Erdogan:Turkey will launch ground offensive into Syria when convenient
Turkish military forces will launch a ground operation into Northern Syria at a “convenient” time, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“Our aerial operations are just the beginning,” Erdogan told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in a parliamentary speech on Wednesday.
“We are determined to secure our southern border via a corridor. We have formed a part of this corridor via the cross-border operations we carried out. We will also take care of places such as Tel Rifat, Manbij and Ayn El Arab [Kobani] one by one,” Erdogan said, describing these locations as the main sources of the problem.
Turkey on late Saturday has launched an aerial offensive into Northern Syria and Iraq targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in response to a bomb attack that rocked Istanbul, killing six people on Nov.13.
Accusing PKK and YPG over the attack, Ankara has been since conducting airstrikes targeting PKK and YPG bases in the region. So far, 471 targets have been shelled and 254 “terrorists” have been eliminated, according to Turkish Defence Ministry, while the local sources reports several civilian casualties.
PKK and YPG denied involvement.
“While we continue our air operations without interruption, we will mount the terrorists from land at the most convenient time for us. The day is close when those concrete tunnels will become their graves,” Erdogan said.
“We are conduction these operations with the sole aim of building a safe, peaceful and prosperous future for our own citizens and [Syrian and Iraqi] brothers,” he said, calling on Damascus and Baghdad administrations not to be disturbed of Ankara’s military actions.
“Our operations will also secure the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria,” he said.
Mazlum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which the YPG militia form the backbone of the group said he believes that the Istanbul bombing was an “Act of provocation that was conceived by the Turkish government in order to lay the ground for the war against them.”
“We did a lot of research and have concluded that the attack was perpetrated by Syrian opposition groups operating under Turkey’s control,” Abdi told Al-Monitor on Tuesday.
Abdi also said that Kobani would be the most likely target of a potential Turkish ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled areas.
Since 2016, Turkey has carried out three military operations into Northern Syria to combat Kurdish YPG militia.