Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 9
By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:
The first military operation of the Turkish Armed Forces in neighboring Iraq began more than 30 years ago – on May 25, 1983. Then, under the agreements reached between Ankara and Baghdad, the Turkish Armed Forces began operations against the militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish paramilitary units, Peshmerga, in northern Iraq.
In 1983, the Turkish Armed Forces for the first time entered the Iraqi territory on a stretch of five kilometers. The Turkish Armed Forces conducted about 55 military operations in northern Iraq from 1983 to 2011.
The Armed Forces of Turkey killed more than 800 PKK members in northern Iraq during the operation held on October 13, 1997: this is considered the biggest figure for the entire period of military operations conducted outside of Turkey.
Following the July 15 military coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, the country’s Armed Forces, with the support of the Syrian opposition (Free Syrian Army), launched the Euphrates Shield operation against the IS militants and liberated the city of Jarabulus as well as the city of Al-Bab in northern Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in late March that the operation had been successfully completed.
Starting from September 2017, a new military campaign has been actively developing in the northern Syrian city of Idlib, with participation of the Free Syrian Army. The operation is to be conducted in the north of Syria.
However, it should be noted that unlike the Euphrates Shield, the new operation will not be easy for Turkey. The main problem stems from the fact that less than 250,000 civilians live in the region where the Euphrates Shield operation was carried out, while in Idlib the number of civilians exceeds two million people.
It should be noted that the main purpose of all these operations has been the elimination of danger on Turkey’s borders. At the same time it becomes clear that the new operation is extremely important not only for Turkey but also for Iraq itself and for neighboring Iran.
The fact is that currently, Idlib is under partial control of the Free Syrian Army as well as Jabhat al-Nusra and other radical armed groups.
At the same time, this city is important for the Kurdish terrorist organizations YPG and PYD that are armed by the US and do not hide their plans to take control of the city to create a "Kurdish state" in Syria.
In case Idlib falls under control of YPG and PYD, the Turkish-Syrian border, with the exception of Azaz city, will be under full control of Kurdish armed groups.
And this, in turn, will actually create conditions for establishment of a new "Kurdish state" in northern Syria, which certainly does not meet the interests of not only Turkey but also Iraq, which, after the recent referendum in the Kurdish autonomy, is on the verge of collapse.
The Kurdish territorial claims create a problem for Iran as well, which will sooner or later face ethnic separatism, the problem that external forces have been promoting in the region.
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency’s Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu