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New military operation in Syria to ‘start at any moment’: Erdogan

Turkey may launch a new military operation in northern Syria at any moment, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, adding US President Donald Trump had given a positive response to Turkey’s plans.

Erdogan’s remarks came days after he announced Turkish forces would launch a new cross-border operation against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.

The YPG is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara. American troops are also located to the east of the Euphrates River.

Erdogan spoke on the phone with Trump on Friday and they agreed to ensure “more effective coordination” between their countries’ military operations in Syria.

“I spoke with Trump. The terrorists must leave the east of the Euphrates. If they don’t go, we will remove them,” Erdogan vowed during a televised speech in the central province of Konya.

Turkey views the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has battled against the Turkish state since 1984.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the US and European Union, while the YPG is not.

“They [YPG] are a source of discomfort with their terror corridor” along Turkey’s border, Erdogan said.

Although Erdogan said Turkey could start an operation “at any moment”, he appeared to indicate there was room for negotiation with the US.

“Since we are strategic partners with America, then we must do what is necessary,” said Erdogan. But he added the US “must fulfil promises” without giving further details.