President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey would “soon” launch a ground operation in Syria against Kurdish militants following air raids.
“We have been on top of terrorists for a few days with our planes, cannons and drones,” Erdogan said in a televised address. “God willing, we will root out all of them soon with our tanks, artillery and soldiers.”
Turkey on Sunday launched Operation Claw-Sword, hitting Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq and Syria after a deadly attack in Istanbul.
The government has blamed the November 13 bombing on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.
The United States late Monday urged de-escalation and Russia said Tuesday it hoped Turkey would exercise “restraint” and refrain from “excessive use of force” in Syria.
Erdogan said his government knew “who protects, arms and encourages those terrorists”, in a veiled reference to Washington, which relied heavily on Syrian Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State group.
He said Turkey was patient enough, “not because it was desperate”, but because it was loyal to diplomacy.
“The road has come to an end for those who think they can keep Turkey waiting by playing with letters and changing the name of the terrorist organisation,” said Erdogan.
Turkey considers Syrian Kurdish militants as a terror group linked to the PKK.
“After this moment, there is only one measure for us, there is only one limit: It is the security of our own country, our own citizens,” Erdogan said.