Turkey launches anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Erdogan

Turkey and the Syrian National Army have launched their much-awaited operation against Daesh and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) terror groups in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday.

“Our aim is to destroy the terror corridor, which is trying to be established on our southern border, and bring peace to the region,” Erdogan wrote on Twitter.

The operation, dubbed “Peace Spring,” will eliminate the terrorist threat to Turkey and ensure Syrian refugees’ return to their country thanks to a safe zone in the area, he said.

“We will protect the territorial integrity of Syria, and free the people of the region from the clutches of terror,” the president added.

Most of northeastern Syria is controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG terrorists. The YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the PKK terror group’s Syrian affiliate.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.

Turkey to inform all actors about Syria operation: FM

Turkey will inform all relevant countries, including the Syrian government, about its planned operation into northeastern Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday.

Turkey’s planned operation in northern Syria is its right under international law and UN resolutions, he said.

“Our only target is terrorists, in this way we will contribute to Syria’s territorial integrity,” Çavuşoğlu said, after his meeting with Algerian counterpart Sabri Bukadum.

“Unfortunately, there is a terrorist organization in northeastern Syria. This is a grave threat to our country,” said the top Turkish diplomat in Algiers.

“The U.S. gave them weapons and we arrest them in Turkey — because the terrorist organizations in both northern Syria and Turkey are the same,” he added.

The main objective of PKK/YPG is to divide Syria, said Cavusoglu.

“We support Syria’s territorial integrity. For this reason, we decided to start an operation here,” he added.

“When U.S. President Donald Trump said that they will withdraw from Syria and they wanted to create a safe zone together, we started negotiations,” said Cavusoglu.

“But our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw that as nothing but a stalling process and told the U.S. president that Turkey will carry out the operation by itself,” he added.

Cavusoglu went on to say that Turkey will inform all stakeholders about the operation, including Syria and the UN.

“This will be an important operation for the stability and security of the region,” said Cavusoglu.

“Migrants in Turkey and in the region will be able to return to Syria safely and voluntarily,” he added.

The top Turkish diplomat also met Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui on his visit to Algeria.

“We had a fruitful meeting with Prime Minister Nureddine Bedoui. We will continue to strengthen our economic and commercial relations with Algeria, our second largest trading partner in Africa,” he said in a tweet.

Syria operation

Turkey has long been ready to launch “Operation Peace Spring” east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements — to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Turkey has said the PKK terrorist organization and its extension the YPG/PYD is the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure. Turkey has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is “unacceptable.”

Turkey has a 911-km border with Syria and it has long decried the terror threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.

Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-km-wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of the terror groups such as the PKK, PYD, and YPG risk its formation.

Turkey has rid an area of 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria — Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch — to purge the region of terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK.

The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council decisions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and as per the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN charter, while being respectful to Syria’s territorial integrity.

During Operation Euphrates Shield Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists. Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist organization has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Erdogan discusses Syria operation with Putin

President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria and the safe zone in a phone call, the presidency said Wednesday.

In the call, Erdogan told Putin that the operation to the east of the Euphrates will contribute to peace and stability in Syria and pave the way for the political process to resolve the conflict in the country.

Highlighting that Turkey prioritizes the protection of Syrian people’s rights and interests, Erdogan said he appreciates Russia’s constructive stance regarding the matter.