Turkish president threatens new push against Syrian Kurdish militants

Turkish AKP government has completed preparations for a new operation in northern Syria to "destroy" a US-backed Kurdish militant group President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said
Tuesday, 30 October 2018 19:57

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday Ankara has finalized plans for a "comprehensive and effective" operation that would target U.S.-backed Kurdish militant group in Syria east of the Euphrates River.

His remarks came days after the Turkish military shelled militant Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, positions and following repeated warnings to expand Ankara's operations to northeastern Syria.

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

"In fact, in the past few days, we have begun real interventions against the terror organisation," he said.

"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."

Turkish forces have already forced the Syrian Kurdish forces from west of the Euphrates in two cross-border operations, in 2016 and 2018. 

State-run Anadolu news agency said Turkish artillery strikes Sunday hit Kurdish trenches and positions on a hill in the village of Zor Moghar, in northern Aleppo province.

Washington and Ankara agreed over the summer to a deal that would effectively push the Kurdish militants out of a key northern Syrian town.

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.

Under the deal, American and Turkish troops would jointly patrol Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates. Turkey's defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said in comments carried by Anadolu that training has been completed and that patrols would begin imminently. After Manbij, Turkey's "point of work, field" would be the region east of the Euphrates, he said.