Why is Turkey expanding its military operations in northern Syria?

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The Kurdish-led forces who helped the United States defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) in Syria have accused Washington of reneging on its commitments by pulling out troops from the country’s northeast and clearing the way for a Turkish assault on the Kurdish-controlled region.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), was Washington’s main ally in Syria in the fight against ISIL. In recent years, they have expanded their control in northern and eastern Syria, in a vast area stretching 480km (300 miles) from the Euphrates River to the Iraq border.

But Turkey considers the Kurdish forces a “terrorist organisation” linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed campaign for autonomy in Turkey.

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