Turkey increases anti-Syrian Kurdish rhetoric since Sochi deal

Turkey increases anti-Syrian Kurdish rhetoric since Sochi deal

After successive warnings to launch a military offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, Turkey prepares a new push against Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in east of Euphrates River.

"We have completed our preparations, plans, programs regarding this issue," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his lawmakers in the parliament on Tuesday.

The Turkish president confirmed media reports that the Turkish Armed Forces fired artillery shells at YPG positions east of the Euphrates in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday.

"In fact, in the past few days, we have begun real interventions against the organization," he said adding that Turkey will soon launch "more effective operations."

Anadolu Agency reported Sunday that Turkish howitzers hit YPG targets in Zor Magar region along the Turkish-Syrian border line in the west of Ayn Al Arab district.

The attack had nothing to do with political agenda of Turkey, a security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, saying that the Turkish military previously targeted YPG position in the east of Euphrates on similar cases.

The shelling of Syrian Kurdish positions on the Euphrates' eastern shore came just two days after Erdogan gave his "final warning" to the YPG to retreat and accused the United States of dragging its feet in an agreement to remove the group from Turkish border.

Speaking after a four-way Syria summit in Istanbul with leaders of France, Germany and Russia on Saturday, Turkish president said Turkey would continue to eliminate the threats "at its sources in the east of Euphrates as it does in its West."

One of the factors of Turkey's increasing rhetoric for a new attack on U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria is delay in Manbij roadmap, according to Hasan Unal from International Relations Department of Maltepe University.

"Turkey is disappointed with Washington as the U.S. is still arming the YPG," he said.

Elaborating on timing of a possible military operation, Unal said it is unlikely that Turkey will soon expand a military assault against Kurds since Ankara has to lay diplomatic and political grounds for an incursion first.

The YPG has been local ally of the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Ankara, however, considers the group as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and says the YPG's presence on Turkey's long border with Syria poses a national security threat.

Ankara also fears that territorial gains of Syrian Kurds will embolden the aspirations of its own Kurdish population to form an independent state in southeast Turkey.

Turkish army launched two massive operations in northern Syria in the past two years to push YPG out of the area in west of the Euphrates but had to stop at the river to avoid a confrontation with the U.S. soldiers there.

U.S. support for the Syrian Kurds has been one of many points of contention straining ties between two NATO allies in recent years.

In a bid to calm down tensions, the U.S. and Turkey in June agreed to work together in Manbij, west of the Euphrates, for retreat of the YPG members after Ankara repeatedly threatened to attack the city. Manbij is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group dominated by the YPG.

However, Ankara has long been complaining that Washington is delaying the implementation of the deal. Erdogan on Tuesday said the United States turned the Manbij deal between Ankara and Washington into a tool to stall Turkey.

Unal draws attention to the timing of Ankara's increasing discourse against the Syrian Kurds since a deal between Turkey and Russia on rebel stronghold, Idlib, was sealed in Sochi last month which aims demilitarization of the front lines between government and opposition forces in the province.

"Turkey's statements with regards to Syrian issue are focused on east of Euphrates since a Sochi deal with Russia," the expert said arguing that Ankara and Moscow most likely discussed the issue of Syrian Kurds on the sidelines of Sochi meeting.

Unal noted that since then Russian officials have also brought the issue to the agenda of their statements.

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