Turkey’s preparation for operation in east of Euphrates going as planned: Minister
“Everything has been planned and programmed. Everything is going according to it [the plan] and in line with the schedule,” Akar told reporters ahead of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara.
He also said talks will be held with U.S. officials in the coming days on a road map for Manbij, a city in northwest Syria.
“Work on the Manbij road map is continuing intensively,” the minister said.
He said Turkish military officials are in contact with their U.S. counterparts, adding that further information on the road map’s timetable will be released once it is settled.
Turkey and the U.S. agreed to complete the Manbij road map before the U.S. finishes the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu said earlier Dec. 25.
Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of an agreement that focuses on the withdrawal of the YPG from the city.
Turkey considers the YPG, supported by the U.S. in the fight against ISIL, as an offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
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.
Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.
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 decision followed Trump’s phone call with Erdoğan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for a more effective coordination over Syria.