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Turkey to soon cross to east of Euphrates in northern Syria

(Xinhua)    07:41, December 26, 2018

ANKARA, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Turkey is determined to cross to the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria as soon as possible, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

"Turkey will not wait long to enter the east of Euphrates," Cavusoglu told journalists at a yearend presser.

Cavusoglu made the remarks as Ankara postponed the military operation following a U.S. announcement for withdrawal from the war-torn country.

"We will coordinate the withdrawal process with the U.S.. After the withdrawal of the U.S., we try to prevent a vacuum in Syria from being filled by terrorist organizations," Turkey's top diplomat noted.

Reiterating that Ankara welcomed a U.S. decision to pullout their soldiers from Syria, Cavusoglu told that Ankara and Washington will be in dialogue through this process and a U.S. military delegation will visit Turkey soon.

One of the topics of these military to military talks will be about the heavy weapons the U.S. delivered to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the minister noted.

"The U.S. should collect those weapons. We renewed out expectation on this issue after their decision of pullout," Cavusoglu said.

The U.S. provided weapons for the Syrian Kurdish fighters for their fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, despite warnings of Ankara that the group poses threat to its national security. The issue has long been source of tension between the two NATO allies.

Ankara views the YPG as Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the U.S. and the European Union.

Ankara and Washington agreed to finalize a Manbij deal before the U.S. pullout, the minister said, referring to an agreement between the two countries that envisages retreat of the YPG from the northeastern Syrian town.

Turkey has the power to single-handedly neutralize the IS in Syria, he stated.

Two weeks ago, the Turkish president announced that the army would launch a new military operation in the area controlled by the YPG, but delayed the military campaign after a phone conversation between the U.S. and Turkish presidents.

U.S. president, during the conversation, delegated fight against to the Islamic State (IS) to Turkey after its full pullout from the region, Turkish media reported.

The minister also said he will travel to Russia soon in order to exchange views over the U.S. decision of withdrawal.

"Russia is a very important actor in Syria," he said, adding "it's very important for us to make assessments on the developments with them."

Erdogan, speaking to reporters in parliament on Tuesday, said he is planning to have a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Cavusoglu's trip to Moscow.

Asked if anyone tries to fill the vacuum, whether France or regime troops, in the region after U.S. withdrawal, Cavusoglu said Turkey will not allow presence of "terrorists" in any case, referring to YPG militants.

The minister underlined that if France is staying to "contribute to Syria's future, great, but if they are doing this to protect terrorist YPG. This will bring no benefit to anyone."

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday his troops would carry out operations against IS fighters in Syria to totally wipe out the group's remaining pockets.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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