Turkey Will Not Let US Prevent Ankara's Op East of Euphrates in Syria – Minister
ANKARA (Sputnik) – Turkey will not let the United States prevent its military operation in the Syrian territories, east of the Euphrates River, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday.
"[The United States] has tried to hamper us in northern Iraq, it tried to hamper us in Afrin, [Syria]. And now, it will try to hamper us east of the Euphrates. Turkey did not let it happen back then and we will not let it happen this time," Soylu told reporters during a visit to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, as quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
He pointed out that Turkey would overcome the possible international pressure on the country over the military operation east of the Euphrates.
"The US has thought that it could intimidate us by using the men it had nurtured. It tried to set an international encirclement but we have overcome it," Soylu added.
The statement was made after on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara was ready to launch an operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River. Commenting on that a day later, US Defense Department spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson told Sputnik that the Turkish unilateral military operation in northeast Syria, if launched, would be unacceptable and Ankara should consult with the United States to address the security situation.
Turkey and the United States have had tense relations in recent years, in part due to Ankara's concerns over US support for the YPG, which is viewed by the Turkish authorities as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Turkey has been claiming that the YPG's presence near its border threatened its national security. On January 20, Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition forces launched Operation Olive Branch in the northern Syrian district of Afrin aimed at "clearing" the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Turkey's Syrian border. In March, Ankara announced that Afrin was under the complete control of the Turkish forces.
Ankara is also currently engaged in an operation to eliminate Kurdish strongholds in northern Iraq.
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