Ankara, Oct 22 (IANS) Turkey has threatened to resume its offensive on the northern Syrian border if Kurdish militias do not clear the area for the creation of a safe zone on Tuesday, which marks the end of the agreed five-day ceasefire.
The ceasefire, which ends at 10 p.m. on Friday, was agreed on October 17 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence, reports Efe news.
Turkish officials, who consider the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) as terrorists, said fighting would resume at 10:01 p.m. if one single Kurdish fighter was left in the region.
The country’s Defence Ministry added that an attack would be launched regardless of Russia’s stance, a long-time ally of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.
The border area which spans between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abiad 120 km wide and 32 km deep is controlled by the Turkish Army and Syrian opposition National Army.
Turkey has started making arrangements for the creation of a safe zone where some 2 million Syrian refugees will be settled.
Kurdish forces have already withdrawn from the city of Ras al-Ain, complying with the truce deal, and Turkish analysts have said that around 1,000 YPG fighters had abandoned the border.
Erdogan is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to broach the situation of troops on the ground given the Kurds are expected to strike a deal with Assad to stop the Turkish offensive.
He has stated on more than one occasion that he would not oppose the presence of the Assad Army in this region provided the YPG, which controls the area since 2015, guarantee withdrawal.
The US had supported the YPG with weapons and logistics in its fight against the Islamic State terror organisation until it suddenly announced the withdrawal of its remaining troops in the area.
The Russian government said on Monday that the Kurdish community and governing bodies would have to integrate within Syria’s legal framework, a statement that ruled out any support for the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in the Arab country as already exists in Iraq.
Iran, also an ally of Assad, has demanded that Turkey respects Syria’s sovereignty.