(Reuters) – Turkey’s armed forces have conducted several large-scale military operations over the decades in northern Iraq and northern Syria against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and Islamic State.
The latest military offensive in northeast Syria could reshape the map of the Syrian conflict, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey’s territorial control at the border.
Following is a timeline of Turkish cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and northern Syria:
March 20 – May 4, 1995. “Operation Steel”
Turkish Armed Forces started a military offensive into northern Iraq with around 35,000 troops targeting PKK, which was carrying out an insurgency in southeast Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.
May 12 – July 7, 1997. “Operation Hammer”
Turkey sent 30,000 soldiers to northern Iraq to fight PKK units and to support Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Sept. 25 – 15 Oct. 15, 1997. “Operation Dawn”
Thousands of Turkish troops, backed by air power, initiated Operation Dawn targeting PKK camps in northern Iraq.
Feb. 21–29, 2008. “Operation Sun”
Thousands of Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels using the Iraqi region as a base to stage attacks in Turkey. A senior Turkish military official said around 8,000 troops took part.
Feb. 21-122, 2015. “Operation Shah Euphrates”
Operation in northern Syria to move the shrine of Suleyman Shah, which Ankara regards as sovereign Turkish territory, to a Turkish-controlled location near the border and evacuate 38 guards under threat from Islamic State.
Aug. 24, 2016 – March 31, 2017. “Operation Euphrates Shield”
Turkish troops and 1,500 Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army rebels drove Islamic State militants and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from the border.
Turkish forces secured control the region between Afrin and Manbij districts, pushing Kurdish YPG militia east of Euphrates river and driving Islamic State fighters away from Jarablus, Dabiq and Al-Bab regions in northwest Syria.
Jan. 20 – March 24, 2018. “Operation Olive Branch”
Around 25,000 Free Syrian Army rebels joined Turkish forces to capture Arab towns and villages seized by the YPG, taking control of the Afrin region of northwest Syria.
Oct. 9. 2019 – Ongoing. “Operation Peace Spring”
Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched military operation into northeast Syria, aiming to drive back Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and create a 30-km deep ‘safe zone’ where Ankara plans to settle Syrian refugees.
Turkey says the YPG, the main component of the U.S.-backed SDF, is indistinguishable from the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.
The air and land offensive prompted alarm among opponents and allies of Turkey who say it could harm the campaign against Islamic State, worsen Syria’s humanitarian crisis and further complicate the eight-year conflict.
Reporting by Oben Mumcuoglu and Halilcan Soran; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Giles Elgood