Turkey “Uses” Finland and Sweden to Launch Military Operations in Syria

Turkey “Uses” Finland and Sweden to Launch Military Operations in Syria
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following a NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2022. (Reuters)

International Military - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would launch a military operation in Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has seized northern Syria in a bid to drive out Kurdish terrorist groups such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People's Protection Units (YPG). And on this occasion, Erdogan plans to connect the two regions that are currently under Turkish control.

This sparked fears of major fighting on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Turkish president announced that he would launch his military operation in Syria on May 26, or today. With the aim of gaining control of the 30-kilometer zone along the borders of Turkey and Syria. "We will soon take a new step regarding the incomplete part of the project we started in the 30km deep safe zone that we created along our southern border," Erdogan told Al-Jazeera news agency.

"As soon as our armed forces, intelligence and security forces finish their preparations, and this operation will begin," the Turkish president added. The areas targeted by their military operations are areas controlled by the SDF, the group that includes the YPG. These two organizations are Kurdish armed groups, the Jakarta Zone quoted Defense View as saying.

Turkey views both the SDF and the YPG as offshoots of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an outlawed group by Turkey. A group that Turkey considers a terrorist organization, it is known to have waged an armed insurgency against Turkey since 1984.

On one occasion when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was about to deploy his troops, he also strongly forbade Syria's allies to interfere. Erdoan stressed that Turkey has strong reasons to fight back. "The area is often the target of attacks, harassment and traps, this is a priority for our operations," the President said to Defense View.

Defense View also noted that experts assess that if this Turkish military operation actually takes place, it will create a threat to the Syrian city of Aleppo. Then it will also threaten a number of military facilities in northern Syria and even the port of Latakia.

Turkish troops are only 7 kilometers from the largest port in Syria and will fully control the entry and exit of ships there. Turkey's attacks on Kurdish terrorist organizations Turkey has launched three major incursions into northern Syria since 2016. They have taken control of territory along the border in an effort to secure its borders from threats from ISIL (ISIS) and the YPG.

In October 2021, Turkey vowed to eliminate the YPG from the region after the terrorist movement launched an attack in Azaz, northern Syria that killed two Turkish policemen. Turkey has also carried out operations against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) insurgents hiding in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

In April, Erdogan's forces launched Operation Claw Lock against the PKK. Turkey considers both the YPG and PKK as terrorist organizations that pose a major threat to its national security.

Turkey is taking advantage of the momentum

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's plan to launch a military operation into Syria cannot be separated from the debate over NATO membership in Finland and Sweden. The two countries, along with other European countries, imposed restrictions on the sale of military assets to Turkey following its attack on Syria in 2019, Reuters reports.

Turkey also accuses Finland and Sweden of harboring people linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). And that's what makes Turkey angry, Ankara assesses that NATO does not consider this Kurdish terrorist movement a big problem.

Reuters said analysts straightened out what Erdogan was planning was a belief that the West would not oppose the military operation. Because at the same time, Western allies or NATO need Turkey's support to help Finland and Sweden join into an alliance.

Asli Aydintasbas, Istanbul-based senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Erdogan's move was about testing NATO's "concern".

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