Turkey says its Syria offensive doesn’t hinge on US pullout

January 10, 2019
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu listens at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Cavusoglu said Wednesday, that Turkey will not refrain from military action to protect its borders from threats posed by Syrian Kurdish fighters, rejecting U.S. demands for protection of its Kurdish allies in northeastern Syria. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s foreign minister says a planned Turkish military offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria doesn’t depend on whether the United States withdraws its troops from the region.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with NTV news channel on Thursday that Turkey would take the necessary steps to thwart threats from the fighters “whether they (U.S.) withdraw or don’t withdraw.”

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are allied with U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group, as offshoot of outlawed Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.

Turkey this week rejected U.S. national security adviser John Bolton’s demands for assurances that Ankara would protect the Syrian Kurdish fighters before Americans withdraw.

Cavusoglu says American “security units” are trying to deter President Donald Trump from his decision to pull out.