Turkey ready to turn its attention to east of Euphrates in Syria: president

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Armoured vehicles and soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces start to patrol between northern Syrian city of Manbij and Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield area on June 18, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey is determined to turn its attention and energy to the area east of the Euphrates rather than lingering on Manbij, the president said Friday according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“Turkey is being threatened through a terrorist group east of the Euphrates. We don’t threaten anyone and we won’t let anyone do things that threaten us right next to our border,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, referring the People’s Protection units (YPG), a Kurdish militant group in northern Syria.

The remarks came at a meeting with the provincial chairmen of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara.

He said the US had turned the Manbij deal between Ankara and Washington into a tool to stall Turkey.

The agreement calls for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the city of Manbij in northern Syria’s Aleppo province to stabilize the region.

Turkish authorities believe YPG is the Syrian branch of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Erdoğan also said Turkey had destroyed a terror corridor threatening its border with Syria and that any recreation of it would be “unacceptable.”

“It [the border with Syria] is our red line. It isn’t possible for us to allow this [creation of a new terror corridor] there,” he added.

On the Idlib deal between Turkey and Russia, Erdoğan said no problems had been encountered in the northwestern Syrian province since then.

“There is peace in the region,” he added.

At a Sept. 17 meeting in Sochi between Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

According to the terms of the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing a resumption of fighting.

“We have only one aim, which is to find a fair, sustainable, democratic political solution to the crisis in the region that will embrace everyone, from any sect and background, on the basis of Syria’s territorial integrity,” Erdoğan noted.

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