Turkey is the only country fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), said the country’s vice president, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
“We fought [ISIL] directly in the field,” Fuat Oktay said, referring to Turkey’s military campaigns in northern Syria in 2016 and 2018.
Although Ankara said these operations targeted ISIL in addition to Kurdish militia, many experts asserted that there were no ISIL militants in Kurdish-held towns in Syria.
Hosted by Anadolu’s “Editors’ Desk” program, Oktay also said the Turkish army was ready to launch a promised military offensive east of the Euphrates River.
“Turkey will do what is necessary, and it will never allow any terrorist presence or threat there,” he said.
“If there is a threat, we say: ‘We’re ready. We’ll do it in Manbij [Syria] as well’,” he added.
Ankara sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
“One of the main actors in this region, the US, announced their withdrawal. This is a development that will change the rules of the game,” Oktay said.
He said the US would withdraw from the region in coordination with Turkey, as President Donald Trump told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.