President Erdogan said despite the temporary delay, Turkey reserves the right to move against terrorists in northern Syria. The president said the delay should give the US time to follow through after Trump said he was pulling US troops from Syria.

Erdogan's announcement comes a day after President Donald Trump declared victory against Daesh and said that US troops would be pulling out of Syria.
Erdogan's announcement comes a day after President Donald Trump declared victory against Daesh and said that US troops would be pulling out of Syria. (TRTWorld)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced the postponement "for a little while" of a military operation planned against terrorists east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

"After our discussions with US President Donald Trump, we have decided to wait for a while before conducting the operation. But this doesn't mean we will wait forever," Erdogan told a conference of businesspeople in Istanbul.

He said Turkey would continue working on plans to "eliminate any remaining Daesh elements in the region."

"In other words, in the coming months, we will work to eliminate both PKK-PYD elements and Daesh remnants in Syria," the Turkish president said.

Erdogan's announcement came after Trump on Wednesday declared victory against Daesh and said US troops would be pulling out of Syria. 

That announcement has had a mixed reception, but analysts saw it as removing an obstacle to Turkey's struggle against terror because of US support for a terror group in Northern Syria.

Washington's troop withdrawal decision was welcomed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday as well as Russian President and Assad ally Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

The UK and France have said they will continue their operations in Syria. Israel says it will step up its security operations.

Preventing 'friendly fire' with US

Turkey's delay in launching the operation does not mean the country has given up on operations to be conducted in the future, Cavusoglu said.

"It doesn't mean that we gave up on our determination and operations we will launch against the YPG in the future," he said.

Cavusoglu said postponing the operation east of the Euphrates was a logical decision for preventing "friendly fire" in the region, following the US decision to withdraw troops from Syria.     

Previous operations

Turkey's planned anti-terror operation east of the Euphrates would follow two previous cross-border operations into Syria – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – which were both aimed at eliminating PKK-YPG and Daesh terrorists from Turkey’s borders.

The YPG is the PKK's Syrian branch and a point of contention between Turkey and the US since Washington is supporting the SDF in Syria, a coalition of anti-regime and anti-Daesh forces dominated by the YPG.

Turkey, the US and the EU recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation. More than 40,000 people, including women and children, have been killed since the PKK launched its violent terror campaign in Turkey in 1984.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies