Turkey says incursion into Syria will begin ‘shortly’

Turkey says incursion into Syria will begin ‘shortly’

Turkey’s military will “shortly” cross into Syria together with allied Syrian rebel forces after President Donald Trump announced US troops would withdraw from the area.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency’s communications director, called on the international community in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday “to rally” behind Ankara.

Mr Altun said Turkey seeks to “neutralise” Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and to “liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs”.

He wrote: “The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly.”

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters, allied with American forces in the fight against IS, as terrorists linked to outlawed Kurdish rebels within Turkey.

US president Donald Trump said earlier this week the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, but he then threatened to destroy the Turks’ economy if they went too far.

The Syrian government “will defend all Syrian territory and will not accept any occupation of any land or iota of the Syrian soil,” Mr Mekdad said about the expected Turkish incursion.

The Syrian Kurdish force has pledged to fight back, raising the potential for an eruption of new warfare in Syria.

“We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people” against Turkish troops, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement, adding that it has lost 11,000 fighters in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria.

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