Turkey ‘intensely’ preparing for new operation in northern Syria: Minister
Turkey is preparing “intensely for a counter-terrorism military operation” in the Syrian town of Manbij and other parts of Syria, namely the east of the Euphrates River, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Dec. 20.
“We have Manbij and the east of the Euphrates ahead of us right now. We’re working intensely in this regard,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Akar as saying during his visit to Turkish forces deployed in the Qatari capital Doha.
“Whatever they dig, be it trenches or tunnels, when the time comes they will be buried in the trenches that they dug. There should be no doubt regarding this,” he added, referring to trench-digging activities closely associated with those of the PKK in southeast Turkey.
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.
Ankara has long complained about the U.S.’s support to the YPG in the fight against ISIL in northern and eastern Syria.
On Dec. 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a military operation could begin “in a few days” in the east of the Euphrates River, stressing that Turkey would never allow a “terror corridor” to be established along its border.
Turkey’s potential military operation looms as U.S. President Donald Trump announced Dec. 19 that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria as it had finally defeated ISIL in Syria.