Erdogan vows a ground attack on northern Syria… and the Kurds: they are ready
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday announced he would order a ground incursion into the Kurdish areas of northern Syria, while Russian chief negotiator Alexander Lavrentiev said Russia has urged Turkey to refrain from a full-scale ground offensive in Syria as such moves lead to it could escalate violence. Erdogan stated that the new military offensive, to be carried out “at a convenient time for us”, would target Tal Rifaat, Manbij and Ain al-Arab (Kobani) areas.
“The day is coming when the concrete tunnels terrorists use for their security will become their graves,” he said. Turkish forces have attacked 471 targets in northern Iraq and Syria since the start of their latest military offensive.
Yesterday, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “254 terrorists have been neutralized,” adding that “the operation continues through airstrikes and ground weapons.”
Akar did not address possible civilian casualties.
On the other hand, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria said they were ready to face a Turkish ground invasion.
Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces Mazloum Abdi told The Associated Press that they have been ready for the Turkish incursion since launching a ground offensive in the region in 2019, adding: “We believe we have reached a level , on which we can defeat any new attack. At least the Turks will no longer be able to occupy our territories and there will be a big battle.
He emphasized: “If Turkey attacks any region, the scope of the war will spread to all regions and harm everyone.”
He added: “We can say that our activities against (ISIS) have stopped with the international coalition because we are dealing with the Turkish attacks. Our coordination and cooperation with the Russians on the ground was also affected by the Turkish attacks.
Abdi denied that the SDF launched attacks on Turkish soil.
Mazloum urged Moscow and Damascus, as well as the Washington-led coalition in Syria fighting Syria’s Syrian Democratic Forces-allied ISIS, to take a tougher stance to prevent a Turkish ground invasion, warning that such an invasion could harm attempts to turn around to fight the return of ISIS.
Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentiev said Russia had urged Turkey to desist from the attack, and following a new round of Syrian talks with delegations from Turkey and Iran in Kazakhstan, Lavrentiev added: “We hope our talks will reach Ankara, and that there will be other means of resolving the crisis.”
He further said that the United States is pursuing a “destructive” approach in northeastern Syria and that resolving the Kurdish issue will be an important factor in achieving stability in the region.
He called the Kurds “hostages of the United States” and said that this hindered a solution to the crisis.
“Without the American presence, the Kurdish question could have been solved very quickly, I’m sure of it,” Lavrentiev said.
Russia, Turkey and Iran pledged in a joint statement after the talks to “oppose separatist plans aimed at undermining Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and threatening the national security of neighboring countries through things like cross-border attacks and incursions “.
Lavrentiev said the parties have discussed China’s participation in further talks in Astana as an observer, an idea that Iran has agreed to while Turkey is still considering.
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