Turkey said early Wednesday there is no further need at this stage for it to conduct a new operation in northern Syria outside its present operation area.
“Turkey will never let a terror corridor be established to the south of its borders and our resolute fight against terrorism will continue,” the Defense Ministry said in a written statement.
It was referring to Operation Peace Spring, which was launched on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
The statement underlined that at the end of a 120-hour pause, the U.S. reported that the withdrawal of the PKK/YPG terror group from a designated safe zone region was completed.
On Oct. 17, a U.S. delegation led by Vice President Mike Pence paid a working visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara, where they met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussed Turkey’s anti-terror operation.
Following the meeting, the two sides reached a 13-point agreement on northeastern Syria. As part of the deal, Turkey paused its anti-terror push east of the Euphrates for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot the YPG/PKK from the planned safe zone. The pause ended Tuesday night.
Ankara and the U.S. agreed on a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria, where Turkey wants to accommodate Syrian refugees it is currently hosting.
“We have shown due sensitivity in fulfilling all the obligations we agreed to,” the statement said.
It also stressed that within the scope of an agreement reached Tuesday between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia’s coastal resort city of Sochi, joint activities with Russia will start from Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Turkey and Russia reached a 10-point agreement on Syria during the “historic” meeting between the two presidents just hours before the pause was set to expire.
According to the deal, starting at 12 noon (0900GMT) on Oct. 23, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border outside the area of Operation Peace Spring to facilitate the removal of YPG/PKK terrorists and their weapons to a location 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Turkey’s border in northern Syria, which should be finalized in 150 hours.
“By creating a peace corridor in the area, we will ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrian brothers and sisters to their homes and lands,” the statement concluded.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.