ANKARA, NNC -- Turkey will launch its latest military operation in Syria in the next few days against US-backed Kurdish militias - who considers it a terrorist group, said Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday (12/12/2018).
"We will begin operations to liberate east Euphrates from separatist terrorist organizations in the next few days," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara, referring to the area held by the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (KPPU).
Turkey says the KPPU is a "terrorist branch" of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (KWP), which has launched a rebellion against the Turkish state since 1984. KWP was blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
However, US forces have worked closely with KPPU under the Syrian-led Syrian Democratic Alliance (SDA) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
"The goal is that there have never been American soldiers but members of terrorist organizations active in the region," Erdogan told attendees at the defense industry meeting.
There are US forces with SDA east of Euphrates and in the city of Manbij, which is west of the river.
Washington's relationship with KPPU, which is seen as a key ally, is one of the main sources of tension between Turkey and the US. Ankara has repeatedly criticized Washington for providing military support to Kurdish militias.
Erdogan previously threatened to attack the area held by KPPU. In an effort to avoid clashes, NATO allies agreed to a "road map" for Manbij in June.
His comments came a day after the Pentagon announced the establishment of a US observation post in the northeastern Syrian border area intended to prevent a row between Turkish troops and KPPU despite calls from Ankara not to continue.
Erdogan claims Turkey is not protected from terrorists but "terrorists are being protected" from possible actions by Turkey, according to The Telegraph.