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Turkey ‘cannot forget’ letter from Trump about military offensive, Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the foreign media, in Istanbul, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Turkey's president says his country "cannot forget" the harshly worded letter from U.S. President Donald Trump about the Turkish military offensive into Syria. But he says the mutual "love and respect" between the two leaders prevents him from keeping it on Turkey's agenda.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the foreign media, in Istanbul, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Turkey's president says his country "cannot forget" the harshly worded letter from U.S. President Donald Trump about the Turkish military offensive into Syria. But he says the mutual "love and respect" between the two leaders prevents him from keeping it on Turkey's agenda. Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool

Turkey’s president says his country “cannot forget” the harshly worded letter from U.S. President Donald Trump about the Turkish military offensive into Syria.

But he says the mutual “love and respect” between the two leaders prevents him from keeping it on Turkey’s agenda.

Turkey agrees to so-called ceasefire in northern Syria
Turkey agrees to so-called ceasefire in northern Syria

These are Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first comments concerning the Oct. 9 letter from Trump, in which among other things he warned Erdogan not to be a “tough guy.”

Speaking to foreign journalists in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said that Turkey would “do what’s necessary” concerning the letter “when the time comes.” He did not elaborate.

Accusations of chemical weapons use against Kurds
Accusations of chemical weapons use against Kurds

Erdogan said: “President Trump’s letter, which did not go hand in hand with political and diplomatic courtesy, has appeared in the media. Of course we haven’t forgotten it. It would not be right for us to forget it.”

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READ MORE: Trump tells Erdogan in letter — ‘Don’t be a fool’ about Turkish offensive in Syria

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish militias in Syria a week ago. That came two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing American troops from the border area.

Erdogan says Turkey will resume its offensive in northeast Syria “in a more determined way” if Syrian Kurdish fighters do not pull out from areas of northeast Syria at the end of the five-day cease-fire.

Turkish foreign minister says it will pause Syrian offensive, says it’s not a ceasefire
Turkish foreign minister says it will pause Syrian offensive, says it’s not a ceasefire

Erdogan reiterated on Friday that Turkey would have no problem with Syrian government forces controlling some areas along Turkey’s border, as long as these areas are cleared of Syrian Kurdish fighters, that Turkey considers as terrorists due to their links to outlawed Kurdish militants in Turkey.

Erdogan said: “If the United States is able to keep the promises it gave us by Tuesday night, at the end of the 120-hour period, the issue of a safe zone will have been resolved. But if this promise is not kept, without exception, the minute the 120 hours end, our Operation Peace Spring will resume from where it left off in an even more determined way.”

READ MORE: Some fighting reported in Syria-Turkey border town despite ceasefire order

Erdogan said Turkey’s nine-day long offensive has resulted in the death of four soldiers and 74 Turkish-backed Syrian fighters. He claimed that the Turkish forces had “neutralized” around 750 Syrian Kurdish fighters.

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The Turkish leader said Turkey and allied Syrian opposition forces captured some 65 settlements, including the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn.