Turkey Army Chief: Syrian Offensive Will Continue

Insists Turkey Will Secure Entire Border, Rout Kurds and ISIS

by Jason Ditz, September 12, 2016

Speaking today in a statement to the state news agency, Turkey’s Army Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar insisted that there were no intentions of ending the military offensive in northern Syria any time soon, and that the operation would continue until the entire border was secured and “all terrorists” were routed.

That appears to be significant mission creep, as previously Turkey had insisted the invasion aimed to control a 91 km strip of border previously held by ISIS, and to chase the Kurds back across the Euphrates River. Turkey has repeatedly insisted they recognize no difference between ISIS and the Kurdish YPG.

Turkey’s entire border with Syria spans 822 km, and beyond that 91 km they’ve taken so far, it isn’t clear how much Turkey considers secure. The rest of the border includes the YPG controlled area east of the Euphrates, the Nusra Front territory in Idlib Province, and Syrian government territory along the west coast.

Gen. Akar’s comments didn’t detail Turkey’s intentions during the ceasefire, either, leaving that an open question. ISIS is not a party to the ceasefire, but the YPG is, and Turkey had previously endorsed the ceasefire, but has long insisted they don’t feel restricted in attacking the YPG anywhere.

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