Turkey’s operation in northern Syria to move different phase soon – Erdogan

We'II move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations [in northern Syria] forward to a different phase very soon, Turkey's President Erdogan says.

Turkey's counter-terrorism offensives will move forward to a different phase in northern Syria soon, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

We'II move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations [in northern Syria] forward to a different phase very soon, Erdogan told the 11th Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan also stressed that Turkey will pay a heavy price later if it does not do what is necessary in northern Syria today.

"If needed, Turkey will absolutely protect its national interests [in Syria] either via dialogue, soft power, coercive diplomacy instruments or realpolitik," he added.

Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometre (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria and has stressed that it wants the YPG/PYD terror group cleared in the region.

YPG/PYD is the Syrian offshoot of terror group PKK, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women and infants, for more than 30 years.

PKK is recognised as a terror organisation by the US, the EU, and Turkey.

Ankara and Washington have yet to hammer an agreement on the safe zone.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Ankara has "limited" patience and if efforts to find common ground with Washington fail, Turkey will have to create a safe zone in Syria on its own.

The Turkish president also said that Turkey is determined to eliminate PKK from Iraqi territory.

He called on the US: "We expect clear steps from the US over the extradition of FETO ringleader to Turkey and halting of arming of the PKK/YPG terror groups."

Procurement of S-400 'commercial', not 'strategic'

Erdogan went on to say that country's procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defence system was a commercial rather and strategic move, and criticised the US and EU for their biased reactions as they did not give the same response to the NATO members that previously bought S-300 system.

The attitude of Turkey's allies forced Turkish administration to buy Russian defence system, he added.

Although Turkey wanted to buy US Patriot missile system earlier, Washington did not respond positively when they were needed the most, according to Turkish officials, therefore Ankara initiated talks with Russia over the purchase of Russian S-400 defence system.

Erdogan also added that he does not believe that US President Donald Trump will allow ties between the two allies to become captive due to the dispute.

Since 2017, Turkey and the US have been at odds over Turkey's decision to buy the S-400 and the US threats to break its contract to sell Turkey F-35 fighter jets over the dispute.

The US claims the S-400 will be incompatible with NATO systems, an argument Turkey disputes.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that it is up to Turkey to make its own decisions on weapons systems purchases.

Source: TRT World and Agencies