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News analysis: Will Türkiye launch a new ground offensive in northern Syria?

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 Despite warnings from Russia and the United States T rkiye appears determined to follow through on its threat to launch a new ground offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants it accused of carrying out a deadly explosion in Istanbul experts have said In a parliamentary speech on Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country s determination to secure its border with Syria and establish a security corridor was stronger than ever We continue with the air operation and we will attack the terrorists from the ground at the most convenient time for us he warned In retaliation for a November 13 bomb attack that killed six people and injured dozens of passersby on Istiklal Avenue one of Istanbul s busiest tourist areas Turkish F 16 fighter jets struck suspected Kurdish militant targets in the northern Syria and Iraq Ankara has blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK blacklisted as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States as well as its alleged Syrian affiliates the People s Protection Units YPG for the attack Both groups have reportedly denied responsibility According to Oytun Orhan coordinator of Levant Studies at Ankara s Center for Strategic Middle East Studies Ankara s patience with Kurdish militants in Syria has been running thin since this summer when it warned of a new offensive A new ground offensive is being planned in areas of the Syrian Turkish border for months since June and such an operation may happen soon he said T rkiye is convinced that Kurdish militants are responsible for the Istanbul explosion and wants to punish them for this deadly attack T rkiye takes the attack very seriously Orhan added The Turkish army has launched four large scale operations in northern Syria since 2016 The most recent operation was launched in 2020 Meanwhile important international players in the area have called for moderation Russia a military ally of the Syrian government warned T rkiye that a large scale ground offensive could trigger an escalation of violence The United States T rkiye s NATO ally also warned that an escalation could undermine the fight against Islamic State IS in Syria The YPG considered by Ankara to be a terrorist organization is Washington s main Syrian ally in defeating IS Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over their differences over the Syrian crisis Soner Cagaptay director of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said this time Washington may be more lenient on a Turkish ground operation The US will go easy on a Turkish incursion into Syria until Ankara ratifies NATO s Nordic expansion which will happen in the spring and just before the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections he said Sweden and Finland were invited to join NATO after Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine All member nations of the military alliance have ratified the requests of the two Nordic countries except for T rkiye and Hungary Ankara has complained that the two countries made slow progress in meeting their commitments over Turkey s security concerns which are the deportation and extradition of members and associates of the PKK and the Gulen Movement both of which are considered terrorist organizations by T rkiye With the United States on board once Ankara aligns with Russia a Turkish incursion into Syria is likely Cagaptay said Moscow could give its consent in the coming weeks to a new Turkish offensive if Erdogan seriously seeks a reconciliation with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al Assad to end the war in Syria it added Xinhua
News analysis: Will Türkiye launch a new ground offensive in northern Syria?

United States

Despite warnings from Russia and the United States, Türkiye appears determined to follow through on its threat to launch a new ground offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants it accused of carrying out a deadly explosion in Istanbul, experts have said. .

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In a parliamentary speech on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s determination to secure its border with Syria and establish a security corridor was “stronger than ever.”

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“We continue with the air operation and we will attack the terrorists from the ground at the most convenient time for us,” he warned.

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In retaliation for a November 13 bomb attack that killed six people and injured dozens of passersby on Istiklal Avenue, one of Istanbul’s busiest tourist areas, Turkish F-16 fighter jets struck suspected Kurdish militant targets in the northern Syria and Iraq.

Ankara has blamed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, as well as its alleged Syrian affiliates, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), for the attack.

Both groups have reportedly denied responsibility.

According to Oytun Orhan, coordinator of Levant Studies at Ankara’s Center for Strategic Middle East Studies, Ankara’s patience with Kurdish militants in Syria has been running thin since this summer when it warned of a new offensive.

“A new ground offensive is being planned in areas of the Syrian-Turkish border for months since June, and such an operation may happen soon,” he said.

“Türkiye is convinced that Kurdish militants are responsible for the Istanbul explosion and wants to punish them for this deadly attack. Türkiye takes the attack very seriously,” Orhan added.

The Turkish army has launched four large-scale operations in northern Syria since 2016. The most recent operation was launched in 2020.

Meanwhile, important international players in the area have called for moderation.

Russia, a military ally of the Syrian government, warned Türkiye that a large-scale ground offensive could trigger an escalation of violence.

The United States, Türkiye’s NATO ally, also warned that an escalation could undermine the fight against Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The YPG, considered by Ankara to be a terrorist organization, is Washington‘s main Syrian ally in defeating IS.

Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over their differences over the Syrian crisis.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkey Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said this time Washington may be more lenient on a Turkish ground operation.

“The US will go easy on a Turkish incursion into Syria until Ankara ratifies NATO’s Nordic expansion, which will happen in the spring and just before the Turkish (presidential and parliamentary) elections,” he said.

Sweden and Finland were invited to join NATO after Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine. All member nations of the military alliance have ratified the requests of the two Nordic countries, except for Türkiye and Hungary.

Ankara has complained that the two countries made slow progress in meeting their commitments over Turkey’s security concerns, which are the deportation and extradition of members and associates of the PKK and the Gulen Movement, both of which are considered terrorist organizations by Türkiye.

“With the United States on board, once Ankara aligns with Russia, a Turkish incursion into Syria is likely,” Cagaptay said.

Moscow could give its consent in the coming weeks to a new Turkish offensive if Erdogan seriously seeks a reconciliation with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad to end the war in Syria, it added. ■

(Xinhua)

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