Turkish defence minister pledged on Friday, to start operating its military campaign against the US-backed Kurdish militia forces near the Syrian border, sharpening focus over a potential conflict that the United States has sought to prevent.
The comment from Turkey’s Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar, on an unannounced visit near the Syrian border to inspect troops stationed there, appeared to be aimed at both Kurdish forces and Washington.
According to news reported by Reuters, the US and Turkey have been deeply divided over the US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement to withdraw its troops from Syria. Trump’s plan hinged on Turkish cooperation leading them to secure a swathe of the northeast Syria as the US departs.
A spokesperson said the US-led coalition against the Islamic State has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria.
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, this week, tried to force Turkey that it would not attack the YPG and would instead protect them once the US troops’ withdraw from Syria, that has earned a strong rebuke from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey considered the Kurdish forces as a group of terrorists and sees US’ support for them against the Islamic State as a betrayal.
While delivering a speech to military personnel in Sanliurfa at a brigade command centre, Akar said, “When the time and place comes the terrorists here will be buried in the ditches they have dug, as was done in the previous operation.”
Ankara has repeatedly expressed its frustration over a deal with the US for its withdrawal of the YPG from the city of Manbij. Ankara said, “Before us, we have Manbij on one side and the east of the Euphrates on the other.”
He said: “Important preparations and planning have been made in connection with this. Our preparations are continuing intensively.”
Ankara on Thursday said, its planned operation against the Kurdish forces in Syria does not depend on the US troops’ pullout from the region.