Erdogan Vows to Crush U.S.-backed Kurdish Fighters East of Euphrates in Syria

Syria's YPG Kurdish militia are the core of a force that has fought against Islamic State with the support of U.S. air power, arms, funds, training and an estimated 2,000 American special forces troops on the ground

Reuters
Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets people during the official inauguration of the Cologne Central Mosque in Cologne, Germany, September 29, 2018.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets people during the official inauguration of the Cologne Central Mosque in Cologne, Germany, September 29, 2018.Credit: \ HANDOUT/ REUTERS
Reuters
Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Tuesday to crush Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates river in Syria, announcing a major military operation against U.S. allies in an area where Washington supports them with troops on the ground.

Syria's YPG Kurdish militia are the core of a force that has fought against Islamic State with the support of U.S. air power, arms, funds, training and an estimated 2,000 American special forces troops on the ground.

Turkey, Washington's main Muslim ally within NATO, considers the YPG an enemy and has already intervened to sweep the fighters from territory west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years.

Previous campaigns halted at the banks of the river, in part to avoid direct confrontation with Washington. But Erdogan said Turkey was now prepared to press on.

"We will destroy the terror structure east of the Euphrates River. We have completed preparations and plans regarding this issue," Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party.

"We have started active intervention operations against the terror organisation in the last couple of days. We will soon come down hard on the terror organisation with more extensive and effective operations."

State-owned Anadolu news agency said on Sunday Turkish forces had already bombarded positions east of the river held by the YPG.

Turkey has been infuriated by U.S. support for the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than three decades.

Erdogan issued what he said was a "final warning" last week to those who would endanger Turkey's borders. He said then that Turkey would focus its attention on the east of the Euphrates, rather than the Manbij area just west of the river, where U.S. and Turkish forces agreed in June to carry out joint patrols.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

He's From a Small Village in the West Bank, One of Three at His School Who Went to College

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Prime Minister

Lake Kinneret. The high water level created lagoons at the northern end of the lake.

Lake Kinneret as You’ve Never Experienced It Before

An anti-abortion protester holds a cross in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court Leaves a Barely United States