Turkish forces have been in northern Syria since August 2016
Turkish forces shelled positions of the Kurdish militia YPG, on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River in northeast Syria, on Sunday.
Two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised an expansion of Ankara’s conflict with Kurdish groups — “we will eliminate the threat towards Turkey” — and issued a “final warning”, the bombardment targeted the Zor Magar area.
Turkish media framed the assault as a prevention of “terrorist activities”. The Erdoğan Government considers the YPG part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has battled Ankara’s security forces for more than 30 years.
The YPG is the leading faction in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which have taken much of northern and eastern Syria from the Islamic State since the SDF’s creation in autumn 2015.
Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey would shift its attention from the city of Manbij, in Aleppo Province at the western edge of the Kurdish area of control, to the YPG east of the Euphrates.
Turkey and the US reached a tentative deal in June to oversee Manbij, taken from ISIS in summer 2016, but Erdoğan accused Washington of stalling on implementation with YPG withdrawal.
The Turkish President said borders with Syria “are our red lines” and “it isn’t possible for us to allow” YPG activities.