“We are cleaning Tal Rifaat and Manbij as terrorists. Then we will do the same, step by step, in other regions,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported that his country will intensify efforts to create “a safe zone 30 kilometers deep” along its southern border, for which it will launch new military operations in northern Syria. In order to combat terrorist threats in these regions, Ankara plans to start its operation in the Syrian towns of Tal Rifaat and Manbij (located in the Aleppo governorate), the president said in a speech on Wednesday.
“We are cleaning Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists. Then we will do the same, step by step, in other regions. Let’s see who supports these legitimate steps of Turkey and who hinders them,” Erdogan said.
The president did not go into details about the start date of that operation or the number of troops that will participate in it. However, last week, when he first announced his plans, he had indicated that they will be launched as soon as the military, intelligence and security forces have completed their preparations.2
According to the Reuters agency, Ankara has carried out four operations since 2016 large-scale military operations in northern Syria, mainly against the People’s Protection Units (YPG, for its acronym in Kurdish), an entity that Turkey considers terrorist. These cross-border actions have been criticized by their NATO allies, in particular the US, arguing that they put US troops at risk and undermine regional stability.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, reiterated on this same day his rejection of the measure proposed by Erdogan. “We continue to effectively fight the Islamic State inside Syria, and we don’t want to see anything that jeopardizes the efforts being made to continue to keep it in the box we put it in,” he said.