Turkey to launch operation east of Euphrates in Syria in a few days: Erdoğan
‘It is time to realize our decision to wipe out terror groups in the east of Euphrates,’ says Turkish president
News ServiceYeni Şafak
Speaking at the two-day Turkish Defense Summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey would launch an operation targeting the east of the Euphrates river in Syria in order to “liberate it” from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in a few days.
“It is time to realize our decision to wipe out terror groups in the east of Euphrates,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday in capital Ankara.
“Turkey's target has never been U.S. soldiers with the operation in the east of the Euphrates, but rather members of terror group. We are determined to make that region livable and peaceful. This step will allow for the path to a political solution to be opened and for healthier cooperation,” he added.
Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria policy, where the United States has backed the YPG.
Erdoğan said delaying tactics continue to be applied in Manbij, referring to the agreement between Turkey and the U.S. that focuses on the withdrawal of PKK/YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region.
“Although approximately 80-85 percent of Manbij belongs to Arabs, there are still terrorist groups there,” he added.
Ankara has recently repeatedly voiced frustration about what it says are delays in the implementation of a deal with the United States to clear the YPG from the town of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates.
In November, Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in northern Syria.
The PYD and its military YPG wing are Syrian branches of the PKK, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years.
The president said it was clear that the purpose of U.S. observation points in Syria were not to protect Turkey country from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Nov. 21 that the United States was setting up observation posts to avert terror threats.
“We are going to track any threat that we can spot going up into Turkey. That means we will be talking to Turkey’s military across the border,” Mattis said.
Defense industry projects
Turkey is pursuing 650 defense industry projects worth a total of $60 billion dollars, Erdoğan announced.
“The Turkish private sector, which is now making armed unmanned aerial vehicles, will go further and produce more powerful ones,” Erdoğan said.
The president vowed to improve Turkey's indigenous combat helicopter, the T129 ATAK, saying efforts to develop an indigenous warplane were ongoing.
Erdoğan said the indigenous battle tank Altay, which has been further developed with new technologies, will be available to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).
Turkey’s first indigenous multi-purpose helicopter
The president also announced Turkey’s first indigenous multi-purpose helicopter as the “T625 GÖKBEY,” which is a twin engine, 6-ton class helicopter developed in response to the growing market demand for higher mission flexibility in this class. The aircraft incorporates several new technology features to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for operators.
Erdoğan said Turkey was working to produce indigenous long-range missiles, and that the project’s test-fires had been completed.
Exporting domestically-produced products
Also speaking at the same event, Defense Industry head İsmail Demir said an official visit to a "Far East" country was planned for Monday in order to finalize the last step of exporting the domestically produced ATAK helicopter.
The “T129 ATAK" Multirole Combat Helicopter has been optimized for specific hot and high performance requirements. It is a tandem seat, twin-engine, NATO-interoperable attack helicopter optimized for attack, armed reconnaissance, precision strike and deep strike missions, at day and night regardless of weather conditions.
Demir added that the indigenous Bora missile had successfully passed tests with pinpoint accuracy.
The Bora is a long range surface-to-surface missile.
The summit, which aims to discuss issues such as the sector's needs, new projects and human resources, is being held at the Presidential Congress and Culture Center in the capital Ankara on Dec. 12-13.
Resolute stance against terror
Turkey's determination in the fight against terror continues in Syria's Idlib, Manbij and the east of Euphrates in the same manner, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday.
"We will never allow a terror corridor on our borders," Akar said.