Ankara will soon launch a new military operation on ensuring security of its borders in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an address in Ankara on Tuesday broadcast live by Haberturk TV channel.
“Turkey cannot feel safe until it neutralizes the mounting threat posed by the allies’ weapons near its southern borders. I hope very soon we will switch to a new stage of fulfilling a plan, under which we have already conducted two operations, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch,” Erdogan said.
If Turkey failed to act now it would later “pay a high price,” Erdogan stressed, noting that Turkey’s security meant the security of NATO and the entire region.
The Turkish leadership started discussing a new military operation in Syria to the east of the Euphrates back in July. No timeframe of this operation has been reported. Currently, the territories to the east of the Euphrates are controlled by the US-backed Kurdish militias, which are branded as terror groups by Turkey. Ankara insists that Washington must stop helping these units, including by supplying weapons to them.
A US military delegation is currently on a visit to Turkey in order to discuss the prospects of creating a buffer zone in northern Syria by joint efforts, and this could meet some Turkish demands.
The discussion on setting up this zone started back in 2013. Several options were considered, including a no-fly zone and security zone on the Syrian territory for refugees. Ankara revisits this idea every year but it does not proceed any further for varying reasons.