Turkey can control Aegean while fighting in Syria – top general

Turkey’s top general has stated that Turkey has the capacity to keep the Aegean Sea “under control” while simultaneously conducting its ongoing military incursion, "Operation Olive Branch", in northwest Syria.

“We have the strength to conduct an operation in Afrin and keep the Aegean under control,” the Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency quoted General Hulusi Akar as saying on Friday.

Akar, Turkey’s Chief of the General Staff, was likely referring to possible threats from Greece, its neighbour across the Aegean Sea, with whom tensions have risen sharply in recent months.

The leaders of two of Turkey’s major opposition parties called for action to take back Aegean islands they said were under Greek “occupation” last December. Since then, a minor confrontation occurred when the Greek defence minister attempted to gain access to the uninhabitated, disputed islets of Kardak and Imia. He was rebuffed by Turkish coastguard vessels.

The rising tension has also seen a spike in violations of Greek airspace by the Turkish air force. Turkish aircraft infringed on Greek airspace 36 times in one day on Thursday.