06:38 GMT +318 January 2020
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) – After the 31 March municipal elections in Turkey, Ankara intends to solve the Syrian issue "on the field," and not at the negotiating table, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, commenting on the possibility of a new operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

    "Our first step after the elections will be the resolution of the Syrian issue on the field, not at the table, if possible. On Monday, we will move on with renewed vigour," Erdogan said in Istanbul, as aired by the Turkish NTV channel.

    Later in the day, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler on Saturday took part in the opening of a centre for management of the possible operation against militants east of the Euphrates River in Syria, Anadolu reported. The centre is located in Turkey's southeastern province of Sanliurfa, according to the Anadolu news agency.

    Akar and Guler also inspected the Turkish forces stationed near the Syrian border in the province.

    READ MORE: Turkey Strikes Massive Blow on PKK Positions in Northern Iraq — Defence Ministry

    Last December, Erdogan announced that Ankara was ready to launch another offensive against the Kurdish militia, in then Kurdish-controlled Manbij. Their previous military operation dubbed the Olive Branch was launched in January 2018  in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey sees it as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara. 

    However, the Turkish leader later said that the operation had been postponed following his phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, who announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria after the call.

    READ MORE: Violence in Syria's Idlib Displace 90,000 People in February, March — UN

    military operation in Syria, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria
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