-22 warplane struck a civilian vehicle traveling with a Turkish military convoy around Idlib. It struck with such precision that the Turkish military vehicles in front of and behind the civilian vehicle were not damaged. But the Defense Ministry said that three civilians died in the vehicle." The Turkish Defense Ministry reported an attack on August 19 on a convoy heading to Turkey's "observation point number nine" in Idlib in which three civilians were killed and 12 civilians were wounded.
At an August 27 joint press conference with President Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin following a meeting between the two leaders, President Erdoğan again expressed the need for a safe zone in the area east of the Euphrates in Syria. He said: "These disturbances against Turkey are continuing from time to time. As long as these disturbances continue, it is not possible for our hands to remain tied."
On September 15, President Erdoğan, President Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rohani met in Ankara for a "Syria Summit." Erdoğan said after the meeting: "This matter has critical importance for Syria's political unity and its territorial sovereignty. Already, more than a quarter of Syria's territory is occupied by a separatist terror organization. This organization is enacting every cruelty, from [enlisting] child soldiers to forced conscription, from ethnic cleansing activities to robbing people of their property. The attack on the hospital in Çobanbey is the most recent example of this." Twelve civilians were reportedly killed in the September 15 car bombing of a hospital in the town of Çobanbey, in Syria near the Turkey-Syria border.
A Turkish news outlet summarized Putin's words regarding the intended Turkish invasion the area of Syria east of the Euphrates after the September 15 meeting in Ankara as follows: "U.S. forces are in Syria illegitimately. We are waiting for U.S. President Donald Trump to fully apply his decision to withdraw from there completely. All states in the region, including Turkey, have the right to protect their own national security. We are all in favor of Syria's territorial integrity. When the problems concerning providing security and fighting terror have been solved, Syria's territorial integrity will be provided completely. This is valid for the withdrawal of all foreign military units from Syria. This will be possible with the transfer of the provision of security of northeast Syria to the regional government of Syria."
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 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8281 Turkish President Erdoğan Threatens To Let Refugees Cross Into Europe Unless International Community Supports Turkey's Plans For Northern Syria, September 18, 2019.
 Bbc.com/news/world-europe-35854413, March 20, 2016.
 Amerikaninsesi.com/a/merkelden-turkiyeyle-multeci-anlasmasini-kurtarma-cabasi/5082325.html, September 13, 2019.
 Cnnturk.com/dunya/brukselde-turkiye-ab-siyasi-diyalog-toplantisi-duzenlendi, September 13, 2019.
 Bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-49134096, July 29, 2019.
 Dw.com/tr/erdo%C4%9Fan-f%C4%B1rat%C4%B1n-do%C4%9Fusuna-girece%C4%9Fiz/a-49889485, August 4, 2019.
 Haberturk.com/son-dakika-erdogan-firat-in-dogusu-operasyonuna-birkac-gune-basliyoruz-2257585, August 12, 2019.
 Ilkha.com/guncel/cumhurbaskani-erdogan-firatin-dogusunda-kuzularimizi-kurtlara-kaptirtmayacagiz-103428, August 31, 2019.
 Yenisafak.com/gundem/cumhurbaskani-erdogan-kendi-harekat-planimizi-devreye-sokacagiz-3506787, September 18, 2019.
 Iletisim.gov.tr/english/haberler/detay/president-erdogan-attends-sustainable-development-goals-summit, September 24, 2019.
 Ocakmedya.com/amerikanin-bizi-oyalamasina-musaade-etmeyecegiz, August 11, 2019.
 The Yekineyen Parastina Gel (YPG) is a primarily Kurdish group in Syria and is the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
 Karar.com/guncel-haberler/bakani-akar-abdli-esperle-gorustu-anlasma-olmazsa-guvenli-bolgeyi-tek-basimiza-olustururuz-1283169, July 29, 2019.
 Amerikaninsesi.com/a/firatin-dogusunda-turkiye-ile-abd-arasindaki-guven-bunalimi-suruyor/5077785.html, September 10, 2019.
 Amerikaninsesi.com/a/akar-firatin-dogusunda-kendi-gobegimizi-kesebilecek-durumdayiz/5067435.html, September 3, 2019.
 "To cut your own stomach" is a Turkish expression meaning "to accomplish something for yourself despite many difficulties."
 Yenisafak.com/en/columns/ibrahimkaragul/an-intervention-must-be-conducted-east-of-the-euphrates-in-syria-even-if-it-means-suicide-this-is-the-only-game-spoiling-operation-both-within-the-country-and-abroad-the-threat-is-much-greater-than-perceived-2047159, September 5, 2019.
 Yenisafak.com/en/columns/ibrahimkaragul/the-sole-problem-in-syria-is-the-us-occupation-this-matter-directly-concerns-turkey-the-biggest-front-after-wwi-is-being-built-east-of-the-euphrates-defending-turkey-is-not-only-erdogans-duty-but-that-of-everyone-who-considers-this-country-their-homeland-2047164, September 12, 2019.
 Sabah.com.tr/webtv/turkiye/coskun-basbug-abd-turkiyenin-kararliligini-gordu, September 8, 2019.
 Memurlar.net/haber/848892/ak-parti-olmasaydi-sinirinda-teror-devleti-kurulurdu.html, August 12, 2019.
 Yenisafak.com/gundem/milletten-tam-destek-3473745, June 5, 2019.
 Dw.com/tr/uzgel-t%C3%BCrkiye-f%C4%B1rat%C4%B1n-do%C4%9Fusuna-asker-g%C3%B6nderemez/a-50362792, September 10, 2019.
 Devlet Bahçeli is the leader of the Milliyet Halk Partisi (MHP), a Turkish party allied with President Erdoğan's Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP).
 T24.com.tr/yazarlar/oya-baydar/firat-in-dogusu-karpuz-tarlasi-degil-devlet-bey,23276, July 29, 2019.
 Cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/dunya/1534964/Rusya_nin__Firat_in_dogusu__aciklamasinda__Sam__vurgusu.html, August 15, 2019.
 Yetkinreport.com/2019/08/23/suriyede-abd-ile-rusya-arasinda-kaldik-daha-kotu-haberler-gelmeden-yanlistan-donulmeli, August 23, 2019.
 Aa.com.tr/tr/turkiye/idlibde-askeri-konvoya-saldiri/1559639, August 19, 2019.
 Haberler.com/erdogan-firat-in-dogusu-bu-tacizler-devam-ettigi-12366987-haberi, August 27, 2019.
 Haksozhaber.net/suriyede-turkiye-sinirindaki-hastaneye-saldiri-12-olu-119142h.htm, September 15, 2019.
 Aydinlik.com.tr/turkiye-rusya-iran-suriye-firat-in-dogusu-temizlenecek-turkiye-eylul-2019, September 18, 2019.