Turkey hasn't given up on future Syria operations: FM
Turkey may delay operation east of the Euphrates River, but it does not mean the country has given up on operations to be conducted in the future, Turkish foreign minister said on Dec. 21.
“It doesn't mean that we gave up on our determination and operations we will launch against the YPG in the future,” Mevlut Çavuşoğlu told Turkish state broadcaster TRT News in an exclusive interview during his official visit to Malta.
Turkey considers the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and European Union.
Çavuşoğlu said postponing the operation east of the Euphrates was a “logical” decision for preventing “friendly fire” in the region, following the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
He recalled that the U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal from Syria, after mentioning the decision to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call.
“We give great importance to territorial integrity of Syria. We won't back any activity that splits Syria and we will even stand against it,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Stating that the region needed stability as soon as possible, he noted that it was not possible unless the region is fully cleared of the YPG/PKK and ISIL militants.
“No country alone has neutralized over 4,000 Daesh [ISIL] terrorists like we [Turkey] did,” he noted, adding: “In the coming period, these kind of terror groups shouldn't take shelter in Syria and Iraq. Turkey is determined in this matter.”
Çavuşoğlu went on to say that there were three joint working groups between Turkey and the U.S.
“These three commissions will gather in Washington on Jan. 8,” he said, adding that they were going to discuss the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, and how to coordinate it together.
He added that they agreed with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo in a phone call to continue coordination.
On Dec. 19, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered all of the U.S. forces in Syria to withdraw from the country, saying ISIL’s defeat was his sole reason for being in the civil war-torn country.
The U.S. began its air campaign in Syria in 2014, deploying troops to the country to assist in the anti-ISIL fight alongside local partners the year after.
Reports have suggested U.S. forces will leave within 60 to 100 days.
The withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in the northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK.
Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in the northern Syria.