Turkish President Erdogan threatens ground offensive in northern Syria

Erdogan said he had not spoken with either US President Joe Biden or Russian President Vladimir Putin about the operation.
Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria were being bombarded by Turkey-backed fighters on Monday. Ground operations will follow a wave of airstrikes in northern Syria and the mountainous regions of Iraq, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Fifty-nine people have been killed in Turkish strikes on Kurdish fighters in Syria, Ankara said, blaming the group for a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital earlier this month.
Six people were killed and more than 80 wounded in the bombing on Istiklal Street, a busy shopping area.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish armed faction supported by the United States in Syria, both denied responsibility for the assault.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on his return from Qatar, where he had attended the World Cup opening ceremony, that there was no question that the operation would be limited to airstrikes.
“We will make those who disturb us on our territory pay” he added.
Immediately de-escalate and focus on fighting ISIS, which is still present in parts of Syria, are things the United States demands tonight.
Washington has become increasingly vexed by Turkey’s military interventions in Syria, which have been backed by thousands of Turkish-trained, Islamist-dominated militias.
The US and several European countries have supported the SDF against ISIS since 2014.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 70 planes and drones penetrated 140 kilometers into northern Iraq and 20 kilometers into northern Syria to carry out the weekend strikes.
A ground offensive was becoming more urgent on Monday after Kurdish groups fired rockets at civilian targets in the Turkish border town of Karkamis, killing three, including a child.
The human rights group said at least 42 people were killed in the fighting, including unknown numbers of Syrian soldiers. There is concern that Turkish and Syrian forces might clash, as they did in 2018, after air strikes killed an unknown number of Syrian soldiers.
Turkey has occupied parts of several Syrian governorates since 2016 in an attempt to push back Kurdish militias, and Mr Erdogan has long emphasised the importance of controlling a strip of land along the country’s southern border.
Erdogan said that the Defence Ministry and chief of staff would decide jointly on the amount of force required by the ground forces.
Turkey said that Kurdish bases had been used to launch ‘terrorist’ attacks on Turkish soil.
Hundreds paid their respects to 11 victims who died in Al Malikiyah, a town in Syria’s far northeast, on Monday. A Kurdish news agency journalist was among those killed.
Shaaban, 58, said during the funerals that Turkey should stop its air and drone strikes on the group, which he said targeted him specifically.
State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the latest Turkish offensive, saying Washington urges “de-escalation in Syria to protect civilian lives and advance the shared goal of eradicating ISIS.”
Uncoordinated military action in Iraq that violates Iraq’s sovereignty, we continue to oppose, he said.
Despite the PKK being designated as a terrorist group by the US and Europe, Washington insists that its SDF allies have no connection to the group, which has carried out dozens of attacks in Turkish civilian areas. Turkey is outraged.
The German Foreign Ministry in Berlin called on Turkey to ‘react proportionately and respect international law,’ while ensuring ‘civilian protection at all times.’
Erdogan said he had not spoken with United States President Joe Biden or Russian President Vladimir Putin about the operation.


Image Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici