President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled Monday that Turkey was preparing to launch a new military operation in Syria, where its forces are under attack from Kurdish militants backed by the United States.
Erdogan’s comments followed a car bombing on Monday in the northern Syrian city of Afrin that killed six people, including at least one Turkey-backed rebel fighter, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“We have no patience left in some areas that are a source of terror attacks aimed at our country from Syria,” Erdogan said after chairing a cabinet meeting attended by top ministers.
“We are determined to eliminate the threats emanating from Syria with our own means,” he said in televised comments. “We will take the necessary steps in Syria as soon as possible.”
Turkey and its proxies have seized control of territory inside Syria over several military operations launched since 2016 against the Islamic State group and the Kurdish YPG militia.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants who have been waging a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
But Washington has partnered with the YPG to fight IS in Syria, brushing off angry criticism from Turkey.
The YPG remains a sore point in Erdogan’s uneasy relations with US President Joe Biden.
Turkish forces and their local proxies seized Afrin after pushing the Syrian Kurdish forces out in March 2018.
The conflict in Syria has killed nearly 500,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations.