Turkey will take new steps in new year in order to eliminate terrorist threats posed from Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday.
Turkey has carried out a record number of operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2022 and has bolstered up the security of its border with northern Iraq using all available technology, the president said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.
Erdoğan added that Turkey in 2023 will continue this strategy aiming to eradicate terrorism at its source.
“Especially in order to totally eliminate the threats posed to our country from Syria, we will take new steps to close the gaps in our 30 kilometre deep security line. In that context, we will enter a new phase of struggle that will not only destroy the armed capacity of the terrorist organisation, but also all resources which it receives strength and support from, its infrastructure,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey has long sought plans to establish a 30-kilometre (19 miles) safe-zone in northern Syria along its southern border. As a result of military incursions carried out since 2016, the Turkish military and Ankara-backed Syrian rebels have been controlling areas west of the Euphrates river in Syria. The Turkish President said ‘security gaps to be closed’ referring to areas under Kurdish control in northeast Syria.
Turkey launched operation ‘Claw-Sword’ on 20 November against Kurdish bases in Syria, following a deadly blast in İstanbul earlier in the month. The operation until primarily utilized aerial strikes, while the Turkish government have repeatedly announced plans for a ground invasion into the same territory.
Turkey’s operations against Kurdish forces in northern Syria has triggered concern in Washington, as the military wing of the mainly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forms the backbone of a US-led coalition established to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
Ankara claims that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria is an extension of the PKK and blames its NATO ally for ignoring Turkey’s national security. Meanwhile, Turkey’s escalating strikes against Kurdish forces and plans for a ground invasion face Washington’s objections over worries that they might lead to the revival of ISIS.