Conflict

North Syria cleared of ISIS & Kurdish militia

Syria

Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. (Reuters)

Turkey has swept ISIS militants and Kurdish YPG militia from an area of northern Syria, but Syrian Kurdish forces have still not met a Turkish demand to withdraw to the east of the Euphrates river, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria last week, saying it had a dual aim of driving away militants and ensuring Kurdish militia forces did not fill the void that was left by extending their control of territory along Turkey’s border.

Turkey is concerned that Syrian Kurdish militia fighters could embolden Kurdish militants waging an insurgency on its soil.

Turkish warplanes renewed air strikes on ISIS sites in northern Syria on Friday, CNN Turk reported, the latest attacks since Turkish-backed forces began the incursion on Aug. 24. Turkish officials have said Turkish-backed militia forces in recent days have struck westwards, in militants areas.

Erdogan told a news conference early on Friday that the operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” had been successful in clearing ISIS and Kurdish YPG from a 400-sq-km (150-square mile) area.

But he dismissed claims that the Kurdish YPG, which Ankara calls a terrorist group, had withdrawn to a Kurdish-controlled canton to the east of the Euphrates River. The YPG says it has done so and US officials agree that is mostly the case.

The outlawed Kurdish militant PKK has squandered the opportunity for a political peace process with Turkey by continuing its insurgency against Ankara, Turkey’s prime minister said on Friday.

The autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has launched a spate of attacks since a ceasefire broke down last year, returning to arms in its three-decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.

‘Squandering for peace’
The outlawed Kurdish militant PKK has squandered the opportunity for a political peace process with Turkey by continuing its insurgency against Ankara, Turkey’s prime minister said on Friday.

The autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has launched a spate of attacks since a ceasefire broke down last year, returning to arms in its three-decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a televised briefing with ministers that security forces had contained the threat from Kurdish militants in urban areas of the southeast and were still pursuing them in rural regions.

He said the government has spent 10 billion lira ($3.4 billion) on the fighting the militants, without giving a time frame. He also said any mayors found backing militants would be removed.

Image: Reuters

Article: Al Arabiya