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Dec 17 2018

Turkey will continue operations in east of Euphrates despite U.S. - Turkish minister

Turkey will not let the United States limit its military operation in the Syrian territories, east of the Euphrates River, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Monday during his official visit to Pakistan.

“The United States tried to hamper us in northern Iraq, and in Afrin and Syria," Soylu told reporters.

Turkey has previously launched two military operations into Syria. With Operation Euphrates Shield, which started in Aug. 2016, Turkish Armed Forces took control of the region between the Euphrates river to the east and the rebel-held area around Azaz to the west.  On Jan. 2018, Turkey started Operation Olive Branch into the majority-Kurdish Afrin district of northwest Syria.

"And now, they will try to hamper us in the east of the Euphrates. Turkey did not let it happen back then, and we will not let it happen this time,” Soylu said.

"The United States attempted to establish an international siege, but we have overcome it,” Soylu added.

Soylu added that Turkey would also overcome another possible international pressure on Turkey over the military operation into the east of the Euphrates river.

The interior minister's statement arrive after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 12  that Turkey was ready to launch an operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to the east of the Euphrates River.

Turkey and the United States have been at odds over the U.S. support to YPG, which forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is battling the remnants of ISIS. Washington says Ankara’s offensive against the YPG undermines that fight since the Turkish authorities see it as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an group fighting in Turkey for over three decades.