Turkey does not think its effort with the United States to establish a “safe zone” in northeast Syria will yield the results it wants and is ready to carry out a military operation, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Ankara and NATO ally Washington have agreed to establish a zone on the Syrian border that Turkey wants to be 30 kilometers deep and cleared of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which it sees as a terrorist organization.
Turkey says up to 2 million Syrian refugees can settle in the zone, but it has repeatedly warned of unilateral military action if efforts do not meet its expectations or are stalled.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Turkey had no choice but to act alone given the lack of progress made with the United States, in his most direct indication yet of a military incursion.
Speaking to broadcaster A Haber on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had not seen sincerity from the United States. “We think this ongoing process with the United States will not take us to the point we desire. The information coming from the field proves this,” he was quoted as saying by A Haber.
Ties between the NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, including Syria policy and the looming threat of U.S. sanctions over Ankara’s decision to buy a Russian missile defense system.
While diplomats, analysts and Turkey’s main opposition say Ankara would be unwilling to anger Washington with a full-scale military incursion as the allies try to repair strained ties, Turkey has been pressing for efforts to be stepped up.
US and Turkish troops have so far carried out half a dozen joint air missions over the zone in northeast Syria and two land patrols, but Washington has warned Turkey that unilateral action would not serve any country’s security or benefit. Çavuşoğlu reiterated Ankara’s warning that it was ready for an offensive.
“We must take steps to clear the terrorist organizations from our vicinity and return refugees there,” he said.