By Ferdi Turkten
WASHINGTON (AA) - Turkey is getting ready to clear the YPG/PKK terror group from the area east of Euphrates in northern Syria, the nation's leader said Tuesday.
Speaking at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled that Turkey has been hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees and has spent $40 billion for them.
He noted that Ankara has been making diplomatic efforts to ensure peace in Idlib, which the president said hosts 4 million residents and was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
He said Turkey is reconstructing schools, hospitals, infrastructure and superstructure in Syrian cities it has cleared of terrorists.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
"Now we are preparing to clean the east of the Euphrates from terrorist organizations for the same purpose," said Erdogan, vowing to rebuild terror-hit areas.
"We aim to ensure that both the Syrians in our country and our brothers who reside in the region will contribute to reconstruction of Syria when peace is maintained," said the president.
Erdogan also called on world leaders at the summit to back Turkey's efforts to do so.
The PKK's Syrian branch YPG has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting against Daesh with the support of the U.S.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.
*Servet Gunerigok in Washington contributed to this story