Turkey has no patience or time regarding the safe zone in northeastern Syria and will have no choice but to put its own operation plans into use if its soldiers do not take control of the area in a few weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the National Defense University in Istanbul, Erdoğan expressed determination to carry out Turkey’s plans to establish safety along its border.
“If we do not start establishing the area with our own soldiers in the region within two or three weeks, we will have to implement our own plans,” Erdoğan said.
The president also said that Turkey has no intentions to give up its NATO membership or its allies, even though it has been left alone amid some problems.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a peace corridor running from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border to facilitate the return of displaced Syrians currently living in Turkey to their home country and provide security for Turkish border settlements and military outposts. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center. The agreement envisages the setting up of measures necessary to address Turkey’s security concerns.
The U.S., which has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization, still allies itself with the PKK offshoot YPG terrorists. The U.S. has primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in the fight against Daesh. Turkey strongly opposes the YPG’s presence in northern Syria, which has been a major sticking point in strained Turkey-U.S. relations due to the latter’s support for the YPG under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns.
To reduce tensions, Turkey and the U.S. agreed on a road map in June 2018, foreseeing the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij and installing joint Turkish-American patrols, which began last November. However, the process has been sluggish as the terrorist group was still present in the city despite the three-month timetable set for implementing the deal.