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Turkey Signals Major Military Operation in Syria After Missile Strike

Erdogan hints a major military offensive in Syria against Kurdish militants after border towns were hit by missile and mortar attacks causing three deaths and dozens of injuries over the weekend and on Monday.

Following another deadly missile attack in southern Turkey from Kurdish militants based in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish Air Force strikes in Syria might be supported by land forces.

“This [military operation will] not [be] limited to an air campaign. How much of a force from the Land Forces should be involved here; our relevant units, our Ministry of Defence and our General Staff will decide together; We do our consultations and then we take our steps accordingly,” Erdogan said on his way back to Turkey from Qatar after he attended the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

President Erdogan’s signal of a major military operation including land forces came after Kurdish militants in the Syrian Democratic Forces, YPG organised another missile strike on Gaziantep in southern Turkey.

“According to the first information, three of our citizens lost their lives including a citizen, a teacher and a children due to mortar fire that hit a residential area,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in parliament.

According to Gaziantep Provincial Governor’s Office, five missiles including mortar fire were fired from Syria by YPG militants.

The YPG was the main military force that fought Islamic State, IS, in northern Syria and was supported by the US and other Western countries, but Turkey says it is just a Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK.

Both the YPG and the PKK denied involvement, but the Turkish government alleged that the outlawed PKK and the YPG were behind the Istanbul bomb attack which killed six people and injured dozens on November 13.

In response, the Turkish Air Force hit positions of the PKK and the YPG in northern Syria and northern Iraq over the weekend and killed dozens of Kurdish militants.

The YPG retaliated with missile strikes and mortar fires targeting Turkish military positions, border gates and civilian and residential areas in southern Turkey.

On Sunday, seven people including a soldier were injured at the Oncupinar border point in Kilis province and, in another attack, four missiles hit uncultivated land.

Kurdish groups in Syria, Iraq and Turkey called on Turkey to stop its air strikes.

“Air strikes of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] must end as soon as possible,” pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP said in a statement on Sunday. It claimed that the TSK targeted civilians.

Source: Balkan Insight