EU’s head of diplomacy Federica Mogherini asked Turkey to refrain from any unilateral military action in Syria where Ankara has threatened another offensive against a Kurdish militia. Mrs. Mogherini also stressed that the EU was concerned by the threats, saying that “we share the goal of ending violence, defeating terrorism and promoting stability in Syria and the wider region. We expect the Turkish authorities therefore to refrain from any unilateral action likely to undermine the efforts of the Counter-Daesh Coalition or to risk further instability in Syria.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that his country would launch a new operation in Syria very soon to target the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey considers a terrorist group. Mr. Erdogan commented that Turkey was “determined to bring peace and security to areas east of the Euphrates” river in northern Syria. In the meantime, the White House warned that any unilateral action against YPG would be “unacceptable”. Such a move could be complicated by Ankara’s armies facing US troops deployed with YPG. While Ankara and Washington are NATO allies, their mutual relations have been complicated by Washington’s support for the Kurds, which Ankara doesn’t like to see.
Ms. Mogherini called Turkey “a critically important actor in this crisis and in the region”, and added that “as the fight against Daesh is entering its final stages, all parties must work towards the goal of ensuring its upcoming defeat”. YPG is a mainly Kurdish militia that was formed in 2004 and expanded rapidly in the Syrian Civil War. In 2015, YPG won a major battle over Daesh at the Siege of Kobani where the group began to receive aid and ground aid from the United States and other coalition nations. A few Western sources called the group the most effective force at fighting jihadists.