Despite Erdoğan’s promise to postpone, minister says Turkey preparing for attack on Syrian Kurds

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. AFP PHOTOS

Preparations for a military operation in Syria east of the Euphrates River are proceeding as planned, Turkey’s defense minister said on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, although President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had signaled a postponement of the offensive.

Hulusi Akar also said talks would be held with US officials in the coming days on the roadmap for Manbij, Syria.

“Intense work on the Manbij roadmap is ongoing,” Akar told reporters ahead of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in the capital of Ankara.

Turkey and the US agreed to complete the Manbij roadmap before the US completes the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said earlier on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said a cross-border operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria would happen soon. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.

US President Donald Trump last week made the surprise announcement that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria. The action followed Trump’s phone call with Erdoğan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the war-torn country.

However, Erdoğan said Turkey would postpone its military offensive targeting Syrian Kurds after the phone call.

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