Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo credit: President of Russia (CC BY 3.0)

Following several days of intense artillery bombardment and air strikes, the Turkish army launched a ground invasion of the Syrian Kurdish canton of Afrin on Monday.

WhoWhatWhy reported on the likelihood of such an operation last August. Many experts are now saying what we wrote months ago: that the Turkish operation tests American resolve to bring the war against the Islamic State to a completion and reveals American weaknesses in Syria.

Many details about the operation and its progress are still unclear. As of Sunday evening, the Turkish army and its Syrian allies claim to have captured several villages on the outskirts of Afrin, though the YPG, or Syrian Kurdish militia, has denied this claim.

Experts have long contended that Turkey would be unable to execute such an operation without Russian acquiescence. Russia reportedly pulled the troops it had stationed in Afrin out over the weekend. Now, speculation centers on the specifics of a deal that is believed to have taken place between Russia and Turkey, enabling the Turkish invasion. We are following closely and will be reporting on the operation as it unfolds. Stay tuned.