Turkey's preparations and deployments for its planned military operation in northeastern Syria are continuing, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday, as Turkish officials continued making contacts with relevant parties regarding the upcoming operation.
Commanders are closely following the developments regarding the upcoming operation, Akar told the audience at the National Defense University's Air Force Academy.
Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien later held a phone call to discuss Turkey's operation in northeastern Syria and the steps to be taken following the establishment of a safe zone there.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reiterated that Turkey's only target is terrorists.
"We will contribute to Syria's territorial integrity," Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the operation in northern Syria is Turkey's right under U.N. resolutions and international law.
He noted that Ankara will inform Syria, the United Nations and others about the operation in northern Syria.
Washington paved the way for the long-planned Turkish operation into the area east of Euphrates against the People's Protection Units (YPG) after the White House said Sunday the U.S. military would be withdrawing from northern Syria.
The statement followed a phone call between Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, during which a November meeting was planned, according to Turkish presidential sources.
President Erdoğan confirmed Monday that U.S. troop withdrawal from northern Syria had begun, and the operation against the YPG terror group was imminent before his departure to Serbia.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
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 YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization.