By Faruk Zorlu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey is ready for an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, to clear the region of terrorists.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town of capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace east of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists.
“We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given.
"It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation,” Erdogan said.
“Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of Euphrates with peace,” he added.
Turkey has long complained about the threat of terrorists coming from east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, which neighbors its southern border, vowing to take a military action to prevent formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
Turkey made all kinds of warning to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, Erdogan said.
"We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the U.S. for safe zone], we see that all were a tale," the president said.
U.S. and Turkish troops carried out their first joint ground patrol for the zone on Sept. 9.
While Turkey welcomes the joint patrols, it has also said the U.S. is not doing enough to set up the safe zone properly.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
Turkey has long championed the idea of terrorist-free safe zones in Syria. It has stressed ridding the area of the terrorist YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.