November 18, 2019 / 5:39 PM / 23 days ago

Turkey will launch another Syria operation if area not cleared of Kurdish YPG - Anadolu

FILE PHOTO: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister said Ankara would launch a new military operation in northeast Syria if the area was not cleared of what he called terrorists, state-owned Anadolu agency reported on Monday.

Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying that United States and Russia had not done what was required under agreements that halted a Turkish offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in northeastern Syria last month.

The deals stipulated that the YPG would be removed from a swathe of land bordering Turkey in northeastern Syria.

Cavusoglu called on Washington and Moscow on Monday to do what is necessary under the deals.

“If we do not obtain a result, we will do what is necessary, just as we launched the operation after trying with the U.S.,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying, referring to work with Washington to remove the YPG from the area before Turkey launched its cross-border incursion on Oct. 9.

Ankara views the YPG, the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that helped the United States defeat Islamic State, as a terrorist group with links to Kurdish militants on Turkish soil.

Turkey’s latest offensive was widely condemned by Ankara’s Western allies, who said the assault could hinder the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria. Turkey has dismissed the concerns, saying it will continue to combat Islamic State.

Despite amicable relations between the presidents of the two countries, the U.S. Congress has passed a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions against Ankara, a NATO ally, over the offensive.

The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said last week he did not want lawmakers to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Turkey for now. He cited a need to lessen friction during talks over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400s missile defense system, another point of disagreement between the allies.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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