Erdoğan renews threat of military offensive in northern Syria

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday renewed threats of a military offensive in northern Syria, which he said would target Kurdish “terrorists,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“We are taking another step in establishing a 30-kilometer security zone along our southern border. We will clean up Tell Rifat and Manbij,” he said, referring to two northern Syrian cities.

Erdoğan said they would then proceed, “step by step, into other regions.”

For a week now, Turkey’s leader has been threatening to launch an operation against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

He is also targeting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish group Turkey considers to be part of the PKK.

“We will see who supports the legitimate security operations carried out by Turkey and who tries to oppose them,” said Erdoğan.

He warned over the weekend that Turkey would not wait for “permission” from the United States before launching such an operation.

Washington last week warned Turkey against launching a military operation into northern Syria, saying it would undermine regional stability and put US forces serving there at risk.

Erdoğan on Tuesday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that a 2019 agreement signed between the two countries allowed for the creation of a security zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.

He has also opposed the recent applications of Finland and Sweden for NATO membership, over what he considers their leniency toward Kurdish militant groups.

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