Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country’s troops will launch an offensive in an area controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria and that Ankara has already notified the United States and Russia of the operation.
“We entered Afrin, Jarablus, al-Bab. Now we will enter the (area) east of the Euphrates. We shared this (information) with Russia and the US. As long as harassment fire continues, we cannot remain silent,” Erdogan warned without providing details on the time of the offensive.
The Turkish president also said Ankara has for some time been patient with the United States, which made an agreement with Turkey to implement a safe zone in northeastern Syria, but that “patience has an end.”
Turkey has been in talks with the US over the establishment of a militant-free safe zone across its border in northern Syria.
Washington revised plans for a total pullout of troops from Syria by saying in February that in total between 800 and 1,500 foreign troops would be sent on a mission to police northeastern Syria in the near future. About 400 of the troops are American.
This is deemed as a reversal of promises by President Donald Trump to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from the Arab country once Washington’s alleged fight against terrorism ends.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last month warned in an interview with broadcaster TGRT Haber that if the planned demilitarization zone is not established in the northern parts of Syria, Turkey will launch a new cross-border incursion into the Arab country.
Turkey suspects the US and allies are helping the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces based in the east of the Euphrates river to establish a permanent foothold in the region. Ankara views the armed Kurds in northeastern Syria as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Damascus has categorically rejected any deal between Turkey and the US on a buffer zone in northern Syria, describing it as a violation of its sovereignty.