Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is still committed to driving Syrian Kurdish militias out of northern Syria and that Ankara will not wait for permission from the United States before launching any new offensive.
“Like I always say, we’ll come down on them [Kurdish militias] suddenly one night. And we must,” Erdogan said on his plane following a visit to Azerbaijan, according to a report on May 29 in The Hurriyet newspaper.
He added that “one cannot fight terrorism while waiting for the permission of whoever.”
“What will we do if the United States does not do its part in the fight against terrorism? We will get by on our own,” he said.
Erdogan said, without providing a timeframe, that Turkey plans to launch a cross-border operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — a militia it considers a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has led an insurgency inside Turkey since the 1980s.
Washington, however, has backed the YPG in its fight against the Islamic State extremist group inside Syria, a move vehemently opposed by Ankara.
The U.S. State Department has expressed concerns about Turkey’s plans, saying a new offensive could undermine regional stability and put U.S. forces at risk.
In 2019, Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria against the YPG sparked international condemnation, prompting Finland, Sweden, and others to restrict arms sales to Turkey.
Ankara now is retaliating by blocking the two Nordic countries’ bids to join NATO. Membership in the Western alliance must be unanimously approved by current members.