Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu says military operation to Afrin may expand to Manbij and east of Euphrates River.
Turkey may expand its operations in northern Syria to Manbij city and east of the Euphrates River after Afrin has been cleared, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after a meeting with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Vancouver, Canada, late on Tuesday.
“Turkey’s precautions against YPG/PKK cannot be limited to only Afrin. There is also Manbij and east of the Euphrates River,” Cavusoglu said, adding the US plan to establish a border guard in northwest Syria “irreversibly harms US-Turkey ties.”
On Sunday, Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the US-led coalition against Daesh, announced plans to establish a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria with the SDF – a US-backed group drawn up largely of YPG/PKK terrorist elements.
TRT World's Andrew Hopkins reports.
US support for YPG
Turkey has long protested US support for the YPG, while Washington has ignored its status as a PKK offshoot, calling it a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria.
Listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years.
Some 40,000 people have been killed in the clashes mainly concentrated in Turkey's southeast, as well as various attacks elsewhere in the country.
"The promises made on Manbij and Raqqa have not been kept,” Cavusoglu said, referring to a promise by the US that local councils would run the cities after they were liberated, but the YPG/PKK took control.
“In the same way, the promises about the steps that need to be taken after [capturing] Raqqa have also not been kept," he said.
"The US has previously stated that the YPG/PKK was not their strategic partner, [that] in fact, they were only working together to defeat Daesh," he noted, urging the US to stop supporting the group and to retrieve its weapons as Washington promised.
"As we can see, we have so many reasons to be sceptical, and we have enough reasons to take our own precautions." he added.
Turkey has carried out two major operations in Syria.
In September 2016, it carried out Operation Euphrates Shield to stop the advance of the YPG militants and clear Daesh from the area.
Then in October last year, Turkish forces re-entered Syria. That was to establish the Idlib de-escalation zone agreed with Russia and Iran.
And now Ankara is planning to go into Afrin to tackle the YPG which also has control of the Euphrates and Jazira regions.