Erdogan warns of possible ground offensive in Syria, Iraq

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. [File Photo]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a possible ground offensive in northern Syria and Iraq, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.

The move comes after Turkish forces launched cross-border air raids on what they said were locations used by Kurdish groups they blame for a bombing in central Istanbul.

The escalating tensions have prompted global concern, with Russia and the United States urging Ankara on Monday to show restraint.

Speaking to reporters on a flight home from Qatar after attending the opening of the World Cup, Erdogan said Turkey’s ongoing military campaign in northern Syria and northern Iraq “is not limited to just an air operation” and could involve ground forces.

“Competent authorities, our defence ministry and chief of staff will together decide the level of force that should be used by our ground forces,” he said, as per Al Jazeera. “We make our consultations and then we take our steps accordingly.”

The Turkish operation was launched on Sunday, a week after a bomb blast on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue killed six people and wounded 81.

Ankara blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Group (PKK) and affiliated Syrian Kurdish groups for the November 13 attack, although the Kurdish fighters have denied any involvement.

The Turkish defence ministry said operation Claw Sword – which also included land-fired weapons – killed 184 fighters and destroyed 89 targets including shelters, bunkers, caves and tunnels.

The state-run Anadolu news agency meanwhile reported rocket fire from Syrian territory, with two people reported killed on Monday when projectiles hit the Turkish border district of Karkamis.

Meanwhile, United States expressed its sincere condolences for the loss of lives in Syria and Turkey.

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