Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again announced a military operation in Syria. Turkey is about to launch a military operation in Syria "both from the air and with ground forces," Erdoğan told party members in Ankara. He referred to his announcement on the majority of Kurdish-controlled area east of the river Euphrates in Syria, where the US and Turkey wanted to establish a so-called security zone. "We have made our preparations, completed our operational plans and given the necessary instructions," Erdoğan said. The mission could begin "today or tomorrow".
A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish militia YPG, announced vehement opposition to the plan. "We will not hesitate to turn every attack from the Turkish side into a full-scale war across the border to defend ourselves and our people," wrote Mustafa Bali on Twitter.
The Turkish president justified the planned offensive in the civil war country with Turkish security interests. The Turkish government wants to prevent a strengthening of the Kurds along their south-eastern border and a closed Kurdish territory in neighboring Syria and Iraq. According to Turkey, such a coherent area could promote Kurdish independence efforts in Turkey.
Erdoğan also said that Syrians who fled to Turkey in their homeland before the war should be allowed to return home. He had recently announced plans to relocate two million of the approximately 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey to the planned security zone in northern Syria.
#SDF is committed to the security mechanism framework and has taken necessary steps to maintain stability in the region. However, we do not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all out on the entire border to DEFEND ourselves and our people.- Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) 5 October 2019
Plans for security zone in northern Syria failed
The Turkish leader had repeatedly threatened with a possible use of the Turkish military. Since August, NATO allies Turkey and USA are monitoring the border area in northern Syria. However, a deadline set by Erdoğan until the end of September for the establishment of a security zone had come to an unsuccessful end. With the help of such a zone Kurdish fighters are to be kept away from the Turkish border. Erdoğan accuses the US of failing to implement plans for joint US-Turkish patrols in the border area.
Turkey regards the Kurdish militia YPG as a terrorist organization, while for the US the YPG is an ally in the fight against the terrorist militia IS in Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has repeatedly acted militarily against the YPG. In recent weeks, Erdoğan has strengthened the military posts on the border with Syria.
In Turkey, there is recurrent violence between the Turkish state and parts of the Kurdish minority. The southeast of the country is dominated by the Kurdish population. The Kurdish Workers' Party PKK has been fighting armed violence and attacks on autonomy in the region since 1984. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed. A ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government failed in the summer of 2015.