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Ankara will not await US ‘permission’ for new Syria offensive

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Turkey will not wait for US “permission” to launch a new offensive in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in remarks published on Sunday, defying a warning from Washington, according to Agence France-Presse.

“One cannot fight terrorism while waiting for the permission of whoever,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists upon returning from a visit to Azerbaijan.

“What will we do if the United States does not do its part in the fight against terrorism? We will get by on our own,” he said.

Erdoğan’s talk of an offensive comes as he threatens to block the NATO membership of Finland and Sweden, which have sought to join the Western alliance out of alarm at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Erdoğan alleges there is support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the two Nordic states, which have launched talks with Ankara in a bid to ease its concerns.

The president said on Monday Turkey would soon launch a new military operation into northern Syria to create a 30-kilometre (19-mile) “security zone” along the border.

The United States on Tuesday warned Turkey against launching a new operation, saying the uneasy NATO ally would be putting US troops at risk.

Turkey has launched three offensives into Syria since 2016 aimed at crushing Syrian Kurdish fighters who assisted the US-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Ankara alleges these fighters are allied with the PKK.

The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Ankara and its Western allies, has waged a war against the Turkish state since 1984.

Erdoğan said Turkish, Swedish and Finnish talks in Ankara on Wednesday fell short of Turkey’s expectations.

He again accused the two Nordic countries of “supporting terrorism,” claiming that Sweden is neither “sincere” nor “honest.”

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