Turkey’s 120-hour pause on counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria would be over and army would restart targeting terror elements if agreement with the U.S. is not implemented, the Turkish president said Saturday.
Speaking at a mass opening ceremony held in central Kayseri province of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “[If agreement with the U.S.] is not implemented, then we will continue crushing heads of terrorists a minute after 120 hours [operational pause].”
“If promises given to Turkey are not kept as in the past, we will resume the operation after pause,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan went on to say that Bashar al-Assad regime forces under protection of Russia were present at some areas of Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation, he said: “We will discuss the issue with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We need to find a solution.”
He criticized the smear campaigns against Turkey’s operation, which attaches great importance to civilians, and called on the international community to support Turkey.
Erdogan added Turkey’s stance in the establishment of a safe-zone in northern Syria has always been same and it has not changed.
On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
On Thursday, Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
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.