Turkey to launch military operation in northeastern Syria any day, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said Turkey will soon launch an air and ground military operation into northeast Syria targeting the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia.

"We have made our preparations; we have finalised our operation plans, given the necessary instructions," Hürriyet newspaper quoted Erdoğan as saying on Saturday during an annual camp for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdogan stated Turkey to launch ''air and ground operation'' into Syria. 

The operation targeting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia could take place any day, the Turkish president said. 

Turkey has threatened a military intervention in the region mainly controlled by Kurdish militia citing insufficient progress on agreement between Ankara and Washington to establish a "safe zone" on the Syrian border that Turkey says should be cleared of the YPG.

Ankara sees the YPG as an existential threat due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey for over 30 years. 

Erdoğan’s statement follows Turkey’s end of September deadline for the establishment of a 30-kilometre-deep (19-mile-deep) zone.

Ankara warned that Turkey would be forced to take military action for its own security if the deadline was not met and has accused Washington of failing to make enough progress on the zone, amid differences between the countries on who should control it and how far it should reach into war-torn Syria.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella organisation dominated by the YPG, said on Saturday they would "not hesitate to turn any unprovoked (Turkish) attack into an all-out war," Reuters reported.

Erdoğan also spoke on Turkey’s plans to resettle millions of Syrian refugees in the envisaged safe zone. The country is home to 3.6 million Syrian refugees. 

"Our goal is to water the east of Euphrates with fountains of peace. We plan on settling 2 million people in this region,’’ Erdoğan said.