Terrorists still in planned safe zone in northern Syria: Erdoğan
Turkey will abide by deals it made with the United States and Russia as long as those two nations keep their promises for the withdrawal of the YPG from the Turkish border, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Nov. 5.
“We abide by a memorandum made with the United States but on one condition. This applies if our interlocutors fulfill their promises,” he said, addressing his party members in the parliament.
He said YPG members are still present in several areas and are attaching Turkish troops. “We know that there are still terrorists in the planned safe zone. These areas have not been cleared of terrorists yet,” he said, noting that just Tuesday morning a Turkish soldier was killed trying to clear improvised explosive devices in Ras al-Ayn.
Turkey would not “remain a spectator” to these assaults, he added. “Turkey will continue its fight until the last terrorist is neutralized in Turkey, Syria and Iraq,” Erdoğan said.
Two agreements - brokered by the U.S. and Russia - halted Turkey’s military offensive into Syria to allow for the withdrawal of YPG members 30 kilometers, about 19 miles, away from the border.
Syria’s Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad were cleared of terrorists during Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring -- launched on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity. Ankara wants the YPG to withdraw from the region so that a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some 2 million refugees.
He also said that the West never opposed terrorist attacks targeting Turkey, including those committed by the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA in Turkey’s diplomatic missions abroad, which resulted in the deaths of several Turkish diplomats.
The Turkish president also criticized the U.S. attitude towards Turkey’s S-400 missile system purchase from Russia. “Linking the S-400s that we have purchased from Russia to the F-35 issue and notably sanctions and other issues make no sense,” said the president.
“I see such persistence as a new pretext towards hostility directed at our country,” he added. He emphasized that Turkey’s doors are open to the countries, “which are ready to talk, negotiate and compromise with Turkey on an equal basis.”
Erdoğan said he would have a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump before deciding to visit the U.S. on Nov. 13.