Turkey will press ahead with its military operation in northern Syria until its goals are reached, the country’s National Security Council said late on Nov. 26.
Operation Peace Spring, launched last month, "will continue until it reaches its goals, while taking all precautions to prevent harm to civilians," the council, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in a statement after meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara.
The council also said that Turkey expects the U.S. and Russia to fulfill their agreements with Ankara as soon as possible to clear the People's Protection Units (YPG) from areas of northern Syria, including Tal Rifat and Manbij.
The council said that Turkey will "continue its determined fight" against ISIS and is open to any cooperation towards that end.
“We call on the international community to support Turkey, which aims for the safe and voluntary return of Syrians to their country without any discrimination based on ethnicity or religion,” the council said.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring against the YPG, in a bid to push the Kurdish forces away from the border and establish a 32-kilometer deep “safe zone.”
Under two separate deals struck with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG militia from the planned northern Syria safe zone.
Ankara however says that the YPG have failed to withdraw from some areas, undertaking attacks against Turkish soldiers and civilians.
Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist organization due to it being the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
Turkey not resuming military operation in northeast Syria: Security source
A day earlier, a security source told Reuters that Turkey is fully abiding by the agreements it reached with Russia and the United States regarding northeast Syria and is not resuming its military offensive.
The security source also said that Turkey was responding to attacks by the YPG in the region within the scope of self defense.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Nov. 18 said neither Russia nor the United States had kept up their side of the deal, adding Turkey would launch a new offensive in northeast Syria if the area was not cleared of the YPG militia.
Çavuşoğlu’s remarks later drew ire from Russia, with its ministry of defense saying that Moscow had carried out in full its obligations under the deal struck by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan.
“The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s call for military action can only escalate the situation in northern Syria rather than sort things out in the way set out in a joint memorandum signed by the presidents of Russia and Turkey,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Nov. 19.
A day later, on Nov. 20, the TASS news agency reported Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that Ankara had assured Moscow that it did not plan to launch a new military operation in Syria despite earlier comments.
Lavrov also said that the withdrawal of the YPG militia in northern Syria was almost complete.