President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is scheduled to discuss with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a possible Turkish military operation in northern Syria, where it has been confronting US-backed militants.
Erdogan said he would hold talks with President Putin in Moscow on Monday, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
“Our preparations on the border are finished, everything is ready for an operation. We can begin it at any moment. I will discuss this issue among others face-to-face (with Putin) on my visit to Russia,” Erdogan was cited as saying.
The Turkish leader has vowed that his troops would crush the US-backed YPG militia east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, saying the militant group could not rely on Washington’s support to defeat the Anatolian country. He said last year that preparations were complete for an operation.
Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
Turkey first deployed forces to northern Syria in 2016 to repel the YPG under the banner of the so-called “Operation Euphrates Shield.”
The Turkish incursion in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin started after the United States said it sought to set up a thousand-strong force in Syria near the Turkish border comprising SDF, which is led by the YPG.
Syria views the Turkish military intervention as a violation of its sovereignty, and has repeatedly called on Ankara to pull its forces out.
The United States, which has set up observation posts on the Syrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and said the newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat against Turkey coming from Syria.