Erdogan: Turkey will not withdraw from Syria until other countries leave

TURKEY, ANKARA (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments published on Friday that his country would not leave Syria until other countries pulled out, adding that it would continue its cross-border offensive against Kurdish guerrillas until they all leave the area.

Turkey launched its third offensive in northeastern Syria last month to drive the YPG out of its borders and establish a safe area it hopes to resettle two million Syrian refugees.

“Turkey will leave Syria when other countries leave as well,” Erdogan told reporters on the flight back from a visit to Hungary, adding that the Turkish offensive was continuing until all Kurdish fighters had left the border area.

“We will not stop until our last terrorist leaves the area,” he said, referring to the YPG, the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

“We will not leave here until other countries come out,” he said, according to NTV television.

According to an agreement between Turkey and Russia, Russian and Turkish forces are conducting joint patrols on the Turkish-Syrian border. Troops carried out their third patrol on Friday, but a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces said Turkish troops fired tear gas canisters at some civilians protesting against the patrols.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter that Turkish troops targeted civilians with tear gas, although their protest was peaceful and wounded 10 of them.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the third patrol had been completed along an 88-km (10-mile) road 10 km deep in the easternmost part of the border.

Turkey’s European allies said the attack would disrupt the battle against IS. Turkey has denied the accusation, saying its allies should support its plans to repatriate most of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in its territory.

Erdogan’s top aide, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Friday leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Turkey would meet on the sidelines of a NATO summit on December 3-4 in London to discuss the situation in Syria.

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