Turkey's Erdogan reiterates plans for military offensive into Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday reiterated plans for a military offensive into Syria, saying the neighboring country would soon be “cleared of terrorists.”

Turkey intends to create a 30-kilometer security zone in Syria, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdogan as saying, as part of the country’s resolute plans to fight against terrorism.

“I hope we will soon clear the last area in Syria where the terrorist organization is harboring, and unite the rings of the security belt," Erdogan said at a conference with Turkish ambassadors to foreign countries in Ankara.

The Turkish leader in May announced that Ankara was planning a new military operation in northern Syria, with the goal of expanding the security zone created in October 2019 as part of what Turkey called “Operation Peace Spring”, but stopped short of providing a date.

Since August 2016, Turkey has launched four military operations in northern Syria, where Russia, the Syrian regime and the United States also have troops, directed at Islamic State (ISIS) and the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has fought for Kurdish autonomous rights in Turkey for almost four decades, and thus an existential threat.

The country's National Security Council (MGK) in May said that Turkey's current and future military operations on its southern borders do not target its neighbors' sovereignty but are necessary for Turkish security.

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