Erdogan: Turkey to launch new Syrian offensive 'within days'

Erdogan: Turkey to launch new Syrian offensive 'within days'
The Turkish Presidency has announced that a new military operation against Kurdish fighters in Syria will start within the next few days.
2 min read
12 December, 2018
Erdogan said the new operation will begin 'in a few days' [Getty]

Turkey's president says it will begin a new military operation against US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria "within a few days."

Addressing a defense industry meeting in Ankara on Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the target of the operation would be the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG - which Turkey views as a terrorist group linked to the insurgency within its borders.

The YPG is the main component of a Kurdish-led militia that rolled back the Islamic State group with the help of the US-led coalition. US troops are deployed with the Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, in part to prevent clashes with NATO ally Turkey.

Turkish forces have already waged two cross-border campaigns against Syrian Kurdish forces, in 2016 and earlier this year.

The Syrian war began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

At least tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.