Turkey’s military said that the airstrikes were aimed at preventing the Kurdish fighters from sending terrorists and weapons to Turkey.
President Erdogan defended the attacks, saying that Turkey was obliged to take measures that were shared with the US and Russia. However, The US State Department expressed deep concern regarding the attacks saying they were not authorized by the US-led coalition fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government also condemned the strikes carried out on its territory.
Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Asli Aydintasbas, a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
"The Turkish attacks come as a big surprise, especially since Donald Trump was the first Western leader to call and congratulate Erdogan after the controversial referendum in Turkey last Sunday. He also gave Erdogan a rendezvous date in Washington for May 16," she told Sputnik.
The Turkish attack on the Kurdish forces in Iraq, in the Sinjar region, she said, were at least was somewhat expected. But what was unexpected was the Turkish strike on the Kurdish positions in Syria. The Kurds are part of the coalition not just with the US, but also with the Russian forces in the Manbij and Afrin areas, the expert added. It really complicates the situation in northern Syria but what is more, it further complicates the fight against Daesh in Syria especially since the coalition is now gearing up for the offensive against Daesh stronghold in Raqqa, Aydintasbas explained.
"Turkey is very concerned with the fact that the Kurdish forces have established not only a cozy relationship with the American and Russian forces in Syria, but that they are cementing this relationship. Probably what they wanted is to send a message to their allies [Russia and the US] that they are not happy about it," she suggested.
Asli Aydintasbas also discussed the likely impact that the Turkish strikes might have on US-Turkish relations.
The question now is, she said, whether the Americans will respond right away or wait until Erdogan meets with Trump on May 16. The Turkish authorities, including Erdogan have made it clear that this is only the beginning of the campaign and that they intend to continue airstrikes.
It will certainly complicate the US-Turkish relationship regardless, whether or not the Americans condemn Turkey publicly or keeping remain quiet about it, she concluded.