Erdoğan signals operation against YPG east of Euphrates
PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that a military operation against the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian affiliate is imminent and that Turkey is determined to eliminate all terrorists posing a threat to its national security.
“With the support of our commandos, hopefully, we will soon destroy the terror nests in the east of the Euphrates River,” Erdoğan said at a military graduation ceremony held for Turkish Special Forces in the southwestern province of Isparta, referring to PKK’s Syria affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG is the dominant group in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls almost all the territory in the east of the river comprising some onethird of the territory of Syria, except for the Bashar Assad regime-controlled area near Deir el-Zour and the Daesh-held area near the Iraqi border.
The SDF also controls the districts of Manbij and Tabqah on the right bank of the river.
Turkey considers the YPG’s presence on its border with Syria, with Manbij in particular, a grave threat against its national security.
Turkish and American forces are currently training to conduct joint patrols in Manbij, but Turkish authorities have repeatedly accused their American counterparts for delaying the YPG’s withdrawal from the Syrian province and the group’s presence in the district has been expressed as a “red line” by Turkish officials in terms of the country’s national security.
Turkish troops and their allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) have captured bordering Jarablus, al-Rai and al-Bab districts from the Daesh terrorist group through Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016. While Daesh terrorists were on the retreat, the YPG also advanced to Manbij through a bridgehead and captured the town.
The Turkish military and the FSA also cleared the Afrin district from the YPG in Operation Olive Branch, launched in Janu- ary 2018. Turkish security forces “cause great distress” to terrorist organizations, President Erdoğan said, speaking at a joint opening ceremony in Isparta in the same day. “Turkey will ‘do whatever is necessary’ regarding Syria’s Manbij,” Erdoğan said.
“They [the U.S.] promised us. They said: ‘We will leave here in 90 days.’ They did not leave,” Erdoğan said.
“There is no room for terrorists in Turkey’s future,” he emphasized.
TRAITORS ELIMINATED FROM MILITARY
Erdoğan also said Turkey dealt a major blow to the members of terrorist organiza- tions at home. He added Turkey removed “traitors” in the army after a failed coup attempt staged by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on July 15, 2016.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Speaking about the economy, Erdoğan said Turkey continues to maintain investments and expand its economy.