Turkey in talks with Russia to use Syrian airspace for anti-YPG ops
Ankara is holding talks with Moscow to conduct further incursions into northeastern Syria, using Syrian airspace.
Turkey is in talks with Russia to use Syria's airspace to conduct a cross-border operation against the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in northeastern Syria, as announced by Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister.
The United States has been arming Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria, making grounds for oil and gas theft. In August, SANA reported that US armed forces looted a convoy of 65 tankers filled with oil from the region of Al-Jazeera, then headed toward their military bases in Iraq, smuggling their looted cargo via the illegal Al-Mahmudiyah border crossing.
Turkey has conducted a number of operations in northern Syria against the US-backed SDF and the YPG, threatening further incursions over a period of months.
Last month, it ramped up its military preparations after an explosion in Istanbul, which Kurdish militants were held accountable for, though denied involvement. Ankara then launched strikes against YPG targets, and the president gave the possibility of a coming ground offensive.
On Saturday, Akar announced that Turkey is in talks with Russia, which supports the Syrian Arab Forces, regarding the operation: "We are in talks and discussing with Russia about all issues including opening the airspace."
Earlier this month, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone call, during which they discussed several issues, such as bilateral ties and the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.
Erdogan has been threatening to conduct a new military incursion into northern Syria to move out Kurdish forces which he blames for the November bomb blast that killed six people in Istanbul. The Turkish President also said his country is committed to destroying the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) "until its last militant is neutralized" and raised the possibility of conducting a ground operation soon.
On November 20, Turkey launched airstrikes that targeted military bases belonging to the PKK and its armed wing, the YPK, in both northern Syria and Iraq.
The Turkish warplanes also targeted a site of the SDF in Khafiyyat Al-Salem silos, west of Ain Issa district, north of Raqqa.
Russia has been receiving indications from Ankara and Damascus about being open to making steps towards one another and about hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, told reporters on November 23, following the 19th round of the Astana talks on Syria.