Erdogan, Putin to discuss Turkish military operation into Syria – report

By Rudaw  8 April 2019 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to discuss a cross-border military operation into Syria when he travels to Russia on Monday to meet with counterpart Vladimir Putin.”We are completely ready. We have made all necessary preparations in areas along the Syrian border. I will discuss it at a bilateral meeting [with Putin],” Erdogan said on Monday, according to Russia’s NTV channel.  Erdogan made the remarks in Istanbul before boarding a plane bound for Moscow.

The Turkish president has been unable to sway the United States into implementing a joint border operation.

Russian state-media TASS also is reporting that Erdogan will float the idea with Putin.

“Our cooperation with Russia continues increasingly and becomes stronger [day by day],” Erdogan was quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency as saying before boarding.

Visa-free travel between the two countries is also on the table, Erdogan added.

Russia and Turkey have little, if any, military presence east of the Euphrates River, where the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is backed by the US-led international coalition to defeat ISIS.

Turkey has conducted two offensives west of the Euphrates: Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in 2018 and Turkey’s al-Bab and Jarabulus operations in 2016 and 2017. Both reportedly were green-lit by Moscow with Washington acquiescencing.

Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) enjoyed marginal success in municipal elections on March 31. Results are yet to be finalized; however, it has been forecast that the AKP lost Istanbul and Ankara.

Turkey is at a turning point as a NATO ally. Members have repeatedly warned Ankara against acquiring the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

The United States has gone so far as to halt the delivery of F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey repeatedly has warned that it wants to target the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF. Ankara considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The YPG deny any organic links.