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Turkey vows military escalation if US fails to establish buffer zone on southern border

Erdogan's warning comes after Turkey began joint operations with America near its border with Syria
President Erdogan made his comments before heading to New York for the UN General Assembly (AFP)

Turkey said it was prepared for military operations against Kurdish groups in Syria if the US fails to establish a buffer zone in northeast Syria. 

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was prepared for operations on the Syrian border. 

"Our preparations along our borders are complete," Erdogan said on Saturday before heading to New York for the UN General Assembly. 

"We have no wish to come face to face with the US. However, we cannot afford to overlook the support that the US is giving to a terrorist organisation." 

Erdogan's comment came after the US and Turkey began joint land and air patrols on Turkey's border with Syria.

Ankara, however, has grown frustrated with Washington's support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, and has accused the US of moving too slowly to establish a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border. 

Turkey considers the SDF to be a terrorist group and has already launched several military operations against the group. 

Erdogan's comments about border preparations also came a day after two security sources told Reuters that doctors have been stationed in southern Turkish provinces to prepare for a possible incursion into Syria.

One source said doctors' leave had been suspended. "We have been preparing for a long time," the source said. "The operation can be conducted whenever deemed necessary."

Turkey has already launched two military incursions into northern Syria since 2016, targeting Islamic State and YPG forces west of the Euphrates