TURKEY READY FOR OPERATION EAST OF EUPHRATES IN SYRIA: ERDOGAN
Turkey is ready for an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 5, to clear the region of terrorists.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town in the Ankara capital region, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the region of terrorists.
“We have completed our preparations and action plan. The necessary instructions were given. It is maybe today or tomorrow, but the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process has been started. We will carry out a ground and air operation,” Erdogan said.
“Our aim is, I stress, to bring peace east of Euphrates,” he added. 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 the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization.
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 stressed.
Turkey has long complained about the threat of terrorists coming from east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, which neighbors its southern border, vowing to take military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey repeatedly warned related parties of the issue of establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdogan said.
Wasting Turkey’s time
“We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the U.S. in the safe zone], we see that all were a fiction,” the president said. American and Turkish troops have carried out three joint ground patrol in the safe zone since September 9. While Turkey welcomes the joint patrols, it has also said the U.S. is not doing enough to set up the safe zone properly.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
“Turkey’s question to its allies is clear,” he said. “Do you recognize the PKK/YPG as a terrorist organization that you are trying to cover over under the name of the Syrian Democratic Forces? We have not heard such a statement. Even some U.S. officials publicly admit the PKK and YPG are working together.”