Turkey will soon launch a new military operation in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. Although he did not provide any specific information, the infiltration is likely to target areas occupied by US-backed Kurdish militias, which Turkey has already done on three occasions since 2016.
“We will soon take new steps regarding the unfinished parts of the project that we have started in the 30 km deep safe zone on our southern border.” The AP quoted Erdogan as saying after a cabinet meeting.
“The main target of these operations will be areas that are the center of attack and safe havens in our country.” He added, according to Reuters. The operation will begin after Turkish military, intelligence and security forces complete their preparations, Erdogan said without elaborating.
Ankara has already sent troops to Syria three times since Operation Euphrates Shield began in 2016. The most recent intrusion was Operation Peace Spring 2019, the US embargo and the war of words between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Turkey is currently supporting militants in Idlib, as well as controlling parts of the Syrian governorates of Aleppo, Raqqa and Haskah.
Last month, Turkey also sent troops to Iraq, known as Operation Clock-Lock, targeting Kurdish militias north of Matina, Zap and Avasin-Basin. Baghdad has condemned the operation as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, but has said nothing.
Turkey has accused the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara has identified as a terrorist organization. Since 2015, the U.S. has used the YPG as a base for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), providing a proxy militia to fight armed and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists – and denying the Damascus government independent territory, which Washington Wants to overthrow
Supported by about 2,000 U.S. troops, the SDF currently occupies the northeastern part of Syria, consisting mostly of oil wells and arable land.
Erdogan recently objected to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, as the two Scandinavian governments have granted political asylum to a number of Kurdish activists whom Turkey considers terrorists.