Home » Turkey will launch Syria ground operation after strikes – Erdogan

Turkey will launch Syria ground operation after strikes – Erdogan

by Mahmmod Shar


Turkey has said it is planning a ground operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), after four days of strikes in Syria and Iraq.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the strikes – which his defence minister claimed had “neutralised” 254 terrorists – were “only the beginning”.

Turkey has blamed Kurdish groups for a recent deadly bomb attack in Istanbul.

The YPG has denied involvement and said the strikes in north-east Syria have killed 30 civilians and 11 fighters.

The US defence department said the Turkish attacks had “directly threatened the safety of US personnel” working in Syria to defeat jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed militia alliance dominated by the YPG, has accused Turkey of using the Istanbul bombing as a pretext to launch a long-planned cross-border offensive.

The Turkish military has launched three large-scale operations with allied Syrian rebel groups in northern Syria since 2016 and currently controls a swathe of territory running along more than 325km (200 miles) of the border.

The most recent operation, in 2019, saw Turkey capture the area between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain before Russia brokered a ceasefire.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, insisting that it is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades. The PKK has also denied involvement in the Istanbul bombing, which killed six people in the city’s central Istiklal Avenue on 13 November.

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In a speech to members of his AK Party in parliament on Thursday, President Erdogan said Turkey’s determination to secure its border with Syria and establish a “security corridor” was “stronger than ever before”.

“We are continuing the air operation and will come down hard on the terrorists from land at the most convenient time for us,” he warned.

SDF commander Mazloum Abdi told Al-Monitor that he believed his hometown of Kobane would be the “true target” of any ground assault and alleged that the Istanbul attack was “perpetrated by Syrian opposition groups operating under Turkey’s control”.

Mr Abdi also said Russia and the US were not doing enough to deter Turkey.

Turkey has been cautioned by Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, that a large-scale ground offensive could lead to an uptick in hostilities.

Alexander Lavrentyev, a Russian negotiator, said on Wednesday after talks in Kazakhstan, “We hope our arguments will be heard in Ankara and other ways of resolving the problem will be found.”

The US, Turkey’s NATO ally, issued a warning about the potential effects of any escalation on the fight against Islamic State. To defeat IS in eastern Syria, the US turned to the YPG and other SDF militias.

The al-Hol detention camp, where the relatives of alleged IS militants are being held, is being guarded by Kurdish security forces, according to the SDF, which reported on Wednesday that five Turkish airstrikes had targeted those forces.

In the meantime, the US military claimed that US troops were in danger following a Turkish drone attack on Mazloum Abdi’s main headquarters north of Hassakeh on Tuesday. Two of the SDF’s fighters were killed, according to the SDF.

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