Turkey is about to act on its own to set up a planned safe zone in northern Syria as it is not satisfied with the cooperation it has received from the United States (US), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
Erdogan had set the end of September as a deadline for Turkey’s unilateral act to establish a safe zone if the joint works with the US could not progress.
Addressing Turkey’s parliament at the opening ceremony for the new legislative year in Ankara, Erdogan stated Turkey had no choice but to act alone.
“We acted in patience. But unfortunately, we could not reach the desired outcomes notably for the east of Euphrates. Turkey does not have even a single day to lose in that matter,” the president said.
After months of talks between Ankara and Washington, the two NATO allies in August agreed to set up a joint operation center in Turkey to monitor the safe zone, disagreeing however over the size and oversight of the zone.
Ankara eyes to establish the zone along 450km (280 miles) of the border, with 30km (19 miles) deep into Syria.
With the zone, Turkey plans to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees in the area, with Turkey clearing the area of the Syrian Kurdish militia People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a terrorist organization.
However, the US deems YPG an important ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
“One night, we may suddenly appear [in the region],” Erdogan told reporters while he was leaving the parliament, referring to a possible military incursion which had been repeated many times as a threat by the Turkish authorities.
Turkey previously carried out two military operations in 2016 and 2018, in a bid to dislodge Kurdish militia fighters close to Turkey’s southern border.
Following Erdogan’s remarks, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar echoed the same, saying preparations for another operation were complete.
“Developments, such as the YPG’s exit from the region, the removal of fortifications and the handing-over of heavy weapons, are not at the point we like. We are ready for the operation. It is no laughing matter,” Akar said.