ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ramping up pressure on his Western allies, as the end of a U.S.-brokered cease-fire approaches with Syrian Kurdish rebels.
Erdogan's escalating rhetoric comes ahead of a pivotal meeting Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With international pressure continuing to grow on Ankara to end its military operation against the rebels, Erdogan lashed out at criticism of the operation in northeastern Syria.
"The West sided with terrorists, and all of them attacked us. These include NATO countries, as well as European Union countries. Weren't you against terrorism? Since when have you been acting with them?" Erdogan said in an address Monday.
Turkey earlier this month launched Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to an insurgency inside Turkey.
The YPG is the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a crucial U.S. ally in the war against Islamic State. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence brokered a 120-hour cease-fire last week to allow the YPG to withdraw.
With the withdrawal set to end Tuesday evening local time, Erdogan is warning Washington of its responsibilities to enforce it. "We expect our American allies to keep their promises this time," he said Sunday. "We have 35 hours left. If they don't withdraw, our operation will resume. This is also what we agreed with the Americans."
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