Türkiye’s air operation against PKK/YPG in Syria and Iraq

Türkiye’s air operation against PKK/YPG in Syria and Iraq

On the night of November 19, the Turkish Armed Forces conducted an intensive airstrike against PKK/YPG targets in Syria and Iraq following the terrorist attack carried out by the PKK/YPG on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on November 13, which claimed the lives of 6 people and wounded 81 others. “89 targets and 184 terrorists were neutralized,” Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said in a statement after the operation.

Doğu Perinçek, the Chairman of Vatan Party, held a press conference on the operation, which has been on the world agenda. We present a summary of the press conference.

Doğu Perinçek, the Chairman of Vatan Party, started the press conference with saluting Turkish Armed Forces and The Interior Ministry. “We salute the air operation of Turkish Armed Forced and the struggle of the Interior Ministry” said Perinçek, and continued as follows:

The air operation launched by the Turkish Armed Forces against PKK/PYD targets in the north of Syria and Iraq on the night of November 19, 2022 has strengthened the Turkish nation’s trust in our army and struck fear into the enemy. The operation is successfully continuing.

Our police and gendarmerie forces under the command of the Interior Ministry are also heroically fighting against separatist terrorism and achieving successes.

We condemn the US-directed propaganda of the defeatist group against our Army and the Ministry of Interior.

‘Time to defeat the terrorist organization definitively’

As the government acknowledges, Türkiye has entered a period of serious threats. The US bases on the Aegean coast of Greece, the military exercises conducted by the US, Israel and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, the plots and acts of terrorism on the domestic front give a sufficient insight into the scale of the threat.

On the other hand, our army, police and village guards have made significant achievements in the fight against separatist terrorism, and the US is facing a three-front war due to its war against Russia in Ukraine and its buildup in the Taiwan Strait against the People’s Republic of China.

Under these circumstances, it is time for Türkiye to eliminate PKK Terror Organization definitively both within our borders and outside. This should be the objective of the military operation.

The objective should be to completely destroy PKK/YPG as an organization with all its strength and capabilities, at homeland and beyond borders.

Conditions are favorable for that.

This is the time.

Decisive end comes with ground operation

Our Air Operation is dealing heavy blows to PKK/YPG. However, the decisive victory will only be achieved through a ground operation. Therefore, the strategic plan must be re-established.

For this, the AK Party government must abandon the “safe corridor” plan and implement the strategy to destroy PKK definitively.

All-out national mobilization against separatist terrorism

Destroying the PKK/YPG Terrorist Organization is not only the duty of the Turkish Army, Police and Village Guards. They are already successfully carrying out their duties.

Destroying a terrorist organization that is supported by US imperialism with allies on the domestic front requires a comprehensive national mobilization. Not only has this mobilization not been organized, but the terrorist organization has also been given opportunities for its activities for many years.

More importantly, there is no determined and consistent struggle against US imperialism.

Our policy is the following:

– HDP’s Closure Case should be concluded and terrorism must not have a “legal cover”;

– US bases should be taken under Turkish Army control;

– We must leave NATO.

Cooperation with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia immediately to eliminate terrorist organizations

The conditions are highly favorable. The states of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia are ready to cooperate in every field against separatist and Islam-hostile terrorist organizations under the banner of Islam.

Iraq, Iran and Russia are also fighting against US imperialism and terrorist organizations. We have common ground for joint struggle with these states and their armies.  Vatan Party has already developed its projects on this issue.

We also spoke with retired colonel Ihsan Sefa from the Turkish Armed Forces on the operation.

In statements made by the Turkish Armed Forces and other state officials, it was stated that the operation was a response to the terrorist attack in Taksim, Istanbul. On the other hand, such an operation has been talked about in the public for a long time. Can you evaluate these two together?

Both are true. Türkiye has been planning an operation in these regions since May. The airspace in this region belongs to Russia and there are US troops in the field. So it was imperative that such an operation be carried out in coordination and by informing these two countries. So far, the two countries had not been very receptive to such an operation. Russia demanded that Türkiye do this by reaching an agreement with Syria.

