By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is talking to "both sides" as Turkey carries out its ongoing Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.
Trump said Turkey has been planning to launch an operation against YPG terror group, Syrian offshoot of the PKK, "for a long time".
"They have been fighting forever," Trump said on Twitter. "We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area. I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS. Talking to both sides."
"Turkey is a member of NATO. Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help)," the president added, reiterating warnings of economic repercussions for Turkey if it acts in a way he deems unwarranted.
Trump announced Sunday the pullback of U.S. forces ahead of the start of the Operation Peace Spring, a move that has drawn stiff resistance from Capitol Hill.
Turkey launched the operation Wednesday to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has said the PKK terrorist group and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.
Ankara has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-kilometer (19-mile) wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terrorist groups such as the PKK, PYD and YPG risk its formation.
Turkey has rid an area of 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch -- to purge the region of the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and under the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists. Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.