New operation in Syria still on agenda: Turkish President

Launching a new military operation into northern Syria is on Turkiye’s agenda as long as its security concerns are not met, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said following his meetings with leaders of Iran and Russia.

“A new operation will continue to be on our agenda as long as our national security concerns are not resolved,” Erdogan told reporters on his flight from Iran to Turkiye, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Turkish President stressed that he raised the issue during a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying on Wednesday.

“We want Russia and Iran to be on our side in the fight against terrorist organizations, 30 km south of the border. On this, they should give us the necessary support,” Erdogan said.

“I think that we are not in a different view about the issue of PKK/YPG,” he said.

In 2017, Iran, Turkiye, and Russia launched a joint monitoring body to enforce the UN resolution on the peace process in Syria.

Since May, Erdogan has been talking about Turkiye’s plans to launch a new military operation in Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in an effort to link up two areas already under Turkish control in the northern region near the Turkish border.

He said the aim is to create a 30-km safe zone along the Turkish border with Syria.

Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkiye, the United States, and the European Union. The PKK has been rebelling against the Turkish government for over 30 years.

Erdogan also stressed the troops of the US should leave the western side of the Euphrates, and this was the common understanding of the last summit with the Russian and Iranian leaders.

Turkiye was in the same opinion because the US was giving support to the “terrorist organisations there”, he said.

“Since America is harboring terrorist organisations and we are fighting against these terrorist organisations, our work will be easier as soon as it withdraws from there or if it does not harbor these organisations,” he added.

Turkiye had said earlier it would not tolerate the YPG presence on the western side of the Euphrates, declaring it a red line.

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