On April 23, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that the Turkish commandos had carried out what it called a “large-scale operation” in northern Syria in response to a recent attack by Kurdish forces.
In a statement, the ministry said that the operation, which was supported by artillery fire, targeted fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The YPG is a key faction of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led coalition that controls vast areas in northern and northeastern Syria. The PKK is reported to have vast influence within the coalition.
Syrian news sources reported intense Turkish artillery strikes on SDF-held towns and villages in the northern Aleppo countryside.
The Turkish Ministry of National Defense claimed that 50 fighters of the YPG and the PKK were “neutralized” in the commandos’ operation.
A day earlier, Turkish police officer Aytac Altinors was killed when the Afrin Liberation Forces (ALF), an affiliate of the SDF, targeted a Turkish armored vehicle near the town of Marea in the northern countryside of Aleppo with anti-tank guided missiles.
While Turkey acknowledged the death of a single police officer, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that three Turkish service members were killed in the ALF’s attack.
Turkey warned Kurdish forces that any new attack on its forces in northern and northeastern Syria will be met with a “heavy response”.
The situation in northern and northeastern Syria will likely remain tense for the next few weeks. Turkey appears to be planning to escalate its operations against the SDF. The Turkish military and its proxies could even launch a ground offensive.