President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey’s air operations against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria were only the beginning and it will launch a land operation there when convenient.
He said Turkey was more determined than ever to secure its southern border with a “security corridor”, while ensuring the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq, where it has also been conducting operations against Kurdish militants. “We are continuing the air operation and will come down hard on the terrorists from land at the most convenient time for us,” Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party’s lawmakers in parliament.
“We have formed part of this corridor (and) will take care of it starting with places such as Tel Rifat, Manbij and Ain al-Arab (Kobani), which are the sources of trouble,” he added. Turkey has previously mounted major military operations in Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia, regarding it as a wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey, the United States and the European Union designate as a terrorist group.
Ankara launched the air operations at the weekend, saying they were retaliation for an Istanbul bomb attack a week earlier that killed six people, and which authorities blamed on the YPG. Nobody has claimed responsibility and the PKK and YPG have denied involvement.