Erdogan set for land operation into Syria, Iraq, Turkish columnist says

Erdogan set for land operation into Syria, Iraq, Turkish columnist says
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Pro-government columnist Selvi said a land operation will follow the airstrikes, without giving a date for the campaign

Turkey is preparing for a land operation into Northern Syria and Iraq, following the aerial strikes launched at the weekend against Kurdish militants, pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi claimed.

A land operation will follow the air campaign, Selvi wrote for Hurriyet newspaper on Monday, citing an official without mentioning a name.

“But of course, the timing cannot be disclosed in such cases,” Selvi said.

Turkish military forces on late Saturday have launched an aerial campaign into Northern Syria and Northern Iraq, targeting the PKK and YPG bases in the region, in response to a bomb attack in Istanbul that killed six people last week.

Turkish Defense Ministry announced the operation by saying “the time of reckoning” in a written statement released on Sunday. In following statements on the same day, the ministry named the operation as the “Claw Sword,” saying that 89 targets were destroyed and many terrorists were “neutralized”. Turkish authorities use the term "neutralized" to imply the killing of the people they deem to be the members of the PKK. Turkey's attacks have reportedly left many people dead, including civilians, according to several local sources in the region.

Diken news website on Sunday also said that armored military vehicles started to be shipped to Syrian border from Turkey’s southwestern Mardin province.

On Nov.13, an explosion has killed six and wounded 81 people in Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, one of the busiest pedestrian centers of the city. Turkey accused Kurdish militants for the blast, detaining dozens, where PKK denied the involvement.

Since 2016, Turkey carried out several military operations into Northern Syria to combat Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a US-backed group that Ankara sees as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). PKK is an outlawed armed group in Turkey, fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil for almost four decades and designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The YPG is allied with the West in a fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), forming the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkish military forces also regularly conduct cross-border operations in Northern Iraq against Kurdish militants.

The governments of Damascus and Baghdad, as well as the Erbil administration (the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, KRI) oppose Turkey’s military operations in their soil, condemning the attacks as illegitimate.