The Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has announced the completion of the Claw-Lock military operation into the Zap region on the Iraqi border, reported Sözcü daily.
Akar responded to press questions about Operation Claw-Lock, a possible ground offensive into northwest Syria, and trilateral negotiations with Syria in Moscow.
The latest series of Claw operations has been completed, confirmed Akar. The Claw-Lock operation has targeted Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) bases in the Zap region of Iraq since 2019.
“Around 2,000 mines have been demolished, and 200 shelters have been destroyed,” said the National Defence chief, adding that the operation was launched 200 kilometres deep inside Iraqi borders.
The People’s Defence Forces (HPG) on 25 December also reported that Turkey had withdrawn forces from the Iraqi border. The HPG (the military wing of the PKK) said that the Turkish government, “over 8 months lost more than 2,700 soldiers, committed numerous war crimes, but still could not get what they wanted.”
The end of the Claw-Lock operation comes amid trilateral negotiations between Ankara, Damascus and Moscow, as Syrian and Turkish officials aim to renew rapport broken since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.
Alongside these negotiations, Turkey aims to imminently launch a ground operation against Kurdish forces in North and East Syria.
The pro-government Turkish daily Sabah reported that Turkey has entered a new phase in its war strategy, and that there is a high probability that Syria’s Tall Rifat will be the next target.
“We are entering a new phase of our plan to form a 30-km (20-mile) deep safe zone along our southern border in Syria. We will clear Tall Rifat and Manbij of terrorists, and we will do the same to other regions step-by-step,” President Erdoğan said in June 2022.
Political analysts suspect that the northwestern Syrian city of Tall Rifat could be a testing ground for Turkish and Syrian military cooperation.