The Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) on Tuesday once again blocked an attempt by the PKK terrorist group's Syrian branch YPG to infiltrate the army's front lines in the Mare district of northern Syria.
YPG terrorists, who have been occupying the Tal Rifaat district located 18 kilometers (11.19 miles) away from the Turkish border for more than six years, attempted to infiltrate the Mare district, which is under the control of the military opposition, in the northern countryside of Aleppo province in the morning.
Responding to this, the SNA clashed with the terrorists who attempted to attack from the direction of Sheikh Isa and Tal Rifaat, repelling the infiltration attempt with heavy weapons.
According to the information obtained from local security sources, YPG terrorists who suffered losses in the conflict had to withdraw.
YPG terrorists captured Tal Rifaat and some of its surrounding settlements in February 2016 with the air support of Russia.
The terrorist organization displaced approximately 250,000 civilians from Tal Rifaat and its surrounding areas, and the displaced people sought refuge in areas close to the Turkish border.
From there, the YPG attacks Turkish security forces and the positions of opposition fighters, who provide security for settlements in the Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch region.
The YPG controls large parts of northern Syria and is regarded by Washington as an important ally against Daesh despite its NATO ally Turkey's major security concerns and warnings.
During his talks with Russian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that Turkey will continue to fight terrorism.
"Syria has become the home of terrorist groups. Therefore, both Russia and Iran should take a stance against Syria," he reiterated Monday.
"Especially west and east of the Euphrates River, the terrorist organization PKK/YPG still continues its attacks against civilians and our country. I personally conveyed our determination to fight this fight to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and the Iranian president (Ebrahim Raisi) during the summit," he said.
Last week, a trilateral meeting was held between Erdoğan, Putin and Raisi in Iran's capital Tehran. The leaders gathered for the 7th summit in the Astana format to discuss recent developments in Syria, the fight against terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional security, particularly the YPG and Daesh, the humanitarian situation, and the voluntary return of Syrians.
Erdoğan said last week that Turkey's plan for a new military operation in northern Syria will be on the table as long as the PKK terrorist group's Syrian branch YPG continues to pose a security threat to his country.
In May, Erdoğan announced plans for a new military operation in Syria to drive away the YPG, who are an extension of the PKK terrorist gorup. The plans include resuming Turkish efforts to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone along the border with Syria and enabling the voluntary return of Syrian refugees from Turkey.
Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and already controls some territories in the north. Turkish-backed operations in previous years have ousted YPG and Daesh terrorists from the northwestern enclave of Afrin and a series of border towns further east. Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).
“A new operation will continue to be on our agenda as long as our national security concerns are not resolved,” Erdoğan said. “We want Russia and Iran to be on our side in our fight against terrorist organizations,” he urged.
During the meeting in Tehran, Erdoğan said Turkey was determined to “drive out the centers of evil” that target Turkey’s security, adding that the regions of Tal Rifaat and Manbij – where Turkey has said it plans to send troops – had turned into a “terror bed.”
The three presidents released a joint statement that appeared to refer to Turkey's concerns. The statement said they “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives."
Erdoğan has said that since the United States and Russia have failed to live up to their commitments to provide a safe zone along the border region, Turkey is ready to mount an operation to protect the nation and locals in northern Syria from the YPG. In October 2019, Russia committed to removing the terrorist group from Tal Rifaat and Manbij after reaching an agreement with Turkey during Operation Peace Spring. Moscow also promised that the terrorists would be pulled back 30 kilometers from the border on the M4 highway and in the area outside the Operation Peace Spring zone.