Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey will put its own operation plan into effect if Turkish troops do not control a “safe zone” in northeast Syria, which it has been planning with the United States, within a few weeks.
“We do not have much time or patience regarding the safe zone which will be established along our entire border east of the Euphrates (river),” Erdogan said in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the National Defense University in Istanbul.
“If our soldiers do not control the region within a few weeks, we will put our own operation plan into effect,” he said.
He did not specify what the operation plan would entail, but he has previously warned that Turkey would mount a cross-border offensive on its own to clear the YPG militia from its border if necessary.
Turkey and the United States have set up a joint operation center for the planned safe zone along Syria’s northeastern border, but have been at odds over the size of the zone or the command structure of the forces to operate there.
President Erdogan vowed Turkey would not allow the US to delay the establishment of a “safe zone” in northern Syria, in comments published on Thursday.
Ankara and Washington earlier this month agreed after difficult talks to set up a buffer zone between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia.
Also on Friday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Norway that the Turkish military would leave Syria when a political solution is found, adding that the Syrian regime doesn’t believe in political solution for now.