ANKARA, -- The Daesh militant group and Kurdish YPG militia has been cleared from an area of northern Syria, said Turkish Pres Tayyip Erdogan, but Syrian Kurdish forces have still not met a Turkish demand to withdraw to the east of the Euphrates river.
Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria last week, saying it had a dual aim of driving away jihadists and ensuring Kurdish forces did not fill the void that was left by extending their control of territory along Turkey's border.
Turkey is concerned that Syrian Kurdish fighters could embolden Kurdish militants waging an insurgency on its soil.
The United States has been alarmed by Turkey's offensive against Kurdish forces, which Washington has supported. U.S. officials have urged Ankara to focus its attacks on Daesh instead.
Erdogan told a news conference early on Friday morning that the operation dubbed "Euphrates Shield" had been successful in clearing Daesh and Kurdish YPG from a 400 sq km area.
But he dismissed claims that the Kurdish YPG, which Ankara calls a terrorist group, had withdrawn to a Kurdish-controlled canton to the east of the Euphrates River. The YPG says it has done so and U.S. officials agree that is mostly the case.
"At the moment, they are saying the YPG has crossed," Erdogan said. "We are saying no they didn't. The proof depends on our own observation."
The Kurdish YPG is part of a broader U.S.-backed coalition in Syria, called the Syrian Democratic Forces. Washington has supported the group in its battle against Daesh but Ankara sees it as an extension of the PKK, the outlawed Kurdish militant group in Turkey.
"Nobody can expect us to allow a terror corridor on our southern border," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey had sought the establishment of a "safe zone" in Syria, but said the idea had not received the backing of other world powers.
Meanwhile, the Anadolu news agency reported that the Turkish army is building a 3.6-meter-high concrete wall along the border with Syria to maintain security,.
Turkish Armed Forces units are erecting the modular walls along the Turkish-Syrian borderline between Suruc, Sanliurfa and Karkamis, Gaziantep.
A four-km leg of the concrete wall will be built on the west of the Mursitpinar border crossing in Suruc and a one-km section, east of Mursitpinar.
The report said the wall will help enhance border security with barbed wire and watchtowers against the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the PKK, citing the district governor of Suruc in the southeastern Sanliurfa province.
On related development, Turkey's army continued to dispatch troops on the border with Syria in its ongoing support for the military operation on Thursday.
Eight tanks and two armored personnel carriers, already stationed at a military base near the town of Qarqamish, Gaziantep, were dispatched to Turkyurdu, a town near the border.
Turkey shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011.
Turkish army launched a cross-border Euphrates Shield operation on Aug. 24, along with the U.S.-led coalition in Syria's northern border town of Jarablus to clear the IS.
Source: Nam News Network