President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would never allow implementation of a safe zone in northern Syria that will turn into “a swamp” like northern Iraq.
"We can never allow an implementation of a safe zone [to be established in northern Syria] to be transformed into another swamp against our country," Erdogan said at a meeting in the capital Ankara on Monday.
He said, however, that Ankara was not against the formation of a 30-km safe zone in northern Syria near Turkey’s border, adding the aim of a safe zone should be to keep terrorist organisations away from Turkey's border.
The president said Turkey has “no eye” on Syria's territorial integrity, adding he would also discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow in the upcoming days.
About a possible operation in the region east of the Euphrates River, Erdogan said almost all preparations have been completed and Turkey was ready to start the operation.
“I said this to President Trump, you give us logistical support and we will clean Daesh from the area. We will clean the other terrorists in this area as well,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan said Turkey would start taking necessary measures regarding Syria, if promises are not kept.
“If during the Obama [former US president] period the promises that were given were kept, we would have completed the necessary operations after olive branch and President Trump recognises these problems,” he said.
A mission east of the Euphrates River, which Turkey has been suggesting for months, would follow Turkey's two successful cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 — Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch — meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.
TRT World's Andrew Hopkins has more on the story.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
"Those who have carried out even a slightest attack on our country will pay a heavy price. In particular, Daesh, YPG, PYD, all of them will pay a heavy price," Erdogan said.