Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Ankara is ready to undertake a new military operation in northern Syria similar to Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched in August of last year.
Speaking to the Russian Izvestia newspaper, Erdoğan said Turkey’s borders are under threat by Syrian Kurdish militia and that Turkey would not allow the establishment of any Kurdish state in Syria, Sputnik reported.
“Presently, negative processes are under way in Syria. In the event they lead to a threat to our borders, we will respond in the same way as during Euphrates Shield. Turkey will not allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria and is ready to carry out another large-scale military campaign if needed,” he said.
In late March Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced that Turkey had successfully completed its Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria.
During the operation, Turkey and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces were involved in clashes that caused tension with the US, which considers the YPG a close ally in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while Turkey considers it a terrorist group due to its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish military: Turkey returns fire on YPG in northern Syria
Meanwhile, Turkish armed forces retaliated with artillery fire overnight and destroyed YPG targets after Kurdish militia opened fire on Turkish-backed forces in northern Syria, the Turkish military said on Wednesday.
According to a Hürriyet Daily News story, the army said YPG machine-gun fire targeted Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements in the Maranaz area south of the town of Azaz in northern Syria on Tuesday night.
“Fire support vehicles in the region were used to retaliate in kind against the harassing fire and the identified targets were destroyed/neutralized,” the military statement said.