Turkey-backed Syrian rebels announce full support for Turkish offensive in northeast Syria

Turkey-backed Syrian militias said Turkey should launch a military offensive into northeast Syria and pledged to "fully support" the incursion, independent Turkish news outlet T24 reported on Thursday.

The National Army, which was formed with Turkish backing from several Free Syrian Army groups, called for a Turkish military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area east of the Euphrates in northern Syria and announced their full support during their meeting in Turkey's southeastern city of Şanlıurfa, T24 said.

Turkey had repeatedly warned of carrying out military operations east of the Euphrates. But Ankara put them on hold after the United States and Turkey last month agreed to set up a safe zone in northeast Syria to address its security concerns about the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have been key to the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

But progress has stumbled due to differences over the extent of the area and U.S. support for the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over 30 years.

And in recent weeks the Turkish defence minister and Erdoğan have repeatedly threatened to invade the area if Washington stalls progress on setting up the safe zone or is unable to agree to its terms.

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