Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the Turkish Armed Forces are prepared to launch a new military operation against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
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In a new statement, Erdogan said the Turkish Armed Forces will be mounting a military operation in northeastern Syria, as he blamed the U.S. of not doing enough to expel the Kurdish-led forces along the border.
Erdogan said Turkey aimed to “water the east of Euphrates with fountains of peace” and settle refugees there.
“We gave all warnings to our interlocutors regarding the east of Euphrates and we have acted with sufficient patience,” he said at the opening of his AK Party’s annual camp.
“We’ve made our preparations, we’ve completed our operation plans, given the necessary instructions.” He added that air and ground actions could start “as soon as today or tomorrow”.
The air and ground operation east of the Euphrates river in Syria could start at any time, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
The U.S.-backed force which controls the region, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the Kurdish YPG militia, said it wanted stability but vowed to respond to any attack.
“We will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to defend ourselves and our people,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said.
NATO allies Ankara and Washington agreed in August to set up a zone in northeast Syria along the border with Turkey, which considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish insurgents at home.
Turkey has accused the United States, which helped the YPG defeat Islamic State militants in Syria, of moving too slowly to create the zone. They are at odds over how far it should extend into Syria and who should control it.
Ankara wants the zone to stretch 30 km (19 miles) inside Syria and to be cleared of YPG fighters. It has repeatedly warned of launching an offensive on its own into northeast Syria, where U.S. forces are stationed alongside the SDF.