Ankara: Turkey is preparing for a new military operation in northern Syria to establish a 30-km deep safe zone along its southern border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
“As soon as the Turkish armed forces complete its intelligence and security preparations, these operations will begin,” Erdogan said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.
The operation will target the regions in northern Syria where the Turkish military does not have control and are “centers of attacks to our country and our safe zones,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
Turkey’s forces and Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) members often exchange fire in the region and the clashes have accelerated since early this year.
The Turkish National Security Council will discuss the issue on Thursday, he said.
The Turkish army launched Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016, Operation Olive Branch in 2018, Operation Peace Spring in 2019, and Operation Spring Shield in 2020 in northern Syria, aiming to eliminate terror threats and provide a safe zone that will facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homes.
Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.