Conflicts: Possible Syria mission – Erdogan names concrete goals


    Some NATO partners have suspended their arms deliveries in protest against Turkey’s offensive against the YPG in northern Syria. Turkish President Erdogan is now fleshing out his plans.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has set targets for a possible military operation in northern Syria.

    Turkey wants to start a “new phase” and “cleanse” the towns of Tall Rifat and Manbij from “terrorists” from the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, Erdogan said on Wednesday. After that, other regions should also be included “gradually”.

    Erdogan had already threatened a new Turkish military operation in the neighboring country last week, which could lead up to 30 kilometers into Syrian territory.

    Previous Turkish military operations in Syria were primarily directed against the YPG. The government in Ankara regards the militia as an offshoot of the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and also as a terrorist organization. The USA, on the other hand, sees the YPG as a partner in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) in the Syrian civil war.

    YPG wants to stop fighting IS

    The Kurdish militia announced that it would stop fighting IS in the event of a Turkish attack. The YPG then wants to direct its “military measures” against the Turkish invasion instead, as the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, which is led by Kurdish militias, told the German Press Agency.

    Turkey is currently blocking the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO because it accuses both countries of supporting the PKK and the YPG. “Anyone who hands over weapons and equipment that Turkey has withheld from Turkey free of charge to the terrorist organization deserves the title of a terrorist state, not a rule of law,” Erdogan said on Wednesday. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde meanwhile denied that her country had supplied Swedish anti-tank weapons to Kurds. Referring to a statement from the Swedish Agency for Strategic Products (ISP) that she circulated on Twitter, she wrote that Sweden had not granted export licenses for military equipment to Kurdish units.

    NATO partners such as Germany, but also other EU countries such as Sweden, partially stopped arms deliveries to the country in protest against an offensive by Turkey against the YPG in northern Syria in 2019. Turkey also wants to buy F-16 fighter jets from the USA – but a possible deal was recently politically controversial in Washington.