Turkey to clear Tal Rifaat, Manbij of YPG: Erdoğan
Turkey will launch a new anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria in a bid to clear Tal Rifaat and Manbij provinces of the YPG terrorists, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, describing the new offensive as a new stage in Turkey’s efforts to create a 30-kilometer deep security zone in the Syrian territories.
“We are entering a new phase of our decision to create a 30-kilometer deep safe zone. We are clearing Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists,” Erdoğan told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group at a weekly address on June 1.
Turkey had already conducted four military operations in northeastern Syria, first against the presence ISIL and then against the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK. Turkey’s latest operation took place in late 2019 and created a safe zone in an area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn as a result of two memorandums of understandings with the United States and Russia.
The U.S. and other Western countries have been partnering with the YPG, under the name of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since 2015, despite Ankara’s strong criticisms. Turkey has recently been complaining about the increased terrorist activities by the YPG in northeastern Syria and urging Washington and Moscow to abide by the 2019 protocols.
Erdoğan announced Turkey’s new targets as Tal Rifaat and Manbij provinces, although the former is largely under the control of Russian military presence and the latter by the American troops.
“Our operations will gradually expand to other regions,” Erdoğan vowed, saying, “We will see who will support Turkey’s legitimate moves concerning its security and who will oppose them.”
Europe’s support to PKK
Erdoğan announced Turkey’s decision to launch a new anti-terror offensive at a moment when it is under pressure from the U.S. and prominent European powers for the admission of Sweden and Finland into NATO.
Criticizing almost all European countries by name, including France, Germany and Netherlands, as well as Sweden and Finland, for allowing the activities of the PKK in their countries, Erdoğan warned them to abandon this policy of supporting terror. A video showing the PKK activities in almost all European capitals was also shown at the parliamentary group meeting of the AKP.
“For us, those who are supporting these terrorists are no different from bloody-handed terrorists who slaughtered babies, children women and civilians,” he added.
On the talks with two Scandinavian states, Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey will not change its position until they shut down all the terror-related groups’ institutions and restrict their activities in a binding and written agreement.
Turkey suspends bilateral talks with Greece
Erdoğan also recalled Turkey’s growing disturbance over Greece’s provocative attempts and inflammatory rhetoric against Turkey, after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on U.S. congressmen not to approve the sale of F-16s to Turkey.
“We have suspended our High-Level Strategic Council mechanism with Greece. I have also told my foreign minister that we are cutting all our bilateral talks with Greece. Because we believe in honorable foreign policy. We cannot be together with those who lost their character,” he said.
This Greece will not come to reason, Erdoğan suggested, “Pull yourself together. Don’t you ever take lessons from history? Where were you in the past and where are you now? Then you start to cry and complain. Don’t try to dance with Turkey. You will get exhausted.”