Turkey's patience with US over safe zone in northern Syria running out: Erdogan
Iran Press TV
Tue Oct 1, 2019 06:48PM
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's patience with the United States over the creation of a so-called safe zone in the northeastern part of Syria by the end of the current month is running out, indicating that Ankara would launch an imminent cross-border offensive to push back militants from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from border areas.
"We have not achieved any of the results we desired in the east of the Euphrates. The only reason of our existence in Syria is that the terror threat towards our borders has turned to a barrier preventing the return of the Syrians," Erdogan said at the parliament's opening ceremony in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.
He added, "At the current stage, we have no other choice other than to proceed on our own path. We have tried every path. We have been extremely patient. We cannot afford to lose a single day."
"We plan to settle two million people in the safe zones we will establish. We calculated the costs and we will carry out efforts to improve. We will start taking steps as soon as the region is saved from the invasion of terror," the Turkish president said.
Erdogan added that Turkey aimed to host an "international donors meeting" to get funding for its plans in the area, accusing Western countries of deliberately refusing to share the refugee burden, saying they did so "to bring our country to its knees.
"I am asking you: Is Turkey a weak country that can accept such an imposition, blackmailing and vile game?" he commented.
Erdogan has given the US until the end of the current month for concrete results on the development of a purported safe zone on Turkey's border with Syria.
On September 10, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States was stalling attempts to establish such a zone, reaffirming that Ankara was ready to act on its own if necessary to confront YPG militants.
"Yes, there are some joint patrols but other than that, the steps that have been taken or the steps that are said to be taken are cosmetic steps," he told reporters at the time.
"We are seeing that the United States is entering a stalling process ... and that it is trying to get Turkey accustomed to this stalling process," he added, arguing that Washington's approach has so far served the YPG more than Turkey.
Turkey's Defense Ministry announced the start of the joint US-Turkish ground patrols east of the Euphrates in northeastern Syria in a post published on its official Twitter page on September 8, and said the patrols are being supported by unmanned aerial vehicles.
Syria strongly condemned the decision on the same day, arguing that the move constitutes a blatant violation of international law and the Syrian sovereignty.
"The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the US administration and the Turkish regime for conducting joint patrols in the Syrian al-Jazirah region, which is in flagrant violation of the international law as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria," an unnamed official source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates told Syria's official news agency SANA at the time.
The source said the Syrian Arab Republic, while reiterating its rejection of the so-called safe area, dismisses all projects aimed at undermining the unity and territorial integrity of the country.
The patrols came after Turkey and the US reached an agreement on August 7 over the establishment of a joint operation center in the northern part of Syria, in the wake of Ankara's threats to launch an operation against YPG militants to push them away from the Turkish border.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria, and has stressed that it wants the YPG cleared from the region.
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