Erdogan threatens to restart operation against Kurds

Turkish President warns his country will restart operation in Syria if Kurds do not withdraw from a "safe zone".

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned that his country would restart its operation against Kurdish forces in Syria on Tuesday evening if they did not withdraw from a "safe zone".

Turkey on Thursday agreed to suspend its offensive for five days in northern Syria while Kurdish fighters withdraw from the area.

"If the promises are kept until Tuesday evening, the safe zone issue will be resolved. If it fails, the operation... will start the minute 120 hours are over," Erdogan told reporters during a foreign media briefing in Istanbul, according to AFP.

He said Turkish armed forces would remain in the region "because the security there requires this", adding that the agreement was holding and there had been no issues so far.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, said there had been Turkish air strikes on the village of Bab al-Kheir, east of Ras al-Ain on the border, even after the ceasefire came into effect.

US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that both Erdogan and the Kurds want the ceasefire to work.

“Just spoke to President Erdogan of Turkey. He told me there was minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated. He very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it, and the ultimate solution, to happen. Too bad there wasn’t this thinking years ago,” he wrote.

“Instead, it was always held together with very weak bandaids, & in an artificial manner. There is good will on both sides & a really good chance for success. The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey,” added Trump.

Turkey launched the cross-border incursion on October 9 after repeatedly threatening to clear the border area from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

The operation was launched three days after Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of US forces in northeastern Syria, leading to some accusations that Trump’s move was an authorization for Turkey to invade the region.

The ceasefire agreement was criticized on Thursday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who said Trump "is flailing" and that he agreed not to implement sanctions against Turkey for a "sham ceasefire."

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) also ripped Trump over the ceasefire reached in Syria, while calling his decision to withdraw troops "a bloodstain in the annals of American history."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)