Turkish VP says Ankara does not bow down to threats over safe zone
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay on Tuesday responded to a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump over Turkey’s planned safe zone, saying Ankara will not act in accordance with threats.
Turkey will never tolerate creation of a terror corridor or a terror state at its border under any circumstances, regardless of its cost, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Oktay as saying.
Oktay's comments came after a threat by Trump on Oct. 7 to economically destroy Turkey should Ankara take any action he would deem "off limits" following his surprise decision late Sunday to pull U.S. forces out of north-eastern Syria.
"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," Trump said as part of a series of Twitter posts on Turkey on Monday.
"Turkey sets its own way when it comes to Turkey's national security as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed," Oktay said, speaking at the opening ceremony for the academic year at an Ankara university.
Turkey has long threatened to invade northeast Syria to remove from the border area U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces that the Turkish government sees as a threat to national security. However, Ankara has until now held back due to the presence of U.S. troops in the region helping the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against ISIS.
U.S. forces on Monday began to withdraw from positions in north-eastern Syria on the border with Turkey.
The Turkish Defence Ministry on Tuesday said Turkish troops are ready to launch an offensive into neighbouring Syria.