On 1 June 2022, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a plan to establish a “safe zone” extending approximately 30 km (20 mi) south of the Turkey-Syria border. Erdogan stated that the military operation is intended to remove Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) militants from the Syrian cities of Tel Rifaat and Manbij. The prospective operation aims to assist in creating a land bridge between areas in Syria’s Aleppo governorate that Turkish forces already control. This operation will be the fifth major military offensive the Turkish government has undertaken in Syria over the past six years.
Analyst Comment: Tel Rifaat and Manbij are controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish group that has fought against the Islamic State group alongside French, U.K. and U.S. forces. However, Turkish officials consider SDF to be strongly linked to the PKK.