In an official statement issued late Sunday, the White House said, “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.” It added, “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate’, will no longer be in the immediate area.”
The White House also confirmed Ankara would attempt to take ownership of all seized Islamic State (ISIS) fighters from the past two years.
The statement said the President Donald Trump administration has also “pressed Germany, France and other European countries, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused,” adding, “The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer.”
Turkish media has also reported Erdogan and Trump contested to hold a bilateral meeting at the White House in November, though the statement did not mention in its statement.
Turkey’s foreign minister Melvut Cavusoglu has on Thursday said Ankara does not buy what the US claims “progress” in establishing a “safe zone” in northeast Syria, adding Washington’s endeavours to create a safe zone will yield no outcome and that Turkey is prepared to take action itself.
The statement said Turkey also urged the US to put an end to supplies or aid to its backed Kurdish militants or PKK/YPG/PYD groups, which Ankara considers it as terrorist organizations.
Addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkey has been hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees and has yet spent around $40 billion for them, according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey has, for a considerable length of time, been squeezing to set up a 30-40km profound zone inside Syria, looking for the removal of the YPG from the zone and the decimation of their passages and fortresses.
Trump has proposed the safe zone plan to Erdogan last year and has announced procedures to withdraw American special armed forces from northeast Syria, but later halted the plans in order to ensure US’ Kurdish allies were safe.
The US and Turkey have been at loggerheads over plans for the region, where the US-backed Kurdish YPG fighters, forming a main American force, are combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL and ISIS).
The Syrian government has called the deal between Turkey and the US a “blatant attack” on the nation’s power and sovereignty.