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Russian, US pressure mounts on Turkey over Syria threat

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International pressure mounted Tuesday on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to launch a threatened ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Ankara launched a series of air strikes in Operation Claw-Sword on Sunday — hitting dozens of Kurdish militant targets across Iraq and Syria — and announcing that its military was once again “on the top of the terrorists”. 

The Turkish leader has threatened a new military operation into northern Syria since May and upped those threats in the wake of this month’s bomb attack.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, denied any role in the November 13 bombing, which was the deadliest in five years after a spate of attacks in Turkey between 2015 and 2017.

“We urge de-escalation in Syria to protect civilian life and support the common goal of defeating ISIS,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement, referring to the fight against the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.

-‘Robust campaign’-

“Russia has for months… done everything possible to prevent any large-scale ground operation,” Lavrentyev added. 

“We tell all our interlocutors especially the United States that the PKK is equivalent to the YPG and we insistently demand that all support to the terrorists be stopped,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told lawmakers.

Erdogan has repeatedly called for a 30-kilometre (19-mile) “safe zone” to protect southern Turkey against cross-border attacks from Syrian territory.

Anthony Skinner, a Turkey expert and a political risk consultant, told AFP that conditions “are in place for a particularly robust campaign” against Kurdish militants ahead of Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in June.

“Erdogan effectively used the security and stability cards in the run up to the rerun of the general election in 2015. But his work is cut out now because of economic and socioeconomic pressures.”

Story Credit: news.com.au

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