UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday renewed his threat to launch an “air and ground” military operation in Syria against Kurdish armed movements that Ankara considers “terrorist”.
Erdogan has previously said Turkey’s patience is running out after Turkish and US officials reached an agreement to set up a buffer zone in northern Syria in August.
“We have made our preparations, completed the operation plans and gave the necessary instructions,” he said in a televised speech, adding that the offensive could begin “as soon as today or tomorrow.”
“We will carry out this operation on the ground and from the air,” he said, adding that it would take place east of the Euphrates.
Erdogan has repeatedly threatened a cross-border attack and said recently he had made no progress with the United States on the buffer zone in the form Ankara wants.
As the two countries conduct joint Turkish-US patrols, Ankara urgently wants to establish a “safe zone” to repatriate up to 2 million Syrian refugees.
Turkey is hosting some 3.6 million refugees, the vast majority of whom are Syrians.
Ankara also wants to move the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from its borders, saying it is a “terrorist” arm of Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
These Kurdish units and US forces contributed to the war against Islamic State extremists, and their involvement in the fighting has led to the restoration of large areas in northern Syria.
The Turkish military launched two attacks in Syria, the first in 2016 against ISIS and the second in 2018 against the YPG.
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