On October 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a “final warning” to Kurdish armed groups in Syria, claiming that Ankara “will eliminate threat towards Turkey” and will not allow activities that endanger the country’s borders.
Speaking to a group of provincial leaders of his AK Party in Ankara, the Turkish President vowed to clear the entire area east of the Euphrates River from the terrorists – this is how Ankara describes US-backed Kurdish armed groups there because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK, designated as a terrorist group in multiple states, is one of the essential threats to the Turkish security.
The US support to these Kurdish armed groups, which are the core of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, is among the key issues behind the US-Turkish tensions on the Syrian conflict.
Erdogan also adressed the current situation in northwestern Syria where Turkey, Iran and Russia are attempting to impose the demilitarized zone.
“We, together with Russia and Iran have developed a formula that takes into account the interests of all parties. In Geneva, we failed to solve these problems, and we made a decision on a Syrian settlement in Astana. Then there was Sochi, Tehran, where we reached a logical conclusion. As a result, there are no problems with Idlib now,” Erdogan stated commenting on the situation in idlib and Turkey’s cooperation with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.
Despite the warm words by all sides, the demilitarized zone agreement is not working well yet. While relatively moderate Turkish-backed militant groups have withdraw their heavy weapons from the area, the hardcore extremists – the most military capable part of the “opposition” – continie to violate the agreement keeping their heavy weapons and shelling government positions.