For months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a military offensive against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, and earlier this weekend he stated that military action is now close, writes the AP news agency.

The area to which Erdogan refers is located east of the Euphrates River and controlled by the US-backed SDF militia, which in turn is led by the Kurdish YPG militia. Turkey regards YPG as a terror group with close ties to the Kurdish PKK guerrilla in Turkey.

The Kurdish forces carried the US-led campaign in Syria against the terrorist group Islamic State, IS. The US has warned that a Turkish offensive in northern Syria would send a worrying signal to US allies.

The United States is no longer in the immediate area

US troops "will not support or get involved in the operation" and "will no longer be in the immediate area" in northern Syria, said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement late Sunday. It renews the fear of killing Kurdish fighters allied with the United States in a multi-year campaign against IS.

It was not clear if that meant the United States would withdraw its thousand troops entirely from northern Syria. The statement came after a phone call between President Donald Trump and Erdogan, according to the White House.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham announced late Sunday that Turkey will soon enter northern Syria. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP Photo / TT

In December last year, Trump announced that he will withdraw the US troops in Syria. Then he was met with broad criticism for having abandoned Kurdish allies to the Turkish attack. That led to protests by then-US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and a concerted effort by then-national security adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds, the AP writes.