Turkey will launch a military operation against US-backed forces in northeastern Syrian in the upcoming few days, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed during the Turkish Defense Industry Summit on December 12.
“We expressed that we will launch an operation in east of Euphrates in a few days to save it from a separatist terrorist organization,” the Turkish Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying.
The Turkish President also criticized the US-led coalition plan to build observation posts along Syria’s border with his country. At the same time, he stressed that the Turkish military will not attack U.S. service members deployed in the region during its upcoming operation.
“It is clear that the purpose of U.S. observation points [in Syria] is not to protect our country from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey,” said Erdogan.
The coalition’s plan to establish several observation posts on the Syrian-Turkish border was revealed by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis last month. Mattis claimed that these posts will address Turkey’s “legitimate” concerns about “terror threats” in northeastern Syria, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are in fact the core of the SDF. Both groups are designated as “terrorists” by Turkey.
The Syrian border cities of Ayn Arab, known as Kobani, and Tell Abyad will likely to be among the main targets of the upcoming Turkish operation. U.S. forces are reportedly conducting patrols in both cities on a regular basis.
The U.S. has not commented on Erdogan’s announcement so far. However, local observers believe that Washington will not tolerate such an operation as it would jeopardize its partnership with Kurdish forces.
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