Turkish military intervention in Syria began in August 2016 under the code name Operation Euphrates Shield. The operation was supposed to be in an effort to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and crush the Islamic State from the north by doing a cross border assault en mass.

What was supposed to be a swift and decisive attack on the Islamic State turned into what President Erdogan declared to be, “Syrian Kurdish terror,” and graduated into almost exclusive clashes between the Turkish forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces. A group that was specifically targeted was the YPG; a Syrian Kurdish militia and long time enemy of Turkey through its affiliation with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), a guerrilla organization that routinely carries out attacks against the Turkish military.

The history of the Kurds skirmishing with the Turkish goes back generations; it is fiercely rooted in cultural and ideological differences paired with territorial disputes. The leader of the PKK, and YPG by default, is Abdullah Ocalan; a man imprisoned by the Turkish government. The YPG and YPJ actually practice abstinence in respect to Ocalan and refuse to rest or take part in such things until he is freed. Let that sink in. An entire group of people, thousands of them, have abstained from sex in honor of one man being imprisoned by Turkey. That’s the level of conflict we are talking about here.

Supposedly the Turkish intervention ended in March of 2017 but the bombs continue to fall in northern Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). When Operation Euphrates Shield concluded, the Turkish army had reclaimed supposedly previously owned Turkish territory that had been lost to the Islamic State.

The only issue with this is that the Syrian Kurds and Syrian Democratic Forces had already re-captured it from the Islamic State during the course of the conflict and sustained heavy losses while doing so. This has left a bad taste in the mouths of Syrian Kurds who are now experiencing a renewed hatred for Turkey.

The conflict between the two will continue for a long time and wasn’t even phased, if not accelerated, by the attempted coupe in Turkey that was seen almost a year prior to Operation Euphrates Shield. Even before the coup, PKK guerrilla commandos were attacking Turkish government buildings deep within the country and they were ambushing army patrols in the mountains on the border. A conflict born and fueled by two very different ideologies coming from two very different nationalities.

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