Turkey to carry out fresh Syria offensive despite naysayers, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated on Thursday Ankara’s plans for a military offensive into Syria, saying the operation would take place despite those who oppose it.

The Turkish president, in a speech at a ceremony in southeastern Bitlis province, vowed that his country would continue its "fight against terrorist organizations until we ensure there is a 30 kilometre security zone along our southern borders,’’ Gerçek Gündem news site reported.

In May, Erdoğan threatened to launch a new offensive targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in northern Syria, a militant group allied with the United States and other NATO partners in the war against Islamic State (ISIS).

The goal of the offensive would be the resumption of Turkish efforts to create a 30-kilometer (20 mile) safe zone along the country’s border with neighbouring Syria, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"We are aware of the hypocrisy of those who are wagging their fingers at us,’’ Erdoğan said, in an apparent reference to Russia and the United States, who have been vocal critics of the offensive.

"We absolutely do not take into consideration such insincere statements. We are going to continue carrying out these operations according to our country’s security plans,’’ he added. The new operation could take place “abruptly,’’ he said.

Since August 2016, Turkey has launched four military operations in northern Syria, where Russia, the Syrian regime and the United States also have troops, directed at ISIS and the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has fought for Kurdish autonomous rights in Turkey for almost four decades, and thus an existential threat.

The United States warned Turkey against an offensive, saying it would threaten regional stability and staunch Assad regime backer Russia has said that the planned operation could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in the war-torn country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday an escalation of military action in Syria would be “unacceptable,”  in comments addressing Turkey’s plans for a new offensive into the country, Reuters reported.

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