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A view shows the aftermath of airstrikes in Syria, which Turkey's defense ministry says it carried out
Turkey has already launched airstrikes, but is threatening to increase its operation with a ground offensiveImage: North Press Agency via REUTERS

Turkey's Erdogan says Syrian airstrikes just 'the beginning'

November 23, 2022

Ankara is on the verge of launching a full-scale ground offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But Russia is keen on finding "other ways of resolving the problem."


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday suggested the campaign of airstrikes in Syria involving planes, artillery and drones was just "the beginning."

Turkey launched the operation, which is also taking place in Iraq, as an initial response to a bombing that occurred in Istanbul earlier this month, which Ankara blames on Syrian militants. The Kurdish groups deny any responsibility.

"Our determination to secure all our southern border... with a safe zone is stronger today than ever before," Erdogan told lawmakers in parliament. "While we press ahead with air raids uninterrupted, we will crack down on terrorists also by land at the most convenient time for us."

Arrests made after Istanbul bombing

Moscow calls for calm

Also on Wednesday, Russia reiterated its stance, calling on Turkey to hold back on launching a full-scale ground offensive against militants in Syria.

"We hope our arguments will be heard in Ankara and other ways of resolving the problem will be found," senior Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev said after a fresh round of Syria talks with Turkish and Iranian delegations in Kazakhstan.

Lavrentyev also said the United States was guilty of plotting a "destructive" path in northeastern Syria, and that resolving the Kurdish issue would be an important factor in stabilizing the situation in the region.

The US has allied itself with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the YPG Kurdish militia, in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. Washington's alliances have not gone down well in Ankara, though.

Leaving 'Islamic State'

Russia and Turkey have already been in deep dialogue at various stages of this year, as Ankara seeks a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine, hosting a number of high-profile negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.

Kurdish-led SDF: 'We can foil' Turkey attack

Meanwhile, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeast of the country said his group is prepared to repel a ground invasion by Turkey.

SDF head Mazloum Abdi told the AP news agency that his group has been readying itself for another such attack since Turkey launched a ground assault in the region in 2019. "We believe that we have reached a level where we can foil any new attack. At least the Turks will not be able to occupy more of our areas and there will be a great battle.""If Turkey attacks any region, the war will spread to all regions...and everyone will be hurt by that," he added.

jsi/dj (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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