Turkey threatens to launch military operation against US-backed SDF in Syria

Turkey threatens to launch military operation against US-backed SDF in Syria
Turkey has threatened to launch a military operation against US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters if a safe zone is not established.
2 min read
22 July, 2019
The SDF is a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance of fighters [Getty]

Turkey threatened on Monday to launch a military operation in east of the Euphrates, a bastion for US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, if a safe zone is not established in Syria.

"If the safe zone is not created, the threat emanating from this area continues and terrorists are not cleared, then we would start the operation," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s TGRT television in an interview.

The Turkish official, however, said that Ankara hopes to reach an agreement with US, whose Syria Envoy James Jeffrey is on a two-day visit in Turkey for a critical round of talks.

Turkey suspects that Trump’s administration backs People's Protection Units (YPG) to self-rule east of the Euphrates River in Syria and uses the militia as a proxy force to defend US interests in the region.

Ankara accuses the YPG of being a front for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought an on-off campaign against Ankara since the 1980s.

The situation of having hostile Kurdish armed groups, protected by the US and growing in strength close to its borders, has become an existential issue for Ankara and seen the Turkish armed forces intervene in Syria against the YPG and IS.

Ankara is currently embroiled in an entrenched diplomatic dispute with Washington over the Russian S-400 defence system.

Earlier this month Turkey announced it was planning to deploy the controversial system in the capital Ankara, which prompted Washington to threaten sanctions on Ankara.

On Wednesday, the US kicked Turkey out of NATO's F-35 stealth fighter jet program, in a move that was blasted as "unfair" by Turkey.

"This one-sided step neither complies with the spirit of alliance nor is it based on legitimate reasons," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

"It is unfair to remove Turkey, one of the partners in the F-35 programme," the ministry said, as it dismissed claims the Russian S-400 system would be a danger to the F-35s.

Relations between the NATO allies have deteriorated since Ankara's purchase of S-400.

The Turkish ministry called on the US to show the importance of the Ankara-Washington relationship "not just through words but through action and especially in the fight against terrorist organisations."

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab