By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said that the northwestern Syrian province of Afrin "must be cleared of the terrorist groups PYD and YPG," the Syrian branches of the terrorist PKK.
In a speech to ruling party members in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey "was disappointed with the United States not keeping its promises since the crisis in Syria broke out," adding that he "doesn’t want the same thing to happen in Afrin."
Turkey has pushed the U.S. to make sure that the PKK/PYD and PKK/YPG are not present in certain parts of Syria liberated of Daesh.
"We need to be dominant at observation points in Idlib, we have to," said Erdogan. "If not, different terrorist groups will try to invade those areas."
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is reportedly planning to set up 12 observation and security points in Idlib as part of the Astana peace process, while preparing to extend the operation to Afrin and Manbij.
Turkish troops will be deployed to strategic points in Idlib, near its border with Afrin and Manbij, to monitor the region to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces as well as outline a plan for an upcoming operation in the other two areas.
The Turkish military has already established six observation posts across Idlib.
The PYD and its military YPG wing are the Syrian extensions of the PKK, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years, causing some 40,000 deaths.
The U.S. and the coalition have largely ignored PYD/PYG links to the PKK, which the U.S., EU, and Turkey lists as a terrorist group.
Since it resumed attacks over two years ago, the PKK has taken some 1,200 lives in Turkey, including security forces, women, and children.
'The SDF is a terrorist group'
On unkept U.S. promises in different regions of Syria, Erdogan said Turkey had proposed to the U.S. a coalition to clear the PKK/YPG from Manbij, northwestern Syria.
Erdogan said that then-U.S. President Barack "Obama did not keep his promises, though he promised this many times. The current administration, unfortunately, said they are working with the SDF instead of the YPG."
But Erdogan added: "Don’t try to trick us by saying that the SDF is a democratic establishment. It is [also] a terrorist organization.
"We know who’s who."
Recently, a deal to allow hundreds of Daesh terrorists to escape Raqqah was struck between Daesh and the SDF, a U.S.-backed force that consists largely of PKK/PYD terrorists, in Raqqah, Syria.
Erdogan accused the U.S. of sending “lots of dollars to Daesh."
"But my soldiers and the Free Syrian Army both fought heroically against Daesh. They continue to do so, clearing a 2,000-square-kilometer area."
He added: "We are aware of the scenarios that the U.S. -- which sabotaged operations against Daesh and the PYD -- wants to realize."
"Whoever invented Daesh is the one which invented the PYD," said Erdogan.
Exchange rates will return to 'normal'
Turning to economic issues, Erdogan said that high interest rates are fueling inflation and benefiting banks, adding that the issue of high interest rates will be resolved.
He also blamed the current situation of high interest rates on a lack of intervention towards the Turkish Central Bank, adding that if rates stay high, this will hinder investments.
"Exchange rates will return to a normal trend soon," he also said. "The reserves of the Turkish Central Bank are rising steadily."
In October Turkey's annual inflation rate rose to 11.90 percent year-on-year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Since the beginning of this year, annual inflation saw its lowest level in January -- 9.22 percent -- but hit its highest level at 11.90 in October.
The U.S. dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate, which saw a sharp hike last month, was at around 3.88 liras on Friday.