Turkey to begin Syria operation east of Euphrates
December 13, 2018 -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to launch a new offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, a move likely to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.
In recent months, Turkey has shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and has threatened to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
The YPG is the main component of a Kurdish-led militia in Syria that rolled back the so-called Islamic State group with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. Ankara views YPG fighters as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. U.S. troops are deployed with the Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, in part to prevent clashes with Turkey.
Erdogan’s threat follows U.S. moves to set up observation posts in northern Syria, despite Turkish objections. Turkey says the observation posts are aimed at protecting the YPG, while the U.S. says the posts were established to address Turkey’s security concerns.