Turkey’s Erdogan vows to impose secure zones east of Euphrates in Syria

President Tayyip Erdogan has in the past warned of new military operations against the YPG along the Syrian border and if necessary into northern Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Turkey’s Erdogan vows to impose secure zones east of Euphrates in Syria

  • Earlier this year, Turkey carried out a military operation to seize control of Syria’s Afrin region from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • The YPG also controls the Syrian region east of the Euphrates
ISTANBUL: Turkey will take action east of the Euphrates river in Syria and impose secure zones as it has done in the northwest of the country, President Tayyip Erdogan said in comments broadcast on Turkish media on Monday.
Earlier this year, Turkey carried out a military operation to seize control of Syria’s Afrin region from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. The YPG also controls the Syrian region east of the Euphrates.
“God willing, in the period ahead we will increase the number of secure zones in Syria, encompassing the east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said in a speech during a visit to New York.
Before the Afrin operation, Turkey also carried out a cross-border operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield,” which targeted both the YPG and Daesh fighters east of Afrin.
After the completion of Euphrates Shield in early 2017, Turkey set up local systems of governance in the swathe of land under its control and protected by Turkish forces. It has done the same in Afrin.
Erdogan has in the past warned of new military operations against the YPG along the Syrian border and if necessary into northern Iraq.
Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory east of the Euphrates would risk confronting troops of NATO ally the US, that are deployed alongside a YPG-dominated force there.
The YPG has been Washington’s main ally against Daesh in Syria, infuriating Ankara which sees the Kurdish force as an extension of a militant group waging a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.
Erdogan’s comments come a week after he and Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced a deal under which Russian and Turkish troops will enforce a demilitarized zone in northwest Syria’s Idlib region.


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.