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'Turkey's possible Syria op unrelated to US withdrawal'

Baku, January 10, AZERTAC

Turkey's expected counter-terrorism operation east of the Euphrates River in Syria is not related to the U.S. withdrawal from the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, Anadolu Agency reported.

"Our operation against the YPG/PKK is not related to whether the U.S. withdraws or not," Cavusoglu told news channel NTV.

Cavusoglu pointed out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement that an operation was coming came well before U.S. President Donald Trump's surprise decision last month to pull out U.S. troops out of Syria.

"We didn’t know that the U.S. would withdraw [from Syria]. However, whether it withdraws or not, we will do what is necessary against a terrorist organization that poses a threat to our national security," he added.

On Dec. 12, Erdogan announced that a Turkish operation was imminent to save the region from the terrorist PKK/PYD, also known as the PKK/YPG.

Later, the president decided to delay the operation, but Erdogan has repeatedly said that Turkey is ready to take action very soon to eliminate the "terror corridor" in northern Syria.

"Turkey is determined on this issue," Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey will decide on its timeline for the operation.

"We will not seek permission from anyone on this issue," he added.

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