ANKARA, October 26. /TASS/. Turkey will clear northwestern Syria from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) if they fail to pull out their fighters in the set timeframe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
"In recent days, historic events have been taking place near our border. We are trying to establish a safety zone. We have agreed with Russia to clear the area 30 kilometers deep and 340 kilometers long, and then we will be conducting joint patrols with Russia," Erdogan said. "If the areas are not retaken from terrorists within the fixed 150 hours’ period of time, we will handle this process," he said in a televised interview with NTV channel.
The president recalled that the United States had earlier vowed that the Kurdish armed groups would withdraw from the Syrian border, but that never happened.
Erdogan against threatened "to open the border for Syrian refugees unless Europe keeps its word."
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. According to various estimates, currently there are about 3.6 to 4 million refugees in Turkey.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum at a summit in Sochi on joint efforts in northeastern Syria. Ankara declared its operation de facto suspended. Nevertheless, Turkey holds control of vast swathes where Ankara plans to resettle the refugees.