Turkish troops are expected to enter the area east of the Euphrates River very soon, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
“I hope no one will try to test Turkey’s determination to clear its Syrian borders of terrorists,” Erdoğan said, speaking at an event in the eastern city of Muş to mark the 948th anniversary of Battle of Malazgirt.
Ankara considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody insurgency in Turkey’s Southeast for decades.
Erdoğan also warned of any stalling east of the Euphrates River, saying that Turkey is “fully prepared to execute its own plans,” referring to a deal with the US for establishing a safe zone in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria.
Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria since 2016 — Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch – to rid the region of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the YPG.