Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced that he will start a military operation east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria in a “few days”. The operation could further complicate already strained relations with the United States, which has troops stationed in the area currently controlled by Kurdish forces.
According to Al-Jazeera Erdogan in a speech televised live said, “We will start the operation to clear the east of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a few days. Our target is never US soldiers”.
It must be noted that the US is supporting Kurdish forces east of the Euphrates, where People’s Protection Units, or YPG, troops have been fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
Turkey is frustrated over delays in the implementation of a deal with the US to clear the YPG from the town of Manbij, located west of the Euphrates in YPG-controlled areas. It wanted the agreement on Manbij to be fully carried out by the end of the year, followed by joint patrols by Turkish and US troops in northern Syria.
In January, Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched Operation Euphrates Shield in the Afrin district in northern Syria in an attempt to remove the Kurdish fighters, who it claims are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).