In the face of terror threats posed against its national security by the People's Protection Units (YPG) along its borders with neighboring Syria, Ankara has said it will no longer postpone taking steps to eliminate terrorist threats along its borders.
"We have pointed out very clearly that we are concerned about the terror corridor along our 911-kilometer-long borders with Syria. The name of the group has no importance as they all have links to the PKK. We will not wait until the moment they attack, but eliminate them where they exist," Vice President Fuat Oktay said yesterday, speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA). Oktay underscored that "Our fight on our borders will continue until the moment no element threatening Turkey is left."
The YPG is the armed wing of the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and constitutes the dominating force in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls one-third of Syrian territory.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and the EU, has carried out bloody attacks against Turkey for nearly four decades, causing the deaths of about 40,000 people.
Despite Turkey's repeated warnings, its NATO ally the U.S., has opted for partnering with the YPG in the fight against Daesh, claiming that they were "effective," disregarding the security threats against Turkey. The continuous support of the U.S. to the YPG has deeply damaged relations with Turkey.
Referring to previous actions like Operation Olive Branch and Afrin, Oktay stated that Turkey was urged to take necessary precautions as its partner had difficulty in understanding Ankara's concerns, and stressed that Turkey will continue to take steps towards ensuring its national security.
In relation to the Manbij road map reached with the U.S., Oktay said that the U.S. promised the withdrawal of the YPG/PKK, yet the process has been prolonged.
"Turkey does not have any further tolerance for these postponements," Oktay added.
The Manbij deal reached between Turkey and the U.S. in June focuses on the withdrawal of YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is in the northeast of Syria's Aleppo province.
On Friday, the Turkish National Defense Ministry shared footage of the first round of the Turkey-U.S. joint patrols in Manbij that was conducted as part of the deal between the two countries.
As the terror group is present just on the other side of the Turkish border, Oktay said it is therefore a great concern for Turkey and it has to respond to this.
He highlighted that previously the local people living in the neighboring districts were pushed toward Turkey in a very short time and terrorists settled in these areas.
"When you look at Tal Abyad, its population was Arab. In one night they were pushed toward neighboring Turkey's Akçakale district and the demography of Tal Abyad was changed," Oktay underscored. Oktay added that he personally witnessed the arrival of people during that time and stressed that Turkey welcomed these people, as they have no place to return and might face danger in Syria. "In one night we received 20,000-30,000 people. We are exerting all efforts to provide necessary living conditions for them," Oktay stressed.
Meanwhile, Turkey - which is not pleased with the process of implementation of the Manbij deal - has been recently targeting the threats east of Euphrates River as well as indicating that it will not wait until the Manbij deal is completed to target these threats to the east of the Euphrates, and is resolute in securing its southern borders.