ANKARA: Turkey says there is no way it will back out of its plan to launch a military offensive in northern Syria regardless of the consequences, defying growing international calls to pull the plug on the imminent operation.
The Turkish parliament on Tuesday extended the government’s mandate to launch “anti-terror” operations in neighboring Iraq and Syria, effectively greenlighting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to press ahead with a vast incursion into northern Syria.
Erdogan says it is necessary to purge the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the region so that Turkey can create a safe zone where it will relocate millions of refugees.
The Kurdish militant group is the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF maintains close ties to the United States but Ankara regards the YPG as the military wing of Turkey’s homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for autonomy since the mid-1980s.
“Turkey will not accept a terror corridor or terror state right next to its borders under any circumstances, whatever the cost,” Vice President, Fuat Oktay, said late Tuesday.
He noted that Turkey prioritizes national security plans and could never be “controlled by threats.”
Turkish forces to enter Syria shortly
Turkish officials said on Wednesday that final preparations were already in place but that the incursion had not yet begun.They explained that Turkish soldiers had removed a concrete section of the border wall, according to Reuters.
On Tuesday night, Erdogan’s communications director said forces deployed to the border areas were ready to enter Syria at any moment. He claimed that the attack was aimed at neutralizing the remnants of the Daesh terrorist group.
“The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly,” Fahrettin Altun tweeted.
“YPG militants have two options: They can defect or we will have to stop them from disrupting our counter-ISIS efforts,” he said, referring to Daesh by an alternative acronym.