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Turkey Is Not Worried About US Sanctions as Ankara's Goals in Northern Syria Are Clear - Erdogan

© REUTERS / Djordje KojadinovicTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint press conference with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic after their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, October 7, 2019
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint press conference with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic after their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, October 7, 2019 - Sputnik International
Turkey is not worried about US sanctions imposed in connection with the operation in northern Syria and Ankara intends to continue the offensive until its goals are achieved, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"Until the operation achieves all the set goals, it will continue. Our goals are clear, we are not worried about [US] sanctions. Our goal is to eliminate terrorists within 32 kilometres [about 20 miles] from the border. We are holding talks with the US and Russia for field coordination," Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Erdogan also said that he told US President Donald Trump that Turkey would never declare a ceasefire in northern Syria.

"I talked to [US President Donald] Trump yesterday, he said that we should declare a ceasefire, but we will by no means do this. I told him that we will also by no means sit at the negotiations table with a terrorist organization. I told Trump to send a delegation, so that we can discuss everything," Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday, as broadcast on national television.

Turkish President added that Turkey has nothing against the Syrian government forces controlling the city of Manbij in the northeast of Syria, as long as terrorists are wiped out in the area.

"In the end it’s their [Syrian] land," Erdogan stressed on Tuesday, telling Turkish journalists that the entry of Syrian government forces is not "a very negative development" but it is important that the area is cleared of terrorist organizations.

According to the Turkish president, the residents of Manbij are predominantly (85-90%) Arabs, not Kurds, whom Ankara believes to be linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), branded a terrorist organization by Turkey.

"We ask them [Syrian government]: ‘Will the terrorists remain or not?’ And I have told reputable [Russian President Vladimir] Putin the same thing. If you are clearing Manbij of terrorists, please ensure this [that terrorists are eliminated]," Erdogan said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia's Defence Ministry said that Syrian government forces had retaken control of Manbij and the surrounding areas after US servicemen left their bases northwest of the city.

Turkish Presidential Administration said that Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria will significantly contribute to maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity.

"Our president told his Russian colleague that Operation Peace Spring, along with contributing to the fight against terrorism, will also make a significant contribution to protecting Syria’s territorial integrity and to the political settlement process," the Turkish presidential administration said in a Tuesday statement.

Erdogan and Putin had a phone conversation late on Tuesday, at the initiative of the Turkish side. The two leaders discussed Turkey’s operation in northern Syria, launched earlier this month.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against Turkish officials and entities, including the defence and energy ministries, in response to Ankara’s Operation Peace Spring launched in northeast Syria earlier this month.

Last week, Turkey launched an offensive in neighbouring Syria in a bid to create a "safe zone" along the border that would be free of Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurdish forces in Syria an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which it has classified as a terrorist organization.

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