Washington and Moscow called on Ankara for restraint on Tuesday, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated threats to launch a ground operation “soon” against the positions of Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening a new offensive in these territories since May. But the November 13 attack in Istanbul (six dead and 81 injured), attributed by Ankara to Kurdish fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and YPG (People’s Protection Units), risks accelerating operations .
“We flew over the terrorists for a few days with our aviation and our drones. God willing, we will soon eliminate them with our soldiers, our guns and our tanks,” the head of state said on Tuesday during a speech in the northeast of the country. Turkey’s air force on Sunday launched Operation Sword Claw, a series of airstrikes against 89 PKK and YPG positions in northern Iraq and Syria, which left nearly 40 dead in Syria. , according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).
On Tuesday, a new Turkish drone strike targeted a joint base of Kurdish forces and the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition in Syria, 25 kilometers north of the city of Hassakeh, a spokesman said. Kurdish to AFP. This new strike killed two Kurdish fighters, said the Kurdish forces and the OSDH.
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“We responded to this vicious attack which claimed the lives of six innocent people, including children, by razing the terrorist organizations in Iraq and northern Syria,” insisted the Turkish president on Tuesday. “We know who is arming, who is encouraging the terrorists,” he added. The Head of State had warned the day before that there was “no question of this operation being limited solely to an air operation” and mentioned “consultations” to decide on “the power which (should) be engaged by our ground forces. At the same time, rockets launched from Syria killed a child and a young teacher in Karkamis (southeast), a Turkish town located on the Syrian border. “We will make those who disturb us on our territory pay,” Erdogan warned.
The Turkish president’s statements worried Washington and Moscow, who called for restraint. Both countries are embroiled in the war in Syria, which has claimed almost half a million lives since 2011. “We call for de-escalation in Syria to protect civilians and support the common goal of defeating ISIS “, Pleaded Monday evening the spokesman of the American State Department Ned Price. “We continue to oppose any uncoordinated military action in Iraq that violates the sovereignty [du pays]“, he added in a press release.
“Risk of destabilization”
The United States supported the YPG, Syria’s main Kurdish militia, in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadists, allowing them to regain control of Kobani in 2015. Russia “hoped” that Turkey would exercise “restraint” and guard against “any excessive use of force” in Syria. “We understand Turkey’s concerns about its own security (…) But at the same time, we call on all parties to refrain from any initiative that could lead to a serious destabilization of the overall situation,” said the door. -spokesman of the Russian Presidency, Dmitry Peskov.
On Monday, Berlin and Paris had also called, respectively, on Ankara to act in a “proportionate” way and to “show more restraint”. In response, Turkey demanded on Tuesday that its allies, led by the United States, “stop all support” for YPG fighters whom it considers terrorists. “We affirm to all our interlocutors, the United States in particular, that the YPG are equivalent to the PKK [reconnu comme terroriste par la Turquie et ses alliés occidentaux, NDLR], and we forcefully demand of them that all support for terrorists cease,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar insisted on Tuesday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition dominated by the YPG, said on Tuesday that they were concentrating their efforts on “de-escalation”.
Between 2016 and 2019, Turkey carried out three major operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militias and organizations. Ankara repeats wanting to create a 30 km wide “security zone” along its southern border. “The conditions are met for a particularly vigorous offensive against the PKK / YPG, with the approach of the presidential and legislative elections” of June 2023, estimates Anthony Skinner, independent analyst who recalls that President Erdogan has already used the “security card” ahead of previous elections.