Erdoğan reiterates YPG warning over Syria’s Manbij
“If the terrorists do not leave Manbij in a couple of weeks, our wait will come to an end,” he said on Feb. 5 at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.
“Turkey will have the right to realize its own plans,” he added.
The president said he had not yet seen a concrete plan for the creation of a safe zone in northeastern Syria, three weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested establishing the zone. The president expressed satisfaction on his discussions with Trump, while criticizing technical talks with the U.S. for not being fruitful.
“There is no concrete plan that is put forth before us yet,” he stated. “Of course we are loyal to our agreements, our promise is a promise. But our patience has a limit.”
Turkey wants the zone to be cleared of the YPG, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group.
Turkey respects Syrians’ right to determine their own future, supports a new constitution and free elections in the country, the president also said.
Erdoğan, meanwhile, accused the European Union of seeking to overthrow embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro in defiance of “democracy.”
“First you will say ‘democracy’ and ‘ballot box,’ and later you will dare topple the government through violence,” he stated.
Major European powers including Britain, France, Germany and Spain on Feb. 4 recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president until new elections are held after Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call fresh polls.
Manbij is controlled by the YPG, which Turkey considers an offshoot of the illegal PKK. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU, and the U.S., however, Washington has widely used YPG militants in the fight against ISIL in Syria despite Ankara’s protests.
Turkey and the U.S. agreed on June 4 over a road map for the withdrawal of all YPG troops from Manbij to the east of Euphrates and for the establishment of a new city council by local Arabs, however, the deal has not been completely implemented.
On Dec. 19, Trump announced Washington’s decision to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Trump later said Erdoğan has assured him that Turkey will finish off ISIL.
Erdoğan signaled earlier this month that a cross-border operation against the YPG will happen soon. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria with the help of Free Syrian Army members.
Although a military operation seems to have been shelved for now following Trump’s surprise decision, Turkey has made clear that it will never tolerate the presence of the YPG on its borders even if it comes to an agreement with the Syrian regime to maintain control of the east of Euphrates River.