Turkey vows to launch new cross-border military operations
Istanbul (AFP) –
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey would launch cross-border offensives, like previous military operations in Syria, in the "new era" after snap polls on June 24.
"Turkey will launch additional offensives like Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to clear its border of terror organisations in the new era," Erdogan said as he revealed the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) manifesto in Istanbul.
Operation Euphrates Shield took place between August 2016 and March 2017 against the Islamic State group, while the Olive Branch offensive targeted the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in its western enclave of Afrin earlier this year.
The president did not give any details on where the next operation could take place although there has been speculation that Ankara could launch an offensive in northern Iraq.
Turkey says the YPG is linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
The PKK has bases in the Qandil mountain area of Iraq.
Erdogan also repeatedly threatened in the past to expand the Afrin offensive to YPG-held Manbij, which raised fears of a confrontation with United States forces there.
Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002 and has since remained the country's biggest political force.
The Turkish head of state last month announced snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24 to the surprise of Turkish politics observers.
After these polls, Turkey will implement constitutional changes approved in the April 2017 referendum to create an executive presidency which expands the president's powers.
"June 24 is going to be a milestone for Turkey," Erdogan said.
During his 70-minute speech, Erdogan discussed a range of domestic and foreign issues.
He repeated Turkey's commitment to joining the European Union despite prior tensions with several EU member states and long-stalled membership negotiations.
Erdogan highlighted the AKP's success in starting formal membership talks in 2005, saying it was a country which had been kept waiting.
"We have absolutely not given up our objective of full membership of the European Union even if we have not seen the same determination and desire recently from our interlocutors," Erdogan insisted.
© 2018 AFP