Authorities in Ankara are considering sending troops deep into Syria’s territories to prevent the Kurds there from forming their own state along the borders, following the recent gains made by Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria.
In a speech delivered last Friday, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyib Erdogan vowed his country won’t accept a Kurdish state along the frontier and that his government will fight in that respect “whatever the cost may be”.
The Kurdish fighters, supported by the US-led coalition airstrikes and smaller rebel groups, have recently expelled The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the bordering town of Tal Abyad and Ayn Issa to the north of the group’s de facto capital of Al-Raqqa.
Last Thursday, ISIS militants infiltrated the Kurdish stronghold of Ayn Arab (Kobani), massacring at least 200 people. It is claimed that the militants used the Turkish territories to carry out the offensive.
The daily Yani Safak, a mouthpiece of Turkey’s ruling AK Party, reported that up to 18,000 troops will be deployed in an area of 30 km deep and 100 km long, extending from near Ayn Arab (Kobani) to the rebel-held town of Mare to the west. The virtual ‘buffer zone’ will be secured with ground boots, artillery and air cover.
Turkey has been a staunch supporter of anti-Assad fighters since the war broke out in 2011. Ever since, Ankara has repeatedly asked UN’s Security Council for a military intervention in the war-torn country under the pretext of maintaining order along the borders and granting the refugees a secure access to Turkey.
For Turkey, a potential Kurdish state along its borders with Syria poses a direct threat to its already-shaken national security, thanks to the decades-long tense relations with its own Kurds.
The statement made by PYD leader, Saleh Muslim, that Syria’s have no intention whatsoever to form their own state, wasn’t enough to calm down Ankara’s fears.
During their latest push on Tal Abyad, Kurdish fighters were accused of ethnic cleansing against Turkmens and Arabs; accusation the western-backed militia entirely denies.