Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that his army was ready to launch operations against Kurdish militants in Syria at any moment following the US announcement that it would not stand in the way.
“There is a phrase that we always say: we can come any night without warning,” Erdogan told reporters in televised remarks.
“It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups,” he said, referring to Kurdish militants.
The White House on Sunday said Turkey would “soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation” in northern Syria.
It also said Turkey would be “responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years.”
Erdogan said he would work with European governments to deal with foreign ISIS prisoners in the region.
“There are (ISIS prisoners) from France, Germany, other countries. They say ‘We don’t want to have control over them,’” Erdogan said.
“We can’t look after them. What can be done about this? They are going to work on that and I instructed our colleagues to work on that too,” he added.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) says a Turkish attack against them could reverse years of successful operations to defeat ISIS and allow some of its surviving leaders to come out of hiding.
The SDF holds thousands of ISIS fighters and their families in prisons and informal settlements across northern Syria.
It has been a key US ally against ISIS but is seen by Ankara as a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkish territory.
Turkey will provide services to the areas it takes from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in northeast Syria, Erdogan’s communications director said on Monday.
In a tweet, Fahrettin Altun said that Turkey’s two previous operations into Syria showed it can deliver a governance model and security for all Syrians, and added that Ankara’s primary goal was to combat militants and prevent the resurgence of ISIS.