Erdogan: Turkey to develop unmanned tanks

Erdogan: Turkey to develop unmanned tanks
2 min read
22 February, 2018
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkey will develop unmanned tanks to minimise soldier deaths and injuries in combat.
President Erdogan made the announcement during a speech on Turkey's five-year plans [Getty]

Turkey's president says the country will develop unmanned tanks to minimise risks to soldiers in combat.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the plan on Wednesday during a speech delivered at a conference on Turkey's five-year development plan.

His comments came as Turkey's military is carrying out a cross-border offensive in Syria to clear a border enclave of Syrian Kurdish rebels.

"We need to be able to manufacture unmanned tanks and we will do this... We are becoming a country that is catching this technology," Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader said that US refusal to provide Turkey with drones in the past had forced the country to develop and produce its own.

Turkey's relations with the US have been turbulent in recent months, with Ankara resenting Washington for not handing over US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused for orchestrating a failed coup attempt in the 2016, yet still having strategic commonalities in war-torn Syria.

Turkish officials reportedly proposed to the US that the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) withdraw from Syria's Manbij and US and Turkish troops be stationed there together.

The US is reportedly considering the proposal, which was made to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his multi-country Middle East tour, Turkish officials told Reuters.

Last month, Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin to drive out the YPG from the province, which borders Turkey.

Turkish officials have warned they will extend their incursion in Syria to nearby Manbij, another area where Kurdish forces are based.

Up to 2,000 US troops are already stationed in Manbij, and a Turkish incursion into the area could risk conflict between the two NATO members.

In January, US President Donald Trump phoned Erdogan and "urged Turkey to de-escalate".