Turkey is preparing “intensely” for a counter-terrorist military operation in Manbij and parts of Syria east of the Euphrates River, said the country’s defense minister on Thursday.
Speaking during his visit to Turkish forces in Doha, Qatar’s capital, Hulusi Akar said: “We have Manbij and east of the Euphrates ahead of us right now. We’re working intensely in this regard.”
Terrorists are said to be “digging some trenches and tunnels in Manbij and east of the Euphrates. Whatever they dig, trenches or tunnels … when the time comes they will be buried in the trenches that they dig. Of this there should be no doubt.”
Akar added, “We are following developments closely. Operational and intelligence units of the Turkish Republic have been making every kind of effort that they can and continuing to work night and day to discharge their duties in the best way.”
Last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a counter-terrorist operation could begin "at any moment" east of the Euphrates River, stressing that Turkey would never allow a “terror corridor” to be established along its border.
On the terrorist PKK presence in northern Iraq, Akar also said: “In this regard, an air operation was carried out in both the regions of Sinjar and Mt. Karajak.”
“Every measure was taken in order not to harm any civilians there. Thank God the terrorists there were neutralized without harming any civilians or innocents,” Akar added.
Last week, the Turkish Armed Forces dealt a heavy blow to the PKK terror group in Iraq's Sinjar and Mt. Karajak regions.
The defense minister also reiterated that Sinjar “would never become a second Qandil,” referring to Iraq's Mt. Qandil region, located near the Turkish border, where the terrorist PKK has its main base.
“We’ve done whatever we can do on this and will continue to do so. We will never allow this to happen,” he added.
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 and children.
The PKK/PYD -- the target of Turkey's possible new counter-terrorist operation -- is the PKK's Syrian branch.
Reporting by Sarp Ozer:Writing by Nilay KarAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.