Turkey announced that it has reached the final stage of its preparations to launch a military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
Speaking at the 13th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara on Tuesday, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his country resorts to cross-border operations to protect itself from “terrorist organizations.”
He stressed that Ankara has no interest in seizing the land of other countries.
“We are taking care of 9 million Syrians and are making their lives easier. Some of them are in Turkey and others in Syria. We are now working on making regions safe for their return,” he explained.
In May, Turkey announced that it would pursue a full-scale military campaign in northern Syria to complete the establishment of safe zones near its borders. The said zones would extend 30 kilometers deep in Syrian territory.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed on Monday his country's determination to connect safe zones in northern Syria to each other.
He reiterated his threat to clear northeastern Syria of Kurdish-led forces, a reference to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group.
“We will continue our fight against terrorism. Our decision to establish a 30-kilometre-deep secure line along our southern border is permanent,” he told the same conference in Ankara.
Despite Erdogan’s threats, Turkey’s plans for a military campaign in Syria remains without international support.
The United States, which considers the Kurds a key ally in the war against ISIS in Syria, has warned against any Turkish military move, saying that it would pose a threat to the forces participating in the war against the terror group.
European countries also rejected any new Turkish incursion.
Meanwhile, Russia demanded that Ankara cooperate with Damascus instead of resorting to a military option.
Iran, another backer of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus, declared that any Turkish operation would play out in the interests of terrorists only, and would destabilize the region.
Turkish opposition parties also reject the operation and have been employing the issue ahead of next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections.
They have been using the Syrian refugee file to pressure Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party and demanding their return to their home in coordination with Damascus.