Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

President Erdogan: Turkey will relaunch Syria operation if Kurds don't withdraw

Kurdish forces have not left Syria's border with Turkey as promised, the president said

President Erdogan said Turkey would not hesitate to relaunch its operation if the Syrian Kurdish fighters do not fully evacuate the 30 kilometre area in north-eastern Syria or continue attacks against Turkish troops.AP 
President Erdogan said Turkey would not hesitate to relaunch its operation if the Syrian Kurdish fighters do not fully evacuate the 30 kilometre area in north-eastern Syria or continue attacks against Turkish troops.AP 

Kurdish forces have not completed their withdrawal from Syria's border with Turkey, meaning there could be another operation to remove them, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

Speaking during a televised speech to parliament, Mr Erdogan said that the Syrian Democratic Forces had not withdrawn 30 kilometres from the north-eastern Syrian border as agreed under last week's agreement with the Kurdish forces and Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The president said that Turkey "reserves the right to carry out another operation" if the area is not cleared or if its forces come under attack.

Kurdish forces were given a 150-hour deadline, which expired at 7pm UAE time on Tuesday.

Russian authorities had informed Ankara that 34,000 fighters as well as heavy weaponry had been withdrawn from the area, which Turkey proposes as a "safe zone". It says the buffer is required to protect its territory from having a "terrorist corridor" on its border.

Joint Turkish-Russian patrols will begin in the area on Friday, Turkey’s president said Wednesday.

Ankara considers the People's Protection Units, which forms the majority of the SDF, to be affiliated with a Kurdish militant group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives moved to recognise the Armenian genocide committed between 1915 and 1923, and called for sanctions on arms sales to Turkey due to it's incursion into Syria, which began on October 9.

Mr Erdogan condemned the decision, saying it was "worthless", and adding that "there is a big question mark” regarding his scheduled trip to the US on November 13.

"We are not guided by money or oil, but rather by freedom," he said, referring to the US decision to keep US troops in Syria to protect oil facilities.

Updated: October 30, 2019 07:10 PM

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