Turkey is determined to focus attention on east of Euphrates in Syria, Erdoğan says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 26.10.2018 11:42
Updated 26.10.2018 14:21
A handout picture released by the Turkish Armed Forces shows Turkish soldiers accompanied by armored vehicles patrolling between the town of Manbij in northern Syria and an area it controls after a 2016 military incursion on June 18, 2018.
A handout picture released by the Turkish Armed Forces shows Turkish soldiers accompanied by armored vehicles patrolling between the town of Manbij in northern Syria and an area it controls after a 2016 military incursion on June 18, 2018.

Turkey is determined to focus its attention on the east of the Euphrates River in Syria instead of wasting time in the northern Syrian district of Manbij, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday, reiterating that the region will be cleared of terrorists and returned to its rightful owners, the Syrian people.

Turkey dissolved the terror corridor in Syria threatening its border and new formations of them are "not acceptable," which are a "red line" for national security, Erdoğan told the provincial chairpersons of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) at a meeting at the party headquarters in Ankara.

The president said his words should be taken as a final warning, although Turkey has no intention to enter into a conflict with anyone.

Erdoğan also slammed the U.S. and their flow of weapons and supplies to the People's Protection Units (YPG) terror group, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK which is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU and NATO. The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state for the last 40 years in a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives. Erdoğan said that it is not reasonable for the U.S. to choose a dark organization over Turkey.

The YPG is the dominating group in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls almost all the territory in the east of the river comprising some one-third of the territory of Syria, except for the Assad regime-controlled area near Deir el-Zour and the Daesh-held area near the Iraqi border.

The SDF also controls the districts of Manbij and Tabqah on the right bank of the river.

Manbij has been a major sticking point in relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which were strained over a number of issues including the U.S.' support for the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which launched the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and its leader Fetullah Gülen's presence in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Turkey considers the YPG's presence on its border with Syria, with Manbij in particular, a grave threat to its national security. Manbij lies northeast of Aleppo and just south of the Turkish border.

Turkish troops and their allies the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have captured bordering Jarablus, al-Rai and al-Bab districts from the Daesh terrorist group through Operation Euphrates Shield launched in Aug. 2016. While Daesh terrorists were on retreat, the YPG also advanced to Manbij through a bridgehead and captured the town.

The Turkish military and the FSA also cleared the Afrin district from the YPG in Operation Olive Branch launched in Jan. 2018.

After Turkey and the U.S. agreed on a deal that focuses on the withdrawal of the YPG terrorist group from the city in order to stabilize the region and conduct joint patrols, the terror group has instead stepped up its presence and activities in the area.

The terrorist group has completed the construction of trenches and embankments in areas surrounding the entire city center as if it has no intention of leaving.

Erdoğan said that in wake of Sept. 17 deal, signed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, there were no problems in Idlib, and there was peace in the region.

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