Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on November 21 that Turkey’s most recent operation against North and East Syria is not limited to its activities in the air. 

This statement comes as Turkey has been threatening a renewed ground offensive in North and East Syria against the Autonomous Administration since June. Despite no ground operations taking place yet largely due to a lack of approval from Russia and the United States, Turkey’s air and artillery attacks have escalated significantly in that time, with dozens of drone strikes and F-16 bombings against civilian and military targets in the region.

The most recent airstrikes came against the backdrop of a terrorist attack in Istanbul, which the Turkish government has entirely blamed on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Both parties denied and condemned the attacks immediately, and the SDF has consistently reiterated that it is a separate entity from the PKK, a distinction that the United States recognizes. 

Mazloum Abdi addressing media during the Turkish offensive of October 2019

General Commander of the SDF, Mazloum Abdi, stated that the SDF is taking all possible measures to avoid a “catastrophe” in the region, and that the SDF will respond and defend the region against any Turkish attack with all tools at its disposal.