Turkish President Erdogan said deals with US and Russia on YPG/PKK withdrawal from northeastern Syrian border with Turkey had not been implemented. He added he would discuss the issue with his counterparts, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Turkey's President and leader of Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets party members at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on November 5, 2019.
Turkey's President and leader of Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets party members at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on November 5, 2019. (AFP Archive)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the US was not fulfilling its pledge to remove YPG/PKK terrorists from the Turkey-Syria border region and that he will raise the issue when he meets President Donald Trump next week.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on October 9, aiming to eliminate YPG/PKK from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders and aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees.

The operation saw Turkey taking control of a 120-kilometre swathe of territory as the country reached a deal with the US to keep the YPG/PKK out of the area. It was followed by the killing of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a US raid in northern Syria.

Erdogan is set to discuss the implementation of the agreement with Trump in Washington on November 13 after confirming that the visit would go ahead.

"While we hold these talks, those who promised us that the YPG ... would withdraw from here within 120 hours have not achieved this," Erdogan said speaking to reporters before leaving on a visit to Hungary.

Turkish officials had previously said Erdogan might call-off the US visit in protest against the US House of Representatives vote to recognise the clashes with Armenians a century ago as "genocide" and to seek sanctions on Turkey.

After the deal with Washington, Ankara also reached an agreement with Moscow under which the YPG was to withdraw to a depth of 30 km along the entirety of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey.

But Erdogan said this deal had also not been fulfilled, with YPG terrorists still in the border strip, adding that he would hold talks with President Vladimir Putin soon on the issue.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organisation. 

In its 30-year terror campaign against the Turkish state, more than 40,000 people, including women and children, have been killed.

Turkey, the US and the EU recognise the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

Baghdadi's inner circle trying to enter Turkey

The Turkish president also said members of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's "inner circle" were trying to enter Turkey from Syria.

He said the number of people with family ties to Baghdadi who've been caught by Turkey "is close to reaching double digits."

Turkey is facing criticism that its military offensive to drive the YPG militants from northeast Syria would allow for a Daesh resurgence.

Erdogan and Turkish officials revealed Wednesday that Turkish police detained one of Baghdadi's wives and a daughter last year.

This week, Turkish authorities said they captured Baghdadi's elder sister, her husband, daughter-in-law and five children in Syria.

Clashes in Syria 

Erdogan also said clashes in Syria were continuing, with 11 fighters from the opposition Syrian National Army (SNA) killed on Thursday.

"These terrorists are attacking the SNA, and the SNA is retaliating in kind. There are 11 martyrs from the SNA this morning. Many more were killed on the other side," he said.

Under the two bilateral deals, Ankara stopped its offensive in return for the withdrawal of the YPG militants. Turkish and Russian soldiers have so far held two joint patrols near the border to monitor the implementation of their agreement.

Turkey slams UEFA for military salute probe in football

Erdogan also condemned UEFA on Thursday for their discriminatory treatment of Turkish national team and clubs over celebratory salutes saying that European football's governing body should be aware of this wrongdoing.

"When it comes to Turkey and Turkish athletes, the attitude [of UEFA] changes," Erdogan said, adding that Europe's football body should not let sports be politicised with their wrong decisions.

He said that the UEFA action targeting Turkish athletes who showed solidarity with the Turkish army is a reflection of "obvious unlawfulness" as it described the athletes' salute as "provocative political behaviour".

Turkish players in all sports, especially football, have been celebrating by a salute in tribute to the Turkish soldiers engaged in Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.

Erdogan also referred to French football star Antoine Griezmann's celebratory salute at French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow after Les Bleus' success in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Barcelona forward faced no UEFA probe.

In October, UEFA launched an inquiry after the EURO 2020 qualifiers in Istanbul and France, where Turkish players gave military-style salutes in celebration of goals.

This probe was requested by France.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies