Tur­key says ‘plans com­plete’ for as­sault on Kurd mili­tia in Syria

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

ANKARA: Tur­key has com­pleted prepa­ra­tions for a new op­er­a­tion in north­ern­syr­i­ato“de­stroy”aus-backed Kur­dish mili­tia that Ankara con­sid­ers a ter­ror­ist group, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Tues­day.

The Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) holds ter­ri­tory east of the Euphrates River, where Tur­key has re­peat­edly threat­ened to launch a fresh of­fen­sive against the mili­tia.

“We are go­ing to de­stroy the ter­ror­ist struc­ture in the east of the Euphrates. We have com­pleted our prepa­ra­tions, plans, pro­grammes re­gard­ing this is­sue,” Er­do­gan told law­mak­ers from his rul­ing party in par­lia­ment.

Er­do­gan ap­peared to in­di­rectly conirm Turk­ish state me­dia re­ports that Tur­key’s mil­i­tary ired artillery shells at YPG po­si­tions east of the Euphrates in the Kobane region of north­ern Syria on Sun­day. The YPG has held the area since 2015.

“In fact, in the past few days, we have be­gun real in­ter­ven­tions against the ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tion,” Er­do­gan said, with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails.

“We are go­ing to breathe down the necks of the ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tion with com­pre­hen­sive and ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tions soon. As I have al­ways said, we can come sud­denly one night.” Er­do­gan has pre­vi­ously made sim­i­lar threats and on Fri­day gave the YPG a “inal warn­ing”.

The YPG has worked closely with the United States in the ight against the Daesh mil­i­tants in Syria, strain­ing re­la­tions be­tween Washington and Ankara, which says the mili­tia is a “ter­ror­ist off­shoot” of the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a deadly in­sur­gency against the Turk­ish state since 1984 and is black­listed as a ter­ror group by Tur­key, the United States and the Euro­pean Union.

In a bid to lower ten­sions, the United States and Tur­key in June agreed to work to­gether in Man­bij, west of the Euphrates, after Ankara re­peat­edly threat­ened to at­tack the city.

The YPG holds swathes of ter­ri­tory in Syria’s north and north­east. Man­bij is con­trolled by the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF), an um­brella group dom­i­nated by the YPG.

Tur­key and the US agreed to con­duct in­de­pen­dent, co­or­di­nated pa­trols while troops from both coun­tries be­gan train­ing to­gether ear­lier this month.

Turk­ish De­fence Min­is­ter Hu­lusi Akar said on Tues­day that train­ing had been com­pleted and joint pa­trols would be­gin.

Akar added that Tur­key’s next tar­get would be east of the Euphrates.

Ear­lier this year, Turk­ish mil­i­tary forces sup­ported Syr­ian op­po­si­tion ighters in re­tak­ing the western Afrin region from the YPG dur­ing a twom­onth air and ground of­fen­sive dubbed “Olive Branch”.

Ankara pre­vi­ously launched an of­fen­sive be­tween 2016 and 2017 against Daesh on its bor­der with Syria, as well as stop­ping areas un­der YPG con­trol from link­ing up.

Fol­low­ing sev­eral years of ten­sion, there were signs of re­la­tions eas­ing be­tween Washington and Ankara after an Amer­i­can pas­tor, who had been de­tained in Tur­key for two years, was re­leased on Oct.12.

Hun­dreds of Kur­dish ighters have ar­rived in east­ern Syria to help a USbacked al­liance ight the Daesh group after a ma­jor set­back last week, a mon­i­tor said on Tues­day.

The Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF), a Kur­dish-arab al­liance backed by the Us-led coali­tion, launched an of­fen­sive on Sept.10 to ex­pel Daesh from their hold­out of Ha­jin on the Iraqi bor­der.

Agence France-presse

A woman at­tends the fu­neral of a com­man­der from the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces in the Kur­dish-con­trolled city of Qamishly in north­east­ern Syria on Mon­day.

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