By Cansu Dikme and Sibel Ugurlu
Turkey is ready “at any moment” to start an operation in a besieged border area of Syria, according to the president on Monday.
“Turkish Armed Forces will resolve the Afrin and Manbij issue as soon as possible. Our preparations are finalized, an operation may start at any moment,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an opening ceremony in the capital, Ankara.
Turkish military units are already deployed in Afrin, a district of Aleppo near the Turkish-Syria border, which is under siege by the PKK/PYD terrorist organization.
“Then, the turn will come for other regions,” Erdogan added.
The PKK/PYD is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU.
An Afrin operation would follow Turkey's successful seven-month Operation Euphrates Shield, which ended in March 2017.
“We are hitting with howitzers, and we will continue [to hit]. Will we withdraw into our own shells and wait for you to hit? We had already advised them that these terrorist organizations should be destroyed.
“We said: ‘We can never accept you trying to destroy Daesh terrorist organization via another terrorist organization [PKK/PYD].’ If we are strategic partners, you should cooperate with us,” Erdogan said.
'Don't come between us'
On the recently-announced U.S. plan to form a border army led by the terrorist PKK/PYD, the president said: “The U.S. has admitted to forming a terrorist army along the Turkish border," vowing that Turkey would kill that army before it is born.
On Sunday, the U.S.-led international coalition against Daesh announced that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF -- the U.S.-backed group, largely controlled and manned by the PKK/PYD terrorist organization in Syria.
“It is this 30,000-strong terrorist army that will point a gun at the U.S. soldiers there when they get into trouble,” he said.
“Lower your flags on the bases of terrorist group by yourself so that we won’t have to hand them over to you,” he warned Washington.
Erdogan also cautioned Turkey's allies against helping terrorists in Syria.
"Do not come between us and the terrorists, do not come between these herds of murderers and us. Otherwise we won't be responsible for the consequences.”
Turkey has long protested U.S. support for the PKK/PYD terror group, while Washington has brushed off these criticisms, saying it needs the terror group’s help to fight against Daesh in Syria.
Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians -- including more than 1,200 since July 2015.
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