Turkey threatens US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria ahead of talks

Turkey threatens US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria ahead of talks

Turkey on Monday threatened to launch an operation against American-backed Kurdish fighters if it can't come to an agreement with the United States to keep the group away from its border, Bloomberg reported.

“If the safe zone is not created, the threat emanating from this area continues and terrorists are not cleared, then we would start the operation,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reportedly said in an interview with Turkey’s TGRT television.

“If the threat continues then our soldiers are ready, we would launch the operation. This is a matter of national security for us.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The threat from Turkey comes ahead of a crucial round of talks in Ankara which top Trump administration Syria envoy, James Jeffrey, is scheduled to attend.

Jeffrey's visit will reportedly revolve around a demand from Ankara to set up a buffer zone in Syria that would be off-limits to the Kurdish forces. 

Turkey has mobilized thousands of troops near its frontier with northeastern Syria to try to pressure the U.S. to help it enforce such a zone, according to Bloomberg.

Jeffrey reportedly said last month that there is a general agreement in principle on the safe zone but signaled U.S. reluctance to collect the weapons of Kurdish militia members.

“We certainly have a commitment by the people we’ve armed and trained that they will not use these weapons against anybody other than ISIS,” he said, per Bloomberg.

America is allied with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, who the U.S. sees as a vital collaborator to defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

For Turkey, the militant group is a top enemy because it is linked to the PKK, a Kurdish separatist movement that Turkish forces have been fighting against for over three decades.