Since 2016, Turkey has seized northern Syria in an attempt to drive out Kurdish terrorists such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The Turkish President announced the start of a large-scale military operation in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Ankara intends to conduct a new military operation in Syria in order to connect two areas currently under Turkish control, prompting worries of further combat on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has officially announced that Ankara will launch a military operation in Syria on May 26 in order to gain control over a 30-kilometer zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. Probably, the closure of Turkish airspace for Russian military and civilian aircraft flying to Syria is connected with this fact.
"As soon as the Turkish Armed Forces, intelligence, and security forces completes their preparations, these operations will start. We will take our decisions on this issue at the NSC to be held on Thursday."
— Republic of Türkiye Directorate of Communications (@Communications) May 23, 2022
According to Recep Erdogan, the Turkish armed forces will launch a military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (a Kurdish military formation) to expand the 30-kilometer security zone in Syria. In fact, Turkey intends to gain control over a significant region. At the same time, Turkey strongly discourages Syrian allies from interfering in the situation, noting that Ankara has enough retaliatory leverage to counteract.
“Areas which are the main targets of frequent attacks, harassments and traps constitute our operations’ priorities,” he emphasised. “These operations will start as soon as our military, intelligence, and security units complete their preparations.”
Experts note that if we are really talking about expanding the zone to 30 kilometers, then this creates a threat to Syrian Aleppo, a number of military facilities in northern Syria, and even to the port of Latakia, since in this case, Turkish troops will be only 7 kilometers from the largest port in Syria and will be able to fully control the entry of any ships here.
However, in a separate agreement with the US and Russia in 2019, Turkey halted its military operations in northeast Syria in exchange for the withdrawal of YPG militants 30 kilometres south of its borders. Despite this, Kurdish militants have on several occasions targeted Turkish troops stationed in Rojava.
In October 2021, Turkey vowed to eliminate YPG from the region after the militia launched an attack in Azaz, northern Syria that killed two Turkish police officers.
Turkey has also conducted operations against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants holed up in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. In April, Turkey launched Operation Claw Lock against the PKK.
Turkey considers both the YPG and the PKK as terrorist organisations that are major threats to its national security and hence have defended its actions against the groups, despite international criticism over humanitarian concerns.
In response to Turkey the US State Department on Tuesday criticized Turkey’s plans to conduct a military operation in northern Syria after the Turkish president said he wanted to create a 20-mile “safe zone” along the southern border with Syria.
“We expect Turkey to live up to the October 2019 Joint Statement, including to halt offensive operations in northeast Syria,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing.