Turkey will mount a military operation in northeast Syria, it said on Saturday, after accusing Washington of not doing enough to expel Syrian Kurdish fighters from its border.
The air and ground operation east of the Euphrates river in Syria could start at any time, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town of capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from militants.
“We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given,” Erdogan said, adding:
It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation.
Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace…
Turkey rid an area of 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations, Erdogan said.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria – Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch – to purge the region of militant groups, including Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK.
However, a number of “liberated” cities – including Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz and Afrin – remain subject to sporadic terrorist attacks from Tal Rifaat.
“Turkey has to carry out and succeed in this operation [east of Euphrates] for both its national security and [to ensure] the return of Syrians in Turkey to their own country,” he streessed.
Turkey has long complained about the threat of militants coming from east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, which neighbors its southern border, vowing to take a military action to prevent formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey made all kinds of warning to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdogan said.