Turkey is ready for an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, to clear the region of “terrorists,” as Ankara calls any opposed to its expansionist plans.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town of capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists.
“We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given.
“It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation,” Erdogan said.
“Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace,” he added. Unfortunately for Erdogan the world understands what his idea of peace is.
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 terrorist groups ISIS, which it did not do, and the YPG, which Turkey labels as the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK, and which is the actual target of Turkish forces
However, a number of cities that fell to Turkish forces — including Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz and Afrin — remain subject to sporadic 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.
Erdogan 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 a military action to prevent formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey made all kinds of warning to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdogan said.
Erdogan blasts those wasting Turkey’s time using diplomacy
“We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the U.S. for safe zone], we see that all were a tale,” Erdogan said, with the characteristic disdain he holds for due process and diplomacy.
U.S. and Turkish troops has carried out three joint ground patrol for the safe zone since Sept. 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 under the name of SDG?”
“We have not heard such a statement, and even some the U.S. officials publicly say the PKK is a structure with which the YPG is working together,” he reiterated his standard position.
Washington has partnered with the YPG-led SDF in the effort to secure the defeat of ISIS in northeast Syria, which has strained relations with Ankara.
Erdogan signaled a military operation again to keep Turkey away from terror threat when he said that it is now end of talks with those wasting Turkey’s time using diplomacy.
Turkey has long championed the idea of what it calls “terrorist-free safe zones in Syria”. It has stressed ridding the area of the terrorist YPG, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.