Turkey won't allow safe zone to turn into terrorist swamp

Published 22.01.2019 00:17

Turkey will never allow the formation of a safe zone that will be turned into a new ground for terrorists, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.

Speaking at a Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Economic Council Meeting, Erdoğan said that when a safe zone is mentioned, it is planned as an area that is not against Turkey but against the terrorists.

Since 2012, Erdoğan has been suggesting that a safe zone of 30-40 kilometers could be established between the northern Syrian towns of Jarablus and al-Rai. However, the plan did not come to fruition at the time.

Last week, following a phone call between Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, the issue came to agenda once again and Turkey has since shown its determination to establish a safe zone in northern Syria.

While the establishment of a safe zone would eliminate some of Turkey's security concerns, the presence of the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and its plan to form a quasi-state will continue to present a threat to the country.

Reiterating his determination to ensure border security, Erdoğan said that Turkey is ready to cooperate with everyone that is willing to give logistic support.

Turkey wants to ensure security in Syria's Manbij and hand it back to the real owners of the city, Erdoğan said, highlighting the country's determination to protect Syria's territorial integrity.

"We have no eyes on anybody's land," Erdoğan told the economic conference in Ankara.

The president warned terrorist groups, including Daesh and YPG, planning to attack Turkey, saying that they will pay a "heavy price."

"We sincerely hope that our talks with the U.S., Russia and other actors end with a common understanding," Erdoğan said, adding that this does not mean Turkey will stand by idly and wait for terrorist groups to take over control of border areas.

Erdoğan continued by saying that things will go smoothly if everybody keeps their promises regarding Syria's Manbij and the safe zone near the border, but Turkey will otherwise take action and take steps in line with its own strategies.

Turkey has repeatedly stressed that the presence of the YPG along its borders poses grave security threats to the country. Furthermore, the U.S.' longstanding partnership with the terrorist group, under the guise of the fight against Daesh and its heavy arms support to the group, have opened deep wounds in ties with Turkey that are yet to heal.

Ankara has been underlining that it will not allow the YPG to strengthen its grip on Syria. Turkey was prepared to launch an operation east of the Euphrates to eliminate the YPG. However, following the U.S.' decision to withdraw its troops from Syria, Ankara decided to put the operation on hold temporarily.

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