On May 6, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish Army is ready to launch a new cross-border military operation against the “terrorist organizations” after the early Parliament and Presidential election that will be held in Turkey on June 24.
“We will not give up on constricting terrorist organizations. In the new period, Turkey will add new ones to the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in order to clear its borders … We shattered the terror corridor being formed on our southern border with these operations. Our soldiers, who lastly wrote an epic in Afrin, are ready for new missions,” Erdogan said during a public speech in the city of Istanbul in which he revealed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) manifesto, according Reuters.
Turkey launched its first military operation in Syria, codenamed “Euphrates Shield,” in late 2016 and managed to capture large areas in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo from ISIS. Later, in early 2018 the Turkish Army launched its second military operation in the war torn country, codenamed “Olive Branch”, this time against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and successfully captured the strategic Afrin area.
Some analysts suggested that the next military operation of Turkey may be against the remaining fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. However, Syrian observers believe that the upcoming Turkish operation will likely be against the former branch of al-Qaeda – Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – in the Syrian province of Idlib.
The Turkish President vowed to clear the northern Syrian city of Manbij from the YPG on several occasions earlier this year. However, the deployment of the US-led coalition’s troops there forced Ankara to take a diplomatic path in order to solve the Manbij crisis.