BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the situation in Syria following the Turkish invasion earlier this month into the country’s north (all times local):
Turkey’s foreign minister says Turkish forces will “neutralize” any remaining Syrian Kurdish fighter they come across in areas now under Turkish control in northeastern Syria.
Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments on Wednesday — even after the military signaled it won’t resume its offensive, following separate agreements Turkey reached with the U.S. and Russia.
The military said earlier the U.S. had announced Syrian Kurdish fighters completed their pullout from areas Turkey invaded this month as a five-day cease-fire expired.
Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency: “If there are terrorist remnants, we would clear them.”
Cavusoglu said the deal with Russia — which foresees joint Turkish-Russian patrols after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces — would continue until a lasting political solution for Syria is reached. He says the border areas would be locally-administered, mostly by Arabs.
He said Turkey agreed not to conduct joint patrols in the city of Qamishli, because of Russian concerns that such a move could lead to a confrontation between Turkish troops and the Syrian government forces who have long been present in the area.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry is signaling it won’t resume its offensive in northeast Syria, following agreements reached with the U.S. and Russia.
The ministry said early on Wednesday the U.S. had announced Syrian Kurdish fighters completed their pullout from areas Turkey invaded this month as a five-day cease-fire allowing for the withdrawal expired.
This came after the leaders of Russia and Turkey announced a separate deal for their forces to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the Kurdish withdrawal.
Under that deal, Turkey will maintain control over the areas it holds since its incursion. It also lets Russian and Syrian troops control the rest of the border.
The ministry said: “At this stage, there is no further need to conduct a new operation outside the present operation area.”