Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Erdoğan announces Turkey’s new strategy in Syria

Erdoğan accuses the US and Russia of not keeping their promises, and warns that Turkey will eliminate terrorist threats in northern Syria.

Turkey will now follow a new strategy in Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan assured this Friday after the increase in terrorist attacks on the Turkish-Syrian border by the YPG/PKK, accusing Russia and the United States of not complying with their commitments to Ankara and to encourage terrorism.

In statements made today to journalists from Istanbul, Erdoğan referred to the recent attacks carried out in northern Syria near the Turkish border by the YPG/PYD – the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, an organisation recognized as a terrorist group by the EU – which have targeted the Turkish security forces in the region.

“The PKK, YPG and PYD terrorists are out of control throughout Syria, not just in the northern area. Its main supporters are the International Coalition against Daesh and the United States. These groups commit terrorism using all kinds of weapons, ammunition and equipment that (the Coalition and the US) provide them,” said Erdoğan.

Ankara accuses the US and Russia of being responsible for terror attacks

These statements come just one day after Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar claimed that Turkey will do “everything necessary” to protect its rights and security against the YPG presence in northern Syria. On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also accused the US and Russia of being partly responsible for the recent attacks carried out by the YPG in northern Syria, insisting that Washington and Moscow have failed to comply with the agreements with Ankara.

In the latest attacks in the region, two police officers were killed on Sunday and two others were injured in the northern Syrian city of Azaz when YPG members launched from the Tal Rifaat region – nominally under the jurisdiction of Russian troops and the Assad regime, but de facto controlled by the YPG/PYD – a guided missile against the armored vehicle in which they were traveling. Likewise, several projectiles launched from northern Syria hit the Turkish province of Gaziantep, on the other side of the border.

In his statements to the press, Erdoğan stressed that Turkey has been very patient with the attacks carried out by the YPG in the region. “Our two policemen were recently martyred (killed in duty). Civilians are also attacked from time to time. Our fight (against terrorism) is going to continue, in a very different way”, stressed the Turkish leader, adding that “we are determined to do so”.

The Turkish army has already conducted 4 ground operations in Syria

To date, Turkey has carried out 4 large cross-border operations in northern Syria against the presence of terrorist groups – including the YPG but also Daesh – that threatened the security of its border, creating a strip along northern Syria which is under the control of the Turkish army and allied Syrian forces. Azaz is one of the cities in northern Syria that was liberated after Operation Euphrates Shield, launched in 2017 to expel Daesh from the region.

Following the recent attacks, Turkey may be thinking of launching a new military operation in northern Syria, and Erdoğan’s announcement of a new strategy in Syria, or statements made on Monday in which the Turkish president insisted that Ankara was determined to eliminate any threat in northern Syria and that the deaths of the two policemen had been “the last straw“, seem to clearly point to another ground intervention by the Turkish army on the other side of the border.