Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to clear his country’s Syrian border of “terrorists” up to Iraq, expanding a current operation. Such a move would further risk alienating Turkey’s allies, the US included.
Turkey could expand its offensive against the Afrin region in Syria to other cities in the northwest of the country in a bid to rid the area of a Syrian Kurdish militia Ankara views as a terrorist group, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
The move could aggravate already fraught tensions with some of Turkey’s allies, notably the United States, which has been backing the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in its fight against “Islamic State” extremists.
The current situation
– Turkey is carrying out an air and ground assault against Kurdish forces in Afrin dubbed “Operation Olive Branch.”
– Ankara says the operation is aimed at ridding the Turkish border to Syria of Kurdish militants it considers to be allied with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency in Turkey.
– The offensive has caused diplomatic tensions between NATO allies Turkey and the US, which has been supporting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria.
– If the offensive is expanded eastward to the city of Manbij, as threatened by Erdogan, it could endanger US soldiers positioned there alongside YPG fighters.