ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey expects US President Donald Trump to keep his promise to withdraw US troops from Syria in the near future, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
“We hope that this promise will be fulfilled in the near future. We do not like to live under threat and we are close to doing everything we need to eliminate it,” Erdogan said to the Turkish broadcaster TRT.
The area in northern Syria, according to the Turkish president, should be controlled by Turkey. Erdogan said his government is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure security in the area.
In December, Erdogan announced that Ankara was ready to launch a military operation with Turkish forces on the eastern Euphrates River as well as in Manbij, Syria, near the border with Turkey against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party terrorist organization, if the US did not remove its military from the site.
The Turkish leader said later that he decided to postpone the start of the military operation in Syria after coming to an understanding with Trump during a telephone conversation on December 14, during which the US president also said he intended to withdraw US troops from Syria.
Weeks ago, Turkey even warned the Syrian Army to not enter the northern areas of its own country, demonstrating the hegemonic ambitions of the country.
“Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) should not be allowed to let the forces of [Syrian President Bashar Assad’s] regime enter Manbij,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told a news conference on Friday. He also stressed that “withdrawal of US troops from Syria should not help the terrorists of the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).”
Ankara has always denounced US support for the YPG, especially as Washington recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization.