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Turkiye’s Erdogan hints at new Syria operation ‘when the time is right’

May 9, 2024 at 4:47 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Izmir, Turkiye on March 10, 2024. [Mahmut Serdar Alakuş – Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has indicated that the country could soon launch another military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, amid Ankara’s ongoing efforts to counter them in the region with the help of local states.

Following a government meeting this week, President Erdogan stated in a speech that Turkiye “will complete its work in Syria when the time is right”, and that it will finish the operations it began which were “left incomplete due to the promises made and broken by our allies”.

The allies he referred to likely meant the United States and other Western nations supporting Kurdish militants allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria, and their “promises” refer to the past guarantees by Washington – in numerous truces – that the militias will withdraw from certain areas and the border regions, as a whole, under US pressure.

“As long as the PKK finds a living space in Iraq and Syria, it is impossible for us to feel safe,” Erdogan stressed, reiterating the need to clear the region – and particularly Turkiye’s borders with Iraq and Syria – of groups such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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Throughout the past decade, Turkiye has launched three major military options against the Kurdish separatist groups in Syria, and has been threatening to launch a new one over the past few years.

Despite having refrained from carrying out another full-scale operation against the militias, the Turkish armed forces have conducted numerous air campaigns on their sites, facilities and hideouts throughout north-east Syria and northern Iraq in recent years, as well as covert intelligence and assassination missions against high-ranking members.

Ankara has also notably managed to secure cooperation and support for its crackdown from the Iraqi government and the autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, with Baghdad having banned the PKK two months ago and discussed measures to combat the group’s elements within the country’s territory.