On the seventh day of the Operation Peace Spring that Turkey launched in north-east Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he told U.S. President Trump in a phone call that Turkey would not talk to terrorists, Turkish news site T24 reported on Tuesday.
“Trump said to declare a ceasefire. We would never declare a ceasefire,” Erdoğan told reporters on his way back from the Turkic Council in Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President is headed to Turkey to meet with Erdoğan and propose a ceasefire.
“We are, based on the 20 mile proposal, busy cleansing the area that is 444 km long from Iraqi border to the west (side of Syria). Whom? From terrorist organisations. Until we do, ceasefire is not an option. We could never declare a ceasefire, because we are establishing a safe zone,” he continued.
Turkey maintains that the operation was launched because plans to establish a safe zone together with U.S. forces along Turkey’s border in Syria had failed. The country aims to take control over a 30-kilometre-deep region to eliminate the threat it argues the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces pose to Turkey’s national security.
Turkey also plans to settle at least two million Syrian Arab refugees in the predominantly Kurdish region, which has brought on accusations of ethnic cleansing. The United States has firmly stated opposition to Turkey’s operation, and says it must end at once.
On the U.S. sanctions to be imposed on Turkey, President Erdoğan said,
“Our objective is clear: We have absolutely no concern about any sanctions. You know that they are creating some obstacles with regards to visa applications, including myself and three minister friends of mine (impacted by this), also some trade sanctions. Apparently they have no idea about the people (they are dealing with). I told all of these issues to Mr. Trump. On the other hand they are inviting us to the U.S. on November 13.”