On October 30, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey had finished preparations for a large-scale counter-terrorism operation in the area east of the Euphrates River in Syria, according to Anadolu Agency.
Erdogan vowed that Turkey will “achieve a victory over terrorists” referring to Kurdish armed groups (mostly the YPG and the PKK), which control the northeastern part of Syria.
On October 28, the Turkey Armed Forces (TAF) carried out a series of strikes on YPG/PKK positions near the village of Ayn al-Arab (also known as Kobani), which is located east of the Euphrates. After the strikes, the YPG released a statement on the strikes vowing to respond to Turkish attacks.
The YPG also claimed that it’s mostly focused on combating ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor and has carried out no attacks against territory of the “invader”. Nonetheless, the YPG did not note that its cells have repeatedly carried out attacks on forces of the TAF and Turkish-backed militant groups in the region of Afrin in northwestern Syria.
Ankara considers the YPG and other Kurdish armed groups, which are the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is a separatist militant group, which has a long history of rebellion against the Turkish state. In fact, it seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state within Turkish territory and, if it’s possible, to include northern Syria and northern Iraq in it.
The US support, including miltiary supplies, to the SDF and thus the YPG and the PKK is the source of the constant tensions between Washington and Ankara. The sides even reached a deal on the town of Manbij in the framework of which the YPG has to withdraw from the town and the local authorities has to be returned to the Manbij citizens [currently the town is controlled by the YPG-affilated body]. However, the US has sabotaged its side of the deal and has not allowed Turkish forces to enter the vicinity.