‘Türkiye was biding its time for the operation’

Türkiye was biding its time for the operation. The terrorist attack on Istiklal Street in Istanbul strengthened Türkiye’s hand in the eyes of the international community. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter gives countries the right to defend themselves in such situations like facing a terrorist attack. Türkiye informed both Russia and the US before the operation.

Turkish Armed Forces hit weapons depots supplied by the US to PKK/YPG

The US expected the operation like “Türkiye would hit a few targets that’s all”. But something happened that the US did not anticipate.  Turkish Armed Forces used Türkiye’s self-produced deep penetration bombs. The US was not aware that Türkiye had such bombs in its equipment. With these bombs, many PKK/YPG bunkers were destroyed. These bombs are capable of penetrating concrete up to 2 meters deep and exploding inside. PKK/YPG suffered great losses.

As soon as I saw the images from the operation, I understood that Turkish army had blown up the weapons depots that the US had provided to the PKK/YPG. Such huge explosions would mean that the weapons depots had been hit. Türkiye’s operation was both technically and tactically a raid.

Turkish Armed Forces used these bombs to penetrate deep into PKK/YPG caves by conducting the operation at night and tactically as a raid.

Turkish Armed Forces’ possible ground operation

“It is out of the question that this will be limited to an air operation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after the operation. Does that statement mean that a ground operation is imminent?

Yes, a ground operation is to be expected.

After the operation, PKK/YPG fired rockets from the border and hit Karkamış/Gaziantep in Türkiye, resulting in the deaths of two citizens. This means that the terrorist organization needs to be expelled from these areas.

This operation is not such a one to be completed with 50-60 sorties. Now that we are engaged in such an operation, let’s send all F-16s to do 200-300 sorties. Let’s hit all the targets. I think the operation could have been more comprehensive.

The ground operation needs to be supported by air power, UAVs and UCAVs, and can also be facilitated by hitting targets from Turkish border. Of course, all these depend on the assessments of the commanders.

‘US wants to secure oil fields from Türkiye’

Which areas are likely to be targeted by this ground operation?

First, Ayn al-Arab (which the PKK/YPG calls Kobani) and Manbij must be completely cleansed.

Of course, Qandil, the main center of terrorism, must be cleansed, which is the ultimate goal.

It is said that the US might sacrifice some areas to Türkiye, but is determined to protect some others from Türkiye. What do you think about this?

The main regions the US wants to protect are the oil regions. The US has already placed the PKK/YPG in these areas and is now transporting oil through them. For this reason Deir ez-Zor region is important for the US.

Syria, Iran, Russia and the US’s possible reactions to the ground operation

How would Syria, Iran, Russia and the US react to that possible Turkish ground operation?

Both Iran and Syria would be pleased with Türkiye’s operation against PKK/YPG, because this terrorist organization is also a problem for them.

As you know, the US names PKK/YPG as “my ground force”. So The US will not welcome this ground operation.

We know that Russia has some relations with Kurdish groups in this region. But Russia, especially nowadays, needs Türkiye’s friendship very much, so will not oppose this operation in order to keep Türkiye’s friendship.

The necessity of Türkiye-Iran-Russia cooperation

All these operations can and should be strengthened by strong friendly relations, especially with Iran and Russia. Unfortunately, some in Türkiye are making absurd comments on the recent events in Iran whereas it is enough to say, “We pray for Iran’s peace and prosperity”. Statements based on “human rights” in this context are pro-US statements. Türkiye and Iran have a lot in common. The US and PKK/YPG are hostile to both Iran and Türkiye.

Recently, a vote was held at the United Nations for Russia to pay war reparations. 89 countries voted yes, including Türkiye. Why? 74 countries abstained. Why didn’t Türkiye abstain? If Türkiye is neutral in the war in Ukraine, why don’t we abstain? Such actions reveal the inconsistent political line of the Turkish government.

Şafak Erdem

Şafak Erdem was born in Istanbul in 1993. He completed primary and secondary school in Istanbul, then studied philosophy and sociology as an undergraduate at Boğaziçi University. He is currently doing a master's degree in philosophy.

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June 2024