Syrian army to resume operations in rebel-held Idlib

US State Department AP

Turkey will launch an operation east of the Euphrates in northern Syria against the USA -backed Kurdish YPG militia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday.

Turkish and American military officials have met for negotiations about establishing a safe zone in northeastern Syria to address Ankara's concerns about U.S-allied Syrian Kurdish forces in that region.

Mr Erdoğan said Russian Federation and the United States have been told of the planned operation.

According to Turkey, Turkish soldiers have come under fire from YPG forces, which Ankara has called a "terrorist offshoot" of the Kurdish movement within Turkey that has been fighting for independence since 1984.

But Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on setting up the safe zone and demanded it sever its relations with the YPG.

Turkey wants to control - in coordination with the US - a 19-25 mile-deep zone within Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and wants no Syrian Kurdish forces there.

Turkey views these Kurdish militias - who battled the Islamic State group alongside US forces - as terrorists, allied with a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

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He repeated a threat he has persistently made for the past 18 months to launch an offensive east of the Euphrates River against the YPG.

"We entered Afrin, Jarablus, and Al-Bab".

He said that if no "common ground was reached with the US", Turkey would be forced to "set up the safe zone by ourselves".

Yahya Bostan, a prominent columnist with close ties to the Turkish government, said one of the reasons behind the failure of the latest round of safe zone talks was some of its key elements.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Friday said there was still no agreement on the "safe zone" as Ankara expected the USA to bring new proposals.

For their part, the Syrian Kurds say Ankara's statements mask a territorial grab inside Syria, which the Kurdish forces had liberated from IS militants.

Reports by local media indicate that Turkish military and commando units have been sent to border towns on the Syrian border over the past couple of weeks.

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