Turkey ready to 'destroy' Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey ready to 'destroy' Kurdish militia in Syria
2 min read
30 October, 2018
Erdogan issued a 'final warning' to the YPG, who have worked closely with the US to defeat IS in Syria, but who Turkey insist are 'terrorists' that must be ousted.
Erdogan has doggedly tried to oust the YPG from Syria [Getty]

Turkey has prepared its military for a fresh operation in northern Syria to "destroy" the US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a terrorist group, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) holds territory east of the Euphrates River it reclaimed from the Islamic State, where Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a fresh offensive.

"We are going to destroy the terrorist structure in the east of the Euphrates. We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue," Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling party in parliament.

Erdogan appeared to indirectly confirm Turkish state media reports that the Turkish military fired artillery shells at YPG positions east of the Euphrates in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday. The YPG has held the area since 2015.

Read more: Sharing the costs of rebuilding Syria

"In fact, in the past few days, we have begun real interventions against the terror organisation," Erdogan said, without giving further details.

"We are going to breathe down the necks of the terror organisation with comprehensive and effective operations soon. As I have always said, we can come suddenly one night."

Erdogan has previously made similar threats and on Friday gave the YPG a "final warning".

While the YPG has worked closely with Washington against the Islamic State group in Syria, causing tension between NATO allies Turkey and the US, Ankara says the militia is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The YPG holds swathes of territory in northern and northeastern Syria. 

Earlier this year, Turkish military forces backed Syrian opposition fighters to retake the western Afrin region from the YPG during a two-month air and ground offensive.

Ankara previously launched an offensive between 2016 and 2017 against IS on its border with Syria and to stop areas under YPG control from joining.

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