Turkey is “ready” to “trample” U.S.-backed Kurds in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on Tuesday.
The Turkish leader noted that his country is finished preparing for operations in Syrian Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, located east of the Euphrates River.
“We will trample on [sic] terror groups with more effective operations,” Erdogan told his Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group in Ankara, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reports.
“We have finished all our preparations [and] plans … regarding the issue,” Erdogan added.
Although Ankara considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) an extension of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey’s NATO ally the United States continues to support the Kurdish fighters in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). The U.S. has designated the PKK a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
U.S. backing for the YPG has angered Turkey.
The YPG, the dominant group and leader of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), controls nearly all of the territory east of the Euphrates, including regions along Syria’s border with Turkey.
Erdogan reportedly indicated that Turkey would annihilate all “terror nests” in northern Syria.
Turkey cannot “look to the future with confidence without solving the Syrian issue,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president has been threatening to invade Kurdish-held northern Syria for months. Last week, the Turkish president issued a “final warning” to the YPG militiamen to pull out of northern Syria.
Instead of idling around in Manbij, we are determined to turn our focus and energy to the east of the Euphrates. We are carrying out studies in line with our own operation plans, and signs of them will soon be visible in the field. This should be regarded as our final warning.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration of delaying a deal to withdraw the Kurdish fighters from northern Syria’s Manbij region, located close to the Turkish border. However, the U.S. military recently indicated that “most” of the YPG fighters have left Manbij.
The United States and Tukey reached the Manbij deal in June to avert clashes between the YPG and Turkish-allied opposition fighters.
Under the agreement, the YPG militiamen are expected to leave Manbij, and Turkish and American troops are to maintain security and stability in and around the town.
Early this year, the U.S.-led coalition confirmed to Military Times that alliance troops had taken fire from suspected Turkey-backed fighters “sporadically over the time they have been patrolling near Manbij.”