Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Erdogan: US, Russia Have Not Complied with Understandings on East Euphrates Region

Erdogan: US, Russia Have Not Complied with Understandings on East Euphrates Region

Tuesday, 17 December, 2019 - 12:00
Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters gather as a military vehicle advances near the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria October 24, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again hinted at the possibility of resuming Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River.

He said the United States and Russia have not complied with the understandings reached to remove the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and establish a safe zone on Turkey’s southern borders.

Operation Peace Spring was launched in October 9 to eliminate Kurdish factions from northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River.

Erdogan said both parties could not expel members of the YPG, designated by Ankara as a terrorist organization, from northern Syria.

In an interview on Sunday, he said his country will work on its own and manage to eliminate the YPG threat, hinting at the possibility of resuming the operation.

He pointed to the continued presence of Kurdish units in Manbij, west of the Euphrates, despite the roadmap agreement signed between Ankara and Washington on June 4, 2018.

“The clans in that area have been asking Turkey to help them get rid of the terrorists’ injustice.”

Moreover, Erdogan said: “The US and YPG control oil wells in Deir Ezzor and are selling oil to the Syrian regime.”

He also spoke of oil wells run by the regime and Russia in Qamishli, adding that Ankara is not interested in the oil there but is concerned with the people’s security.

Erdogan said he had suggested spending oil revenues on the residents in the safe zone that we be set up in northern Syria, ensuring the return of refugees to their homes and offering them a decent life.

However, he has not received any response in this regard from both countries.

The West’s description of the YPG as a “Kurdish organization” is an insult to the Kurdish people, Erdogan went on to say, noting that Turkey does not consider Kurds as terrorists.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is designated by Ankara as a terrorist organization. The YPG is the largest component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers an extension of PKK in Syria.

Furthermore, Erdogan slammed the meeting held between officials from the US and Russia with commander of the SDF Mazloum Abdi.

In October 17, Turkey agreed to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture.

But if implemented it would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched the assault in October 9, namely: control of a strip of Syria more than 30 km (20 miles) deep, with the YPG forces obliged to pull out.

Editor Picks