Erdogan threatens clandestine operations into Iraq and Syria

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech at a conference in Istanbul on April 29, 2017. (© AFP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his country’s army could conduct “overnight” operations into Iraq and Syria.

“Turkey knows what to do and when to do it, we may come there overnight all of a sudden,” Erdogan said at a business conference in Istanbul.

The president’s words were reported in Turkish media as a response to the US and Russia, who criticised recent Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria.

The multiple airstrikes on Tuesday killed 20 People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters in northeast Syria and one Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) member in northern Iraq’s Shingal region. Ankara says both group’s are affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Six Peshmerga fighters of the Kurdistan Region were also killed in the air raid, accidentally, according to Turkey.

While some social media users criticised Erdogan’s words and likened them to threats used by Turkish nationalists against Armenians in the past, the majority of Turkish users posted videos and photos in support.