The Turkish president said Turkey is determined to eradicate a “terror corridor” in northern Syria, referring to territories controlled by a militia linked to Turkey’s domestic insurgent group, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Operation Euphrates Shield, launched by the Turkish military in late summer of 2016, will continue, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a meeting with members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday.
“It is time to block the separatist terror group from forming a terror corridor along Syria,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the president as saying.
“We will complete this process by securing all our borders,” he said, hinting a possible military endeavor against Afrin held by People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia.
Turkey has long harbored deep suspicion about the Kurdish aspirations for a statelet in northern Syria along its border. Syrian Kurds emerged as one of the winning sides of the Syrian conflict as they largely spared fighting with the Bashar al-Assad regime.
It appeared as a prodigious fighting force, a reliable partner for the U.S.-led international coalition in the fight against Islamic State on the ground. It’s potent military wing uprooted the extremist group from towns one by one in the north and expanded its sway over large swathes of territory.
The Kurdish factor has also strained Turkey’s relations with the U.S.