"We will start the operation to clear the East of the Euphrates [river] from separatist terrorists in a few days," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, during a defence summit in capital Ankara.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduces the country's first indigenous multi-purpose helicopter T625 named as 'Gokbey' during the Turkish Defense Industry Summit at the Bestepe People's Congress and Culture Center of the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on December 12, 2018.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduces the country's first indigenous multi-purpose helicopter T625 named as 'Gokbey' during the Turkish Defense Industry Summit at the Bestepe People's Congress and Culture Center of the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on December 12, 2018. (AA)

Turkey will start an operation east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria in a "few days", President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday. 

"We will start the operation to clear the East of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a few days," said Erdogan during the Turkish Defence Industry Summit held at the Bestepe Presidential Palace Complex in capital Ankara.

He said Turkey's target has always been members of the "terror group."

"This step will allow for the path to a political solution to be opened and for healthier cooperation," Erdogan added.

'Grave concern'

A Pentagon statement on Thursday, however, said the unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party is of "grave concern" and such actions would be unacceptable.

Pentagon said the "coordination and consultation" between US and Turkey is only way to address issues of security concern in area.

It said US is committed to Turkey's border security but also Syrian Democratic Forces [largely made up of YPG terror group] remain a committed partner against Daesh.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah reports from Ankara.

Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria policy, where the US has backed the YPG, Syrian wing of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the US.  

Ankara has recently repeatedly voiced frustration about what it says are delays in the implementation of a deal with the US to clear the YPG from the town of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates.

TRT World speaks with journalist Selim Atalay.

Turkey said last month that it wanted the agreement on Manbij to be fully carried out by the end of the year. In November, Turkish and US troops began joint patrols in northern Syria.

TRT World's Turkey analyst Yusuf Erim has more.

Third such operation

The anti-terror operation in the east of the Euphrates, which Turkey's leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – which were both meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.

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