President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that Turkey could launch a ground operation in Syria, following deadly strikes by Ankara and Kurdish militants in northern Syria.
“There is no question that this operation be limited to only an aerial operation,” Erdogan told reporters as he returned to Turkey from Qatar.
“Competent authorities, our defence ministry and chief of staff will together decide the level of force that should be used by our ground forces,” Erdogan said.
“We have already warned that we will make those who violate our territory pay,” he said.
Erdogan spoke after a strike from Syrian territory killed at least three people, including a child, in a border Turkish town.
The strikes came a day after Turkey carried out air strikes against the bases of outlawed Kurdish militants across northern Syria and Iraq, which it said were being used to launch “terrorist” attacks on Turkish soil.
The overnight raids in northern and northeastern Syria killed at least 31 people, said the British-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They were mainly against positions held by Syrian Kurdish forces.
The offensive, codenamed Operation Claw-Sword, comes a week after a blast in central Istanbul killed six people and wounded 81, an attack Turkey has blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a bloody insurgency there for decades and is designated a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies. But it has denied involvement in the Istanbul explosion.