Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed on Sunday to protect Syrian Kurds, saying that Turkey will not leave them alone in the face of oppression from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) after the US withdraws from Syria.
“We will not leave Syrian Kurds alone against PKK/PYD oppression,” Erdoğan said, adding that there are nearly 4 million Syrians living in Turkey from diverse backgrounds in an effort to support his promise.
Turkey considers both the PKK and PYD, a Kurdish political party in northern Syria, to be terrorist organizations.
On Friday Erdoğan said Turkey had decided to postpone a military offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militia after a phone call with US President Donald Trump.
“Actually, we announced our decision to launch the operation east of the Euphrates last week,” Erdoğan said at a business meeting in İstanbul.
He told the audience Trump had asked him on the phone whether Turkey could get rid of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We did it before, we can do it again,” Erdoğan said he answered.
According to Erdoğan, Turkey has killed around 3,000 ISIL militants in Jarabulus, a Syrian city in Aleppo province.
US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the fight against ISIL had been a complication in relations between the two NATO allies.
Turkey had previously conducted two military operations west of the Euphrates River, in the Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria.