Er­do­gan threat­ens new in­cur­sion into north­ern Syria

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has sug­gested that Turkey could soon launch a new in­cur­sion across the bor­der into north­ern Syria.

Er­do­gan’s ad­dress to a mil­i­tary cer­e­mony hon­or­ing Turk­ish com­mando sol­diers on Fri­day re­newed his threat to ex­pand Turkey’s mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions into ar­eas east of the Euphrates River held by U.S.-backed Kur­dish mil­i­tants.

“God will­ing, very soon...we will leave the ter­ror nests east of the Euphrates in dis­ar­ray,” Er­do­gan said.

Turkey in­vaded Syria in 2016 and 2018, oc­cu­py­ing ar­eas west of the Euphrates. The coun­try as­so­ciates Kur­dish mil­i­tants with anti-Ankara sep­a­ratists, who have been fight­ing a deadly decades-long war against the coun­try.

It has locked horns on sev­eral oc­ca­sions with the U.S., which has been gen­er­ously arm­ing and train­ing the mil­i­tants un­der the pre­text of fight­ing Daesh ter­ror­ists who have been driven out of much of the ter­ri­to­ries un­der their con­trol in Syria.

Most re­cently, Turkey de­ployed forces to Idlib Prov­ince in the Euphrates River’s western side as part of a joint op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia to cre­ate a buf­fer zone.

Syria re­gards the pres­ence of Turk­ish troops as il­le­gal and wants them to leave its ter­ri­to­ries.

Ankara’s agree­ment with Rus­sia fore­stalled an im­mi­nent of­fen­sive to lib­er­ate Idlib where sev­eral Turk­ish-backed mil­i­tant groups are based. Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad said ear­lier this month that the Rus­sian-Turk­ish deal to avert a mil­i­tary of­fen­sive in Idlib is a “tem­po­rary one” that pre­vented blood­shed but that his govern­ment’s goal is to re­store con­trol over all of Syria.

Turkey and Rus­sia have voiced alarm at US mass­ing of heavy weapons in sup­port of Kur­dish mil­i­tants on the east­ern site of the Euphrates.

Er­do­gan said re­cently that “the big­gest threat to Syria’s fu­ture lies in the nests of ter­ror to the east of the Euphrates,” cit­ing the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) and the Demo­cratic Union Party (PYD) which are sup­ported by the US.

Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov said last month that “the main dan­ger to Syria’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity orig­i­nates from the east­ern bank of the Euphrates, where in­de­pen­dent and au­ton­o­mous struc­tures are cre­ated un­der the di­rect con­trol of the United States.”

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