Euphrates Shield operation to continue in Afrin, Manbij: Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again said the time has come to counter militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) aiming to form a corridor along Turkey’s borders in northern Syria.
“We will complete the process that we launched with the Euphrates Shield Operation in Afrin and Manbij and we will guarantee peace and security on all our borders,” he said on Jan. 9 during his address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Reiterating long-running criticism of the U.S.’s support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Erdoğan blasted armed support to “terror organizations” in Syria and Iraq, saying “4,000 trucks of arms” were delivered to Syrian Kurdish fighters. He accused the U.S. of lacking “sincerity” in its relations with Turkey and said Ankara must therefore “stand on its own feet.”
Diplomatic ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained by several disagreements, particularly over the U.S.’s partnership with the YPG in the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) campaign.
Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey for over three decades.
Aid continued despite pledge U.S. President Donald Trump had on Nov. 24 told Erdoğan that he had issued instructions that the U.S. would no longer provide weapons to the YPG, according to a statement after the conversation from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
However, despite Trump’s pledge the partnership has continued, drawing ire from Ankara.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also touched on the independence referendum held in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in September, praising “the firm stance of the people of eastern Turkey” in not being drawn into the controversy.