Turkey, Politics

Turkey to delay operation east of Euphrates, Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks come after US decision to withdraw troops from Syria

21.12.2018
Turkey to delay operation east of Euphrates, Syria

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA

Ankara will delay a possible counter-terrorism operation east of the Euphrates River, Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

"The phone call we made with [U.S. President Donald] Trump, as well as the contacts of our diplomatic and security units, and the statements made by the American side led us to wait for a while [for an operation east of the Euphrates River].

"Of course this is not an open ended waiting process," Erdogan said at an award ceremony in Istanbul.

Erdogan's remarks came after Trump on Wednesday ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from Syria, saying Daesh had been defeated.

The president reiterated that Turkey has "no eyes" on Syria's territory, adding: "But, our position against terrorist attacks targeting us from Syria is clear."

A mission east of the Euphrates, which Turkey’s leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria since 2016 -- Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- both meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.

"The regional security is vital for us. The steps that we have taken in the region together with Russia and Iran aim to ensure regional security," Erdogan said. 

The president said that Turkey was obliged to take over the peacemaker role in Syria.

Erdogan also asserted that Turkey will continue its actions in the upcoming months to remove both PKK/PYD and Daesh elements from Syria.

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 YPG is its Syrian branch.

Against Turkey's objections, the U.S. has worked with the PKK/YPG, calling them "allies" in fighting Daesh, but ignoring their terrorist status.

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