Turkey will apply its own plan of action, if Turkish soldiers are not allowed to control safe-zone in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Istanbul on Saturday.
“Turkey has no time and patience and it wants safe-zone to be built along eastern Euphrates line, along Syria, as soon as possible,” Erdogan said, speaking at the graduation ceremony of Milli Savunma University.
“Three weeks later, there is last chance, when we are holding a meetings in the U.S. on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session,” said Turkish president.
He added that Turkey wants to actually create a safe-zone with own soldiers guarding it, within three weeks in the eastern Euphrates within the conditions it has determined.
“The oppression of the terrorist organizations against the people in the region has become invisible in the eastern Euphrates area of Syria,” Erdogan added.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.
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 Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
- Air Defense Systems
“Recently, NATO has failed to deliver on many issues including ensuring Turkey's security, though it still remains our ally in defense cooperation,” Erdogan said.
He further said that Turkey has no intention to abandon NATO membership and its allies.
Erdogan said that F-35 fighter jets are yet to be delivered to Turkey, even when the purchase had been completed. “We can't wait to see what happens to us with our hands tied,” he added.
Erdogan said there is no difference between Russia's S-400 and the U.S.'s Patriot, considering Turkey's need to air defense systems.
“If the sale of Patriot missile system turns into a pressure tool and our security needs are weakened in this way, then Turkey will not hesitate to prefer other systems,” he added.
The Trump administration has already suspended Turkey from the F-35 system after Ankara's revived the batteries of the S-400 system. But some hopes rested on a compromise, wherein Turkey could keep the Russian anti-missile system turned off, in order to rejoin the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
While the U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced reluctance, to penalize Turkey over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, his administration has maintained that the Russian system could expose the advanced fighter to possible Russian subterfuge and will be incompatible with the NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and thus does not pose a threat to the alliance.
Trump blames the Obama administration for the current row, over its refusal to sign a deal with Turkey, to sell it the American defense firm Raytheon's Patriot missile system.
Turkey received the second batch of the S-400 on Tuesday, and the delivery is slated to continue for one month, according to Turkey's defense ministry.
Ankara received its first supply of S-400 missiles in July. The delivery of the first battery was completed on July 25.
By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur, Andac Hongur and Elif Kucuk