Turkish army hits east of Euphrates in Syria

Turkish army hits east of Euphrates in Syria

Turkish army hits east of Euphrates in Syria

The Turkish Armed Forces on Oct. 28 hit YPG targets on the Turkish-Syrian border, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 28. 

Turkish howitzers hit YPG targets in Zor Magar region on the east of the Euphrates River of Syria, the agency reported. The region is in the west of the city of Kobane. The artillery shootings targeted the YPG positions in the region, according to the agency. 

The attack comes after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent warnings that Turkey would take necessary measures against the YPG in the east of the Euphrates as well.

Speaking after a four-way summit with the leaders of France, Germany and Russia on Oct. 2, Erdoğan said Turkey would continue to eliminate the threats “at its sources in the east of Euphrates as it does in its west.” The meeting in Istanbul was a first of its kind, which was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Syrian crisis. 

The president, speaking to a group of provincial leaders from his party on Oct. 26, had said he issued a “final warning” on Syria, stressing “we will eliminate the threat towards Turkey” and will not allow activities that endanger Turkey’s borders. 

The east of the Euphrates would be “cleared of terrorists,” he said, referring to the YPG, which Ankara sees as the Syrian branch of the illegal PKK. 

The area will be returned to its rightful owners, he also had said, adding that Turkey would focus its attention on YPG militants in the east of Euphrates River, rather than the Manbij area, which it is working on with the U.S. 

He said the U.S. turned the Manbij deal between Ankara and Washington into a tool to stall Turkey. The Manbij deal focuses on the withdrawal of the YPG from the city in Aleppo province in what Turkey says is a bid to stabilize the region. 

Erdoğan also said Turkey dissolved “a terror corridor” threatening its Syria border and any new formation would be “unacceptable.” “They [borders with Syria] are our red lines. It isn’t possible for us to allow this [formation of new terror corridor] there,” he added. 

Turkish and U.S. forces are currently training to conduct joint patrols in Manbij, but Turkish authorities have repeatedly accused their American counterparts for delaying the YPG’s withdrawal from the Syrian city. 

In June, Turkey and the United States endorsed a tentative deal to overcome months of dispute over Manbij. 

The Manbij Military Council is affiliated to the U.S.-backed and YPG-manned SDF in northern Syria. 

Turkey has launched two cross-border military campaigns along with Syrian rebels in the past two years. The first in August 2016, dubbed “Euphrates Shield,” was aimed at driving away ISIL and YPG forces from the border, and the second on Jan. 20, called “Olive Branch,” aimed to clear the YPG from the city of Afrin.