Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdan said Monday that a new military campaign will be launched in north Syria. He did not give details but indicated that Turkey will likely launch an incursion against areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias. This is something Turkey has done three times since 2016.
“We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30-km deep safe zone we established along our southern border,”According to AP Erdogan stated this after a Cabinet meeting.
“The main target of these operations will be areas which are centers of attacks to our country and safe zones,”He added that, according to Reuters. Operations will begin once Turkey’s military, intelligence and security forces complete their preparations, Erdogan said without elaborating further.
Ankara’s troops have been sent to Syria three times, with the first being Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016. The most recent incursion, 2019’s Operation Peace Spring, was met with US sanctions and a war of words between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Turkey currently controls portions of Syria’s Aleppo, Raqqa and Hasakah governorates, in addition to supporting militants in Idlib.
Turkey sent troops to Iraq last month as part of Operation Claw-Lock. It targeted Kurdish militias located in northern Iraqi regions such as Metina and Zap. Baghdad denounced the operation as violating Iraqi sovereignty but was unable to take any action.
Turkey has accused the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara has designated as a terrorist organization. Since 2015, the US has used YPG as the basis of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a proxy militia it armed and supplies to fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists – and deny the liberated territory to the government in Damascus, which Washington seeks to overthrow.
Supported by more than 2,000 US troops the SDF holds current control of the northeastern part of Syria. This includes most of Syria’s arable and oil land.
Erdogan expressed his objection to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. He was referring to the fact that two Scandinavian countries have given political asylum to Kurdish activists Turkey views as terrorists.