Erdoğan says to press on with Turkey’s military operation in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria would continue until the region was fully cleared of terrorists and Turkey would not withdrew from the region as long as other countries’ forces remained, pro-government Sabah daily reported on Friday.

Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria on Oct. 9 against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The offensive named Operation Peace Spring ended in nine days after Turkey made two separate deals with the United States and Russia for the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia 30 km south from the Turkish-Syrian border.

“Absolutely,” Erdoğan said when asked by reporters whether the operation would continue. “We will not stop until the last terrorist leaves that region,” he said. “Secondly, unless all other countries leave the region, we will not leave it either.”

The president said Turkey was respecting the territorial integrity of Syria, adding that other countries should also prove that they were doing the same. 

Erdoğan said neither Russia nor the United States had effectively fulfilled their promises over the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters. Russia has been acting together with the Damascus government, which has struck a deal with the YPG, the president said. 

Erdoğan said the SDF had also remained in an area between northeastern Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn, despite the U.S. brokered deal. 

“We know what has been going on through our intelligence,” he said. 

The president said the YPG had continued attacks against the Turkish military and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and was present in the northeastern town of Tal Tamr, a place known as a mainly Christian area.