Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized in a press conference on Tuesday their nation’s plans to launch strikes against the American-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“We will never hesitate in eliminating terrorists from our border even though the YPG agreed with the Syrian regime and they will control the area together. Our duty is to eliminate this threat on our national security by whomever this terrorist organization is being controlled,”Hurriyet Daily
At issue, in theory, is the association between the YPG and the known terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey has declared the two groups to be interconnected, and therefore a valid target for attack. The United States, as well as Israel, Iraq and EU allies, reject the purported associations and the terrorist designation.
Turkey’s Erdogan has been assuming more direct control over the national government. Pro-independence Kurds from the Iraqi lands bordering Turkey have become regular targets of the Turkish military, with regular illegal operations into Iraqi territory. They are promising to conduct a large-scale action into Syria against the YPG, in that fashion.
“We are in the waiting process with regard to this operation after the withdrawal decision. We will have a working group meeting with the U.S. on Syria on Jan. 8. Talks between the two militaries are also underway. We are therefore in a waiting process but we are in talks about its timing,”Hurriyet Daily
The YPG are the primary anti-Assad group in Syria, and have been the main local ally of the United States. U.S. troops have been advising and training YPG soliders.
France, which pledged to continue their support despite the United States retreat, was directly addressed by the Foreign Minister:
“If France is staying to contribute to Syria’s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone.”France 24
After the decision to pull American troops from Syria, Erdogan has invited President Trump to visit Turkey at some point in 2019. Per Reuters, Erdogan is immediately seeking a meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia to coordinate efforts in Syria following the U.S. withdrawal.