(MEE) — Turkey will still launch an offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces if the United States delays the withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country, its foreign minister has said.
“If the [pullout] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s NTV television on Thursday.
“We are determined on the field and at the table… We will decide on its timing and we will not receive permission from anyone.”
The warning comes as Middle East Eye revealed that US diplomats and military officials failed to present any specific details to their Turkish counterparts about Washington’s plans to withdraw its forces from northern Syria during National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to Ankara on Tuesday.
Turkey and the US are at loggerheads over the future of Syrian Kurdish forces after US President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement last month to pull out 2,000 troops from Syria.
Ahead of Trump’s move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch another operation in Syria targeting the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkish officials had a tense meeting this week with Bolton in Ankara aimed at coordinating the pullout process.
Erdogan, who has welcomed the pullout plan, accused Bolton of a “grave mistake” by demanding that Ankara provide assurances on the safety of the Kurdish fighters before Washington withdraws its troops.