YPG targets residential area as Turkey vows northern Syria op

The Syrian wing of the PKK terrorist organization, the YPG, killed three people and wounded others in a rocket attack on a residential area in northern Syria on Wednesday.

According to local sources, who spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA), the YPG targeted the city center of Tal Abyad with seven shootings of multiple rocket launchers. The 12 wounded were immediately taken to the hospital.

The White Helmets Syrian civil defense group on the same day said that the YPG “targeted a car with heavy machine guns on the Al Muhsinli Halunji road in the Jarabulus area, the eastern countryside of Aleppo.”

The attack comes after Turkey has recently been increasingly calling on the international community to take action against the YPG and the PKK, warning about the threat it causes to both Turkey’s national security as well as locals living in opposition areas.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday had renewed vows to tackle the YPG in northern Syria.

“We are taking another step in establishing a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) security zone along our southern border. We will clean up Tal Rifaat and Manbij”, he said, referring to the two northern Syrian cities.

Erdoğan said they would then proceed, “step by step, into other regions.”

Erdoğan on Tuesday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a 2019 agreement signed between the two countries allowed for the creation of a security zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The terrorists often target Turkish forces who provide security in the Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring areas, and try to infiltrate the positions of Syrian opposition fighters from regions that the terrorist group was supposed to withdraw from under the agreements with the United States and Russia.

Meanwhile, citing instability concerns, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the US opposes Turkey’s possible military operation targeting the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

The top US diplomat told a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that “any escalation there in northern Syria is something that we would oppose,” underlining Washington’s support for “the maintenance of the current cease-fire lines.”

“The concern that we have is that any new offensive would undermine regional stability (and) provide malignant actors with opportunities to exploit instability,” Blinken said.

The US primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the US’ support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and that terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.

Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the US has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Turkey conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents – namely, Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019 .

59,679 housings complete

The signaling of a new operation comes amid increasingly hostile sentiment toward refugees in the country, fueled by some parties and political figures. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and other politicians had announced they would send back Syrian refugees if they win next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the debate on migrants living in Turkey is mainly fueled by the small far-right Victory Party (ZP).

Interior minister Süleyman Soylu on Wednesday during a campaign meeting of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) for 100,000 briquette houses in Idlib, said that so far 59,679 houses were complete.

Soylu further indicated that 503,350 Syrians have returned to their country since Operation Euphrates Shield. Criticizing the lack of support by western countries on establishing stability in Syria for the displaced, Soylu said: “The normalization of life in this region is vital for both our security and to end this humanitarian tragedy.”

“We step up gear in our campaign which started with the target of 20,000 briquette houses and within which 60,000 are now completed. As of today, under the instructions of our president, we take a step toward our target of 100,000 briquette houses.”

Currently, Turkey hosts nearly 3.8 million Syrian migrants, more than any other country in the world. The country also leads humanitarian aid efforts for Syrians in Turkey and opposition-controlled areas of northern Syria.

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