Erdoğan threatens new Syria offensive over presence of Kurdish forces

Article originally published by Ahval News on 03 October 2020 – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said that Ankara was ready to launch another military operation to clear northern Syria from Kurdish militia.

The Turkish president pointed to the existence of what he called terrorist zones in neighbouring Syria, saying unless they are cleared, Turkey would take on the task itself.

“When we destroyed the terrorist corridor that was being built along our borders, we showed that our Syrian brothers were not alone,” state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying at an event in the southern Hatay province via video link.

“The terrorist zones that still exist in Syria must either be cleared as promised, or we will come and do it ourselves,” he added.

Turkey has launched three military offensives into neighbouring Syria since 2016 – Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018, and Peace Spring in 2019 – targeting Kurdish forces Ankara sees as a threat due to their alleged links to an insurgency on Turkish soil.

Erdoğan also stressed that Ankara would never accept any actions that may lead to another human tragedy in Syria’s Idlib region.

After an escalation of fighting in early 2020, Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Syria, agreed to a ceasefire in Idlib on March 6. Around 60 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian-government offensive on Idlib in February and March, and the conflict displaced around a million people.