Erdogan says Turkey ready for Syria incursion if safe zone fails

ISTANBUL (dpa)- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday reiterated his threat to launch a unilateral military offensive in Syria's north unless a "safe zone" is established jointly with the United States by the end of September.
Erdogan told a press conference in Istanbul that the Turkish army had "completed all preparations along the border" with Syria - both for the enforcing of a possible safe zone and potentially for a unilateral incursion should the joint safe zone fail.

His comments came ahead of his departure to the US for the UN General Assembly. They also follow reports on Friday that Turkey has sent doctors to two border towns to prepare for a potential incursion into Syria.
Erdogan insisted that Turkey does not want a confrontation with the United States in the region, but he continued to accuse the NATO ally of "backing terrorist groups."
Erdogan was referring to the US-backed Kurdish militia YPG in north-eastern Syria. The US sees YPG as a key ally in fight against Islamic State extremists in Syria.
Turkey and the US agreed in August to create a "safe zone" along the Syrian border with Turkey. Ankara wants the YPG militia pushed back from its own territory.
Preparations for the safe zone are underway: US and Turkish forces have so far conducted six joint aerial patrols and one combined ground patrol in the region. But it remains unclear who will be responsible for controlling the safe zone in the months to come.
Turkey and US are at loggerheads over a number of issues, including Ankara's purchase of Russian missile defence system S-400.
Erdogan said he would meet with US President Donald Trump in New York to also discuss the possible Turkish purchase of the rival US Patriot missile system.

Sunday, September 22nd 2019

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