Erdogan Revisits Military Action in Syria Seeing Dual Threats


(Bloomberg) -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to go after “terrorists” in neighboring Syria, threatening to again send his military across the border only months after the U.S. and Russia convinced him to sharply scale back an earlier incursion targeting Kurdish fighters.

Kurdish militants are still a danger, despite U.S. promises to keep them away from Turkish territory, while Russia-backed Syrian regime forces are bombing the Idlib region, potentially propelling a fresh wave of migration toward Turkey, Erdogan told members of his ruling party in Ankara.

Erdogan’s unhappy with the implementation of separate deals he cut with Russia and the U.S. late last year to push the Kurds deeper into Syrian territory. Signs are also emerging that he’s ready to pressure Vladimir Putin, an increasingly important ally, to try to bring an end to the fighting in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria.

Recent bombing in Idlib has caused tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and seek shelter close to the Turkish frontier. Turkey is already home to more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, having taken in more people fleeing the country’s nine-year war than any other country.

Ankara considers the Kurdish YPG militia to be a threat over its links to separatist Kurds who have been fighting the Turkish state for decades. But the group has won strong international support, including in the U.S., for its leading role in dismantling Islamic State rule in Syria.

“Supporters of the Syria regime aim to prolong the crisis in Syria. Turkey wants stability and security of Syrians and we will not hesitate to do whatever necessary to provide that, including use of military power,” Erdogan said Friday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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