Turkey to resume offensive in northeast Syria if SDF does not withdraw by Tuesday - Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said Ankara would continue its offensive in northeast Syria if Kurdish-led militias do not fully withdraw from the area as laid out in a deal agreed with Washington last week, Turkey state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
U.S. officials negotiated a halt to Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring last Thursday, giving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliates until Tuesday to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey.
Ankara launched the military operation on Oct. 9 to clear the Kurdish-led forces from areas south of its border where Erdoğan wishes to create a “safe zone” to resettle Syrian refugees. The Turkish government considers the SDF and other Kurdish-led groups to be a serious security threat due to their links to outlawed militants fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey.
"The 13-point joint statement is valid for 120 hours ... If it is followed, that is good, if not we will resume Operation Peace Spring the moment the 120 hours have passed," Erdoğan said during an event in Istanbul.
Turkey's operation has received a wave of international criticism, including from the Arab League, European Union and NATO.
Erdoğan hit back at Turkey’s NATO allies for the criticism, telling them “not to side with terrorists” and saying “if these terrorist organisations have joined NATO, it is news to us.”
Ankara’s deal was struck with the United States, Erdoğan said, and not with what he called terrorists.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday said the conflict in Syria could only be solved through negotiations.
"I believe that the conflict in Syria can only be solved politically," Anadolu quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying.
But, he also echoed Erdoğan's remarks on resuming the offensive into northeast Syria if the terms of the ceasefire deal are not met until the deadline.