Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 4 that the next stages of Operation Euphrates Shield would be broader and include territory in both Iraq and Syria, Anadolu Agency reported.
Speaking on television, Erdoğan said the recently concluded Operation Euphrates Shield incursion into northern Syria was only the first stage of Turkey’s military action in the region and that further as-yet unnamed stages would follow.
Future operations will have “a Syrian dimension, also an Iraqi dimension. There are the Tal Afar and Sinjar situations. We also have kin in Mosul,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said Iraq’s Sinjar region is about to become the “second Qandil” for the PKK, referring to the group’s headquarters in the Qandil mountains of Iraq.
When it was launched in August 2016, Turkish officials said Operation Euphrates Shield would eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border from Islamic State and the YPG. The offensive ended on March 29.
However, in a speech in Trabzon on April 3, Erdoğan said military actions would continue.
“The first phase of the Operation Euphrates Shield ended after Syria’s al-Bab was cleared of terrorists,” he said. “Now we are preparing for new operations against terrorist groups in other regions.”
“The new operations will have different names. We have new surprises for all terror groups including the PKK/PYD, the Daesh and the FETO who are looking forward to the spring.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 30 that Turkey would conduct a military operation against the PKK in Sinjar, Iraq.
“I’m not saying that we will only use military force if necessary, I’m saying that we will use military force, without question,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The following day, Çavuşoğlu said about the PKK: “Like we are fighting them in Qandil, we will continue in Sinjar where they are trying to form a second Qandil.”
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık on March 16 said Turkey was considering a joint ground operation in Sinjar, Iraq alongside Peshmerga forces controlled by KDP leader Masoud Barzani, President of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, to prevent Kurdish militants from maintaining a foothold in the area.
Işık’s remarks echoed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s October 2016 suggestion that Turkey will take military action if the PKK does not leave the area. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak reiterated in December that the Turkish military could act if the KRG does not force the PKK out of Sinjar.
Sinjar’s long-standing connection with both the PKK and the Syrian YPG, and – more importantly – control of its border with Syria, has made the region a complex geo-political problem.