Turkey escalates military operations in northeastern Syria

Turkish warplanes targeting SDF sites in northern Syria - June 3, 2024 (Turkish Ministry of Defense/X)

Turkish warplanes targeting SDF sites in northern Syria - June 3, 2024 (Turkish Ministry of Defense/X)

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Turkish military escalation continues in areas of northeastern Syria controlled by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), while the latter is determined to proceed with its announced municipal elections starting on June 11th.

Hawar news agency, close to AANES, reported today, Tuesday, June 4th, that the Turkish army shelled villages belonging to the city of Manbij in eastern Aleppo governorate with heavy weapons, from its base in the village of Sheikh Nasser.

The damage caused by the shelling was not clear at the time of writing this news.

On Monday, the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) said that a Turkish drone targeted a car carrying its members in the city of Ayn al-Arab/Kobani, resulting in the injury of two of them.

Turkey has not commented on this latest shelling but stated on June 2nd that it “neutralized” 14 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria and Iraq, indicating that its operations are ongoing.

AANES condemned the Turkish attacks in consecutive statements, pointing out that they aim to target the elections being conducted in its controlled areas.

The latest statement was from the Executive Council of the Euphrates Region affiliated with AANES on Monday, where it stated that Turkey is attempting to “undermine security and stability in the region and spread fear among the residents to thwart the legal procedures of the municipal elections.”

The council added that it is determined to conduct the elections and called on the region’s residents to participate in the upcoming elections in a few days.

With the municipal elections in AANES-controlled areas approaching, voices criticizing the event have emerged, some going beyond mere criticism, as Turkey considered the elections a threat to its territorial integrity.

The United States (the main supporter of AANES) also commented on the elections, stating that the “crisis” conditions in Syria are not suitable for holding elections in northeastern Syria at the moment.

In a press briefing by Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department, on May 30th, it was stated that the United States maintains its position that any elections in Syria “must be free, fair, transparent, and inclusive.”

Additionally, the leader of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, called for a joint military operation between Turkey and the Syrian regime to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northeastern Syria, according to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. He also criticized the municipal elections, considering them a new phase leading to the division of Turkey.

On May 30th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey is closely monitoring the aggressive actions undertaken by the “terrorist organization” under the pretext of elections (referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces which Ankara considers an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

 

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