Turkey's defense minister tweeted that a new round of talks had begun with the USA military about creating a Turkish-controlled safe zone inside Syria east of the Euphrates River, which would have no Syrian Kurdish forces within 19-25 miles of the border.
The military operation has been highly speculated on in recent weeks following talks between Turkish military figures such as Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar and US Envoy to Syria James Jeffreys regarding a proposed safe zone in northern Syria.
Turkey has always been delaying a possible operation east of the Euphrates to end the presence of US -backed YPG terrorists, which Ankara says pose a grave security threat due to their affiliation with the PKK that is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 in its almost 40 years of terror against the state. The aim is to address Turkey's security concerns about Syrian Kurdish militias in the region.
Turkey wants to control - in coordination with the US - a 19-25 mile-deep zone within Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and wants no Syrian Kurdish forces there.
Turkey already has a significant military presence in northern Syria, after taking the towns of Jarablus and al-Bab from IS, and Afrin from the YPG.
Ankara accuses Washington of stalling progress on setting up the safe zone and has urged Washington to cut off its relations with the YPG. "Now we will enter the east of the Euphrates", Erdogan said on Sunday during a motorway-opening ceremony.
He said that if no "common ground was reached with the US", Turkey would be forced to "set up the safe zone by ourselves".
With U.S. backing, the SDF have taken control over the last four years of much of northeastern Syria from Islamic State militants.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Friday said there was still no agreement on the "safe zone" as Ankara expected the U.S. to bring new proposals. It would mark the third Turkish incursion into Syria in as many years. In the past few days, Turkey had reinforced its troops on the border to Syria.
Talks between US and Turkish officials have stalled over creating a safe zone in Syria east of the Euphrates River.