ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday once again repeated his threat of invading the self-administered Kurdish region in northern Syria.
After tackling with a months-long 2015-2016 phase of urban warfare against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey’s Kurdish cities and the Kurdistan Region’s September independence referendum, Erdogan said it was now time “to crush” what he labeled as “the terror corridor” in neighboring Syria.
He said his army would complete “the Euphrates Shield Operation,” a 2016 military incursion into a pocket of land in Syria to block the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from making more territorial gains against the Islamic State (IS).
During an address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan said his next target was the isolated Kurdish canton of Afrin and then Manbij.
Afrin is surrounded from the north and west by Turkey and cut off from the other two self-declared Kurdish autonomous cantons of Kobani and Jazira by the Turkish-backed Islamist groups to its east and south in Idlib Province.
By invading Afrin, Ankara hopes to extinguish Kurdish self-rule in that area for good and further choke the de facto autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
Ankara alleges that Rojava’s armed force, the YPG, massively supported in weapons by Washington, is a national security threat to its territorial integrity on the grounds it is an offshoot of the PKK.
Objections by Russia whose air and ground forces back the Syrian regime and continued American presence at bases in Rojava have so far hindered Erdogan from carrying out his threats against the YPG.
American army and State Department officials have pledged to remain committed to their Kurdish-led allies, at least in military terms, even after a complete destruction of IS to sustain security and stability in the liberated regions.
So far, Washington has not declared an official stance in the case of the outbreak of a conflict between Syrian Kurds and its NATO ally Turkey.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany