Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a new military operation against US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria on Wednesday, December 13. The operation is intended to begin in "a few days" from Wednesday and target the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers part of the Kurdistan's Workers' Party (PKK), an outlawed Turkish political party and Turkey-designated terrorist organization. According to Turkish officials, the offensive will focus on areas east of the Euphrates River, the de facto border between Kurdish and Turkish forces in Syria. The US, which backs the YPG in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) and has military personnel in the area, has condemned Erdoğan's statement and warned against unilateral action by Turkey.
Military operations east of the Euphrates, as well as in Kurdish-held areas in Afrin, are possible in the coming days and weeks. Cross-border attacks into Turkish territory by YPG forces are also possible.
Tensions between the Turkish state and regional Kurdish populations have intensified since the launch of Operation Olive Branch against YPG forces on January 20, 2018. The YPG has launched several deadly retaliatory, cross-border rocket attacks on Turkish towns since the operation began.
Individuals in Syria and southeastern Turkey are advised to monitor developments to the situation, adhere to instructions issued by their home governments, and avoid travel within 10 km (6 mi) of the Turkish-Syrian border due to the high risk of violence.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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