Turkish military aims to control 10,000 km2 of Syria’s Afrin region

The Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy has cited the reasons for Turkey’s military operation against Syria’s northern Afrin province in a 12-article note. The note, titled “What Turkey aims to do with Afrin operation,” was posted on the office’s official Twitter account on Saturday.

The Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy has cited the following reasons for the operation:

  1. To ensure the Turkey-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA) takes control of a 10,000-square kilometer area.
  2. Following on from the Euphrates Shield Operation and the operation in Idlib, to completely prevent the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from reaching the Eastern Mediterranean.
  3. To eliminate the possibility of losing Turkey’s geographical contact with the Arab world.
  4. To ensure the security of Turkey’s borders with Syria.
  5. To prevent the infiltration of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the PKK into Turkey through the Amanos Mountains.
  6. To prevent a terrorist organization from opening to the Mediterranean and to the world from here.
  7. To ensure the security and continuation of the Euphrates Shield Operation area.
  8. To take control of the Tel Rifaat region and ensure the return of civilians to their homelands.
  9. To counter US support for a terrorist organization.

The office also added three articles stating “Why Afrin is important to Turkey,” cited as follows:

  1. Afrin is critical in maintaining the security of Turkey’s border provinces and ensuring the security of the Euphrates Shield Operation area.
  2. The presence of terrorist organizations in Afrin means that the whole of the southern Turkish province of Kilis and most of the Hatay province are within range of terrorist organisations.
  3. Turkey sees the merging of the Kobane area with Afrin as the most important pillar of the “Kurdish corridor” project.

Turkish ground forces advanced into northern Syria’s Afrin region on Sunday, Ankara said after launching artillery and air strikes on a US-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border. Thus, Turkey opened a new front in the nearly seven-year-old Syrian war on Saturday when, under what Ankara has called “Operation Olive Branch”, Turkish artillery and air strikes pounded YPG positions in Afrin.

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has carried out a deadly, three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. The United States is backing the YPG in Syria, seeing it as an effective partner in the fight against ISIL.

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