October 18, 2019 / 12:43 PM / a month ago

CORRECTED-Erdogan says Syria offensive will continue if truce deal not fully implemented

(Corrects timing of phone call in final paragraph)

ISTANBUL, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Turkey will continue its offensive into northeast Syria more rapidly than before if an agreement with the United States to pause the operation and allow the withdrawal of Kurdish forces is not fully implemented, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan also told journalists that it was not a problem for Turkey if Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, were to enter areas cleared of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, adding that Ankara had no intention to stay in areas under its control in northern Syria.

He also said he had informed U.S. President Donald Trump about the offensive in a phone call on Oct. 6, three days before the operation started. He added that “what is necessary will be done when the time is right” about a letter from Trump in which he told Erdogan to not be a “fool” and “tough guy”. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay Editing by Dominic Evans)

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