Turkey ready to fight terrorism after US leaves Syria: Erdoğan

Turkey ready to fight terrorism after US leaves Syria: Erdoğan

ANKARA
Turkey ready to fight terrorism after US leaves Syria: Erdoğan

Turkey is ready to assume counter-terrorism role after the U.S. leaves Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 7.

"Turkey is ready to take over responsibility in fight against terrorist groups in [Syria] areas which the U.S. will withdraw from," state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdoğan as saying during his address at the meeting with U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American-Turkish Council members in presidential complex in Ankara.

"The recent initiative that Trump took in Syria ruined the plans of those who are trying to axe the Turkey-U.S. relations," Erdoğan said.

Turkey is "determined" to fight against all terrorist groups, particularly the ISIL, threatening itself, the region and the world, he added.

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Reiterating his call for distinguishing the Kurds from the illegal PKK, and PYD which is deemed as its offshoot in Syria, Erdoğan said identifying those groups with local residents is a "biggest insult" against the Kurds.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. However, the PYD has been supported and armed by the U.S. in the fight against the ISIL in Syrian territories.

"Our Kurdish brothers, who are now fleeing Daesh [ISIL] attacks and PKK/PYD persecution, shelter only in Turkey," Erdoğan said.

He added 23,000 trucks loaded with weapons and ammunition were recently brought to the PYD’s armed wing YPG in northern Syria.

"However, the U.S. still does not accept them as a terrorist organization," Erdoğan said, referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the YPG but also includes some fighters from other ethnic backgrounds. 

On a possible safe zone in northern Syria, Erdoğan reiterated he supports the idea of establishing a “terror-free zone” for refugees to safely return home.

He also called for establishing container cities for refugees in Syria's safe zones.

When Trump proposed the idea of a safe zone in northern Syria, U.S. officials demanded Turkey guarantee that it will not conduct an operation against the YPG - a request Turkey has strongly opposed.

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Syria, United States, withdrawal