Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, has said his country would “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants if they did not withdraw from a planned “safe zone” in northern Syria in time.
Speaking at an opening ceremony in the central Turkish province of Kayseri, Erdoğan said he would discuss the deployment of Syrian government forces in the safe zone during talks with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, next week, but warned Ankara would “implement its own plans” if a solution was not reached.
Following an intervention from the US, Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its military offensive in north-eastern Syria for five days while Kurdish fighters withdrew from the safe zone.
Reports of Kurdish evacuation plans started to emerge on Saturday, with the Associated Press quoting senior Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) official Redur Khalil as saying it planned to evacuate the town of Ras al-Ayn on Sunday. He said only after that would his forces pull back from a 120-km (75-mile) stretch between the towns…