Turkey to take matters into own hands in Syria

Both Russia and the United States have failed to keep their promises to Turkey in northern Syria, leaving Turkey to take action on its own, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a press event on Wednesday.

“As these terrorists are present there and have increased their attacks, what are we to do? Cut our own umbilical cord. We will do whatever is necessary to clear these regions of these terrorists,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The minister was referring to the parts of northern Syria covered by Turkey’s 2016 Operation Euphrates Shield, namely the area between the River Euphrates and the city of Azaz in the Aleppo province.

The United States was supposed to move “terrorists in this area at least 30 km to the south”, Çavuşoğlu said, while Russia was to clear Tel Rifat and Manbij, Çavuşoğlu said. “Russia and the United States share responsibility in attacks against civilians and us in this area,” he added.

Çavuşoğlu said the United States’ condemnation of attacks was “for show”.

“Who provides these weapons? Who trains these? You give weapons, you provide training, then you make a condemning statement, for show. The insincerity is clear here,” the minister said.

Turkey fights against the Islamic State, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, Çavuşoğlu said. “Each of our actions against PKK/YPG, like our actions against ISIS, is also important for Syria’s border and territorial integrity. We are fully determined, we are doing whatever is necessary.”

The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey and the United States. Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, however, the majority Kurdish Syrian organisation has acted as the primary boots on the ground in the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price expressed condolences for Turkish police officers killed in an operation in Syria and called for a stop to cross-border attacks.

Çavuşoğlu said Ankara had been giving suggestions to the Taliban administration in Afghanistan, and that he would visit the country soon to relay suggestions for an inclusive administration and the establishment of stability in person.

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