ANKARA, March 2. /TASS/. Ankara has been taking all possible measures in order to prevent any military incidents with Russia and the Free Syrian Army, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on a plane on his return journey from Pakistan.
"Our goal is to do everything possible in order to prevent such incidents. I hope they do not occur because we do not want such mistakes to happen," he said. Erdogan made this statement while commenting on some expert opinions that military incidents between Russia and Turkey were possible in Syria where they both countries have been carrying out military operations with the line of contact between Turkish, the Free Syrian Army, Russia and the Syrian troops lying near the city of al-Bab.
When asked about the prospects of the Euphrates Shield operation that Turkey has been conducting in northern Syria together with the Free Syrian Army since August 24, 2016, Erdogan said that the town of Manbij, where Kurkish units from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are, would be the next goal of the Turkish air force and FSA. Turkey considers some of these units to be terror groups.
"I cannot say that the new US administration has made up its mind concerning Raqqa and Manbij and the possible operations there. However, we believe that the Syrian Democratic Forces should not participate. Our forces will head to Manbij next. This town should be liberated (from the Kurds) because it belongs to the Arab people living in Syria," Erdogan said.
Erdogan plans to discuss cooperation with Russia in the struggle against the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) in Syria when he visits Moscow on March 9-10. According to Haberturk TV, he made a statement to that effect to journalists on board a plane while returning from Pakistan.
"We will be able to go ahead with the struggle against the Islamic State together, if a corresponding request comes from Russia. In March I will pay a visit to Moscow. We will have a chance to discuss these themes in detail at our negotiations," he said.
Erdogan will arrive in Moscow on March 9 for participation in a meeting of the High Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council," he said.