Turkey is ready for an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to clear the region of terrorists, amid disappointment over the U.S.' efforts for the establishment of the planned safe zone.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in capital Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists.
"We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given. It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation," Erdoğan said.
"Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace," he added.
Turkey rid an area of 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations, Erdoğan said.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria – Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch – to purge the region of terrorist groups Daesh and the People's Protection Units (YPG), which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization.
However, a number of liberated cities – including Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz and Afrin – remain subject to sporadic terrorist attacks from Tal Rifaat.
"Turkey has to carry out and succeed in this operation [east of Euphrates] for both its national security and [to ensure] the return of Syrians in Turkey to their own country," he stressed.
Turkey has long complained about the threat of terrorists coming from east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, which neighbors its southern border, vowing to take a military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
Turkey made all kinds of warning to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan blasts those wasting Turkey's time
"We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the U.S. for safe zone], we see that all were just a tale," the president said.
U.S. and Turkish troops has carried out three joint ground patrol for the safe zone since Sept. 9.
While Turkey welcomes the joint patrols, it has also said the U.S. is not doing enough to set up the safe zone properly.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
"Turkey's question to its allies is clear," he said, "Do you recognize the PKK/YPG as a terrorist organization that you are trying to cover under the name of SDF?"
"We have not heard such a statement, and even some the U.S. officials publicly say the PKK is a structure with which the YPG is working together," he said.
The U.S., which considers the PKK a terrorist organization, changed the name of YPG – Syrian offshoot of PKK – to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in July 2017 in order to dissociate it with the PKK.
Washington has partnered with the YPG-led SDF in the effort to secure Daesh's defeat in northeast Syria, which has strained relations with Ankara.
Erdoğan signaled a military operation again to keep Turkey away from terror threat when he said that it is now end of talks with those wasting Turkey's time using diplomacy.
Turkey has long championed the idea of terrorist-free safe zones in Syria. It has stressed ridding the area of the terrorist YPG, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
FSA ready for a possible operation
Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, which took a role in operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, has preparing with a military training program for a possible operation east of the Euphrates.
Seyf Abu Bekir, a commander in the FSA forces, said that they have completed their preparations to clear the east of Euphrates from PKK and YPG terrorists.
"We are ready for the operation. We will establish a peaceful region by clearing there from PKK and YPG terrorists," he said speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA).