air operation ‘just the beginning’ – Erdogan


The Turkish leader says Ankara is more determined than ever to secure its southern border

Türkiye’s air operations in northern Iraq and Syria are “just the beginning” and the country may soon launch a ground offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

Speaking to lawmakers from the ruling party in parliament, Erdogan said Türkiye is determined to do so “Close all our southern borders… with a security corridor that will prevent the possibility of attacks on our land.”

He said the ground raid will begin “at the most convenient time for us”, and will target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Mambij and Kobani, which he called “sources of trouble.”

Erdogan also assured the Iraqi and Syrian governments that the Ankara operation does not pose a challenge to their sovereignty or territorial integrity, and stressed that the purpose of the operation is to protect the security of Türkiye. If those countries “can not meet the requirements of the agreement, we have the right to take care of it ourselves”, he warned.

Retaliation along the Turkish-Syrian border has escalated in recent days, with Ankara launching a series of air and artillery strikes against targets linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG, which it considers terrorist organizations and responsible for the November 13 bombing in Istanbul, which killed six people and injured 81 others.

Russia has called on Türkiye to prevent escalating tensions in the region and to refrain from using it “excessive force” on Syrian territory. Moscow has also stated its readiness to work with all parties involved to find a peaceful solution to the “Kurdish issue.”

Washington, meanwhile, has recognized Türkiye’s right to defend itself, but has conceded that Ankara’s ‘Claw-Sword’ operation could provoke a reaction from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia, the bulk of which consists of Kurdish fighters. exists, and their ability to fight against Islamic State (formerly ISIS) terrorists.

Türkiye claims to have eliminated as many as 254 militants and hit 471 so far “terroristtargets in Syria and Iraq since the air operation began this weekend.

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