Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu have said that Ankara can launch an operation into Syria against Kurdish fighters “at any minute.”
Speaking to Bloomberg, Kalın reiterated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent pledge to hit “terrorist” Kurdish groups in Syria, saying that a cross-border operation could begin “at any minute.”
A similar statement was made by Çavuşoğlu, who said that Turkey is making the necessary preparations for an operation.
“The phrase ‘at any minute’ has become our motto,” the top diplomat told broadcaster TV100 on Tuesday.
“We don’t care about what others say. It’s our duty to eliminate the threats against our country. It would also be politically beneficial because the operation is important in terms of Syria’s territorial integrity,” he said.
Turkey has in the past sent troops into northern Syria, intent on preventing a new wave of refugees heading toward its border and countering Kurdish fighters that Ankara sees as a threat.
Yet Turkish plans for another operation to push fighters further away from the border have run into opposition from the US, as well as from Russia and Iran.
Ankara says the Kurdish groups in Syria — which were backed by western nations in the war with Islamic State — are indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During the interview, Çavuşoğlu criticised Russia and the US for “not keeping their promises” on clearing “the region from terrorists.”
“The US is continuing to provide weapons. Are you trying to divide Syria? Are you against us? The US needs to explain this,” he said, while also claiming that Russia is trying to make the Kurdish fighters act with the Syrian government.
“Both of you are using the PKK and YPG,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the People’s Protection Units.
Both Kalın and Çavuşoğlu slammed Twitter posts by the US Central Command which praised two Kurdish fighters who were killed earlier this month in a Turkish drone strike.
“This is not something that can be accepted as part of the fight against terrorism and within the NATO alliance,” Kalın said.
Çavuşoğlu, on his part, said that the posts show the US is not sincere in the fight against “terrorism” and that there is no difference between the YPG and the PYD (Democratic Union Party).
“The US knows it well. What CENTCOM did is unacceptable,” he added.