Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian Kurdish fighters, on October 22, of yet another offensive if they don’t vacate northeastern Syria before the ceasefire deadline. Turkey had agreed to a five-day ceasefire, starting October 17, proposed by the United States. Erdogan said that around 800 Syrian Kurdish fighters have already left but 1,300 fighters are yet to vacate the region.
“If America does not keep to its promises, our offensive will continue from where it left off, with a much greater determination,” Erdogan said. “There is no place for them (Kurdish fighters) in Syria’s future. We hope that with Russia’s cooperation, we will rid the region of separatist terror,” he added.
Turkey’s Syrian incursion started after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from northeastern Syria, signalling a drastic change in America’s Middle East policy. The withdrawal of US troops from the region was considered as a green light from Trump Administration for Turkish incursion but Trump denied it. Syrian offensive by Turkey drew the attention of the world leaders and Erdogan’s actions were condemned.
India was among the countries who raised an objection to a unilateral military offensive by Turkey. “Turkey’s actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism. Its action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs. In the US, Democrats blamed Trump for the incursion and even some Republicans criticised the decision.
Later, Trump, under pressure, threatened Turkey of destroying its economy if they do not stop the offensive. Turkey and the US came to an agreement for a five-day ceasefire providing time to the Syrian Turkish fighters to vacate the region.
Trump is now contemplating to leave behind a small contingent of the troops, around 200, in eastern Syria to prevent any reversals of the gains made against the Islamic State.