Turkey threatens to clear Kurds from border if Sochi deal fails
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said that Turkey would “clear terrorists” on its border in northern Syria if Syrian Kurdish militia did not withdraw by the end of a deadline agreed with Russia.
“If the terrorists are not cleared at the end of the 150 hours, we will take control and clean it ourselves,” Mr Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul, referring to the YPG militia viewed as a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Mr Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a deal in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday in which Moscow will “facilitate the removal” of the fighters and their weapons from within 30 kilometres of the border.
The deadline ends at 6pm local time on Tuesday.
The Turkish leader also repeated a previous threat to “open the gates” for refugees to head to Europe if European countries did not support Ankara’s plans for a “safe zone” in north-east Syria where he wants to resettle the refugees residing in Turkey.
The operation began after US President Donald Trump withdrew American forces from northern Syria, greenlighting Turkey’s incursion, which began on October 9.
Russia yesterday condemned the US for sending armoured vehicles and combat troops into eastern Syria to protect the country’s oilfields.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the move is aimed at keeping the fields from potentially falling into the hands of ISIS militants.
But Russian ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said “what Washington is doing now, the seizure and control of oilfields in eastern Syria under its armed control, is, quite simply, international state banditry”.
He said “all hydrocarbon deposits and other minerals located on the territory of Syria do not belong to the ISIS terrorists, and even less to the ‘American defenders from ISIS terrorists’, but exclusively to the Syrian Arab Republic.
“The real cause of this illegal action by the United States in Syria lies far from the ideals that Washington has proclaimed and from the slogans of fighting terrorism,” Mr Konashenkov said.
Turkey outright rejected another proposal for northern Syria from Germany yesterday. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara does not find Berlin’s proposal for creating an international “safe zone” realistic.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, Mr Cavusoglu also said Turkey would not tolerate any human rights violations in north-east Syria and would investigate any allegations that they had taken place.
Turkey sent combat troops into north-east Syria this month targeting Kurdish YPG militia.
Turkey outright rejected another proposal for northern Syria from Germany yesterday