Erdogan speaks of brooding operation in Syria

Erdogan speaks of brooding operation in Syria


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he was considering going beyond airstrikes and launching a ground operation in Syria after a deadly missile attack on a Turkish border town.

Erdogan also renewed warnings that those attacking Turkey will pay dearly, a day after Ankara’s forces launched airstrikes on bases of banned Kurdish groups in northern Syria and Iraq.

“There is no question that this operation will be limited to an air operation,” Erdogan told reporters upon returning to Turkey from Qatar, where he was attending the opening of the FIFA World Cup.

“The relevant authorities, our defense ministry and the chief of staff will decide together how much force should be used by our ground forces,” Erdogan said.

“We have already warned that we will make those who violate our territory pay,” he added.

Erdogan spoke after a missile attack from Syrian territory killed at least three people, including a child, in a Turkish border town.

That attack came a day after Turkey launched airstrikes on Kurdish militant groups’ bases in northern Syria and Iraq, which it says were being used to launch “terrorist” attacks on Turkish soil.

At least 31 people were killed in the night raids, which mainly targeted positions of Syrian Kurdish forces in north and north-east Syria, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were among those targeted, saying Turkey launched fresh airstrikes on Monday.

The Turkish raids, codenamed Operation Claw-Sword, came a week after an explosion in central Istanbul killed six and wounded 81.

– ’70 planes and drones’ –

Turkey blames the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for this attack.

The blast, the deadliest in five years, brought back grim memories of a nationwide wave of attacks between 2015 and 2017.

The PKK has been waging a bloody uprising there for decades and is described as a terrorist group by Ankara and its western allies.

But it has denied involvement in the Istanbul blast.

The attacks also targeted PKK bases in the mountainous regions of Kandil, Asos and Hakurk in northern Iraq, as well as Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) bases in the Ain al-Arab (called Kobane in Kurdish), Tal Rifaat, Jazira and Derik regions of Syria, he said the Ministry of Defense of Ankara.

Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group close to the PKK.

Erdogan said the consultations were ongoing due to the strength of Ankara’s military response, adding that the strikes over the weekend were carried out by “70 planes and drones” flying “140 kilometers (87 miles) into northern Iraq and 20 km invaded northern Syria”.

An SDF spokesman told AFP Turkish planes launched fresh attacks near Kobani on Monday, a claim confirmed by the SOHR. According to the SDF, a strike hit a position of the regime’s armed forces.

Since the morning’s rocket attack, there have been exchanges of artillery fire between Turkish forces, backed by Syrian proxies, and the SDF, according to an AFP correspondent.

Erdogan also announced that he had “not held any discussions with (US President Joe) Biden or (Russian President Vladimir) Putin on the subject of the operation.”

Turkey’s recent military push could create problems for its complex relationship with its Western allies — particularly the United States, which has relied mostly on Syrian Kurdish militias to fight IS jihadists.

Turkey has often accused Washington of supplying arms to Kurdish forces.

For its part, Russia supports pro-Damascus militias in the region.

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