Turkey's Erdogan vows to take on US-backed YPG fighters in northern Syria

Reuters Turkey Dec 16, 2018, 10.29 PM(IST)

File photo of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photograph:( AFP )

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Erdogan's latest remarks came four days after he announced an imminent operation against Kurdish militia in neighbouring Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "bury" US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters "in the trenches they dug" on Sunday.

The US-backed YPG militia, which has been fighting Islamic State in Syria, controls Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. Ankara says it is an extension of the PKK and poses a direct threat to Turkey.

Erdogan's latest remarks came four days after he announced an imminent operation against Kurdish militia in neighbouring Syria.

Earlier this week, the main Turkey-backed Syrian rebel group said up to 15,000 Syrian rebels are ready to join a Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, but no date has been set for the operation.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Thursday it will respond strongly to any Turkish attack but is pressing diplomatic efforts to deter an assault.

Turkey has already swept YPG fighters from Afrin and other areas west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years, but has not gone east of the river - partly to avoid direct confrontation with US forces.

The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. It has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast that has killed about 40,000 people